January 24, 2007

Cookie Mountain Arizona

Try as you might, comparing rock music to basketball can be a fruitless endeavor. The fluidity and smoothness of an NBA game is not one that is typically captured in rock. However, it occurred to me last night that there is a definite parallel between the Phoenix Suns and indie fave TV On the Radio.

It would be simple to point out the aesthetic similarity in both Steve Nash and Dave Sitek being the white conductor of a group of hyper-talented black men, but the parallels between these two are far more internal than something as surface as skin color. Describing either the Suns or TVOTR is a futile attempt. Sure, you could say that the Suns are a marvelous passing team and that their fast break is unmatched. Just as easily, you could say that TVOTR are a strange brew of indie-punk-doowop-Motown-no wave-whatever (well, maybe not easily). However, these words are just that – trivial placeholders for something infinitely more beautiful.

Last night, the Suns once again destroyed an Eastern Conference leader, the Wizards. The Producer (as I will now call Steve Nash) was otherworldly (27 points on 11-13 shooting, 14 assists). This followed The Producer’s 21 assist game during the dismantling of the crumbling Cavaliers. And while it is impossible to quantify which game was more dominating, it is easy to see the beauty in what he is doing. While watching the game, I can only remember one time where he missed an open man that he could have got the ball to. But like I said, words cannot properly describe the game that the man plays. Nash orchestrates the Suns multifaceted offense in such an incredible manner that the only way that I can see them losing right now is a bad shooting night.

It is this direction of divergent parts that brings to mind the musical stylings of TV On the Radio. Just as the Suns are playing basketball in a way that has never been seen before, TVOTR make music that is equally as innovative and ground-breaking. Each listen to Return to Cookie Mountain rewards the audience with new layers in their soundscape, in the same manner repeatedly watching the Suns renews appreciation for what they are trying to accomplish. The Chicken meets Bottle Rocket play of Leandro Barbosa echoes the off-kilter drum beat of “I Was a Lover.” The sheer brutality of an Amare Stoudemire drive to the basket is reminiscent of the gale force guitars of “Playhouses.” The undervalued (or under loved) Shawn Marion’s game can be seen in the spindly, twisting harmonies provided by Kyp Malone, without whom TVOTR might never have progressed beyond the promise of the Young Liars EP. The comparisons are endless.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, those comparisons might not be what they have envisioned. TVOTR has progressed with each release. From OK Calculator, to Young Liars, to the Shortlist Prize winning Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, to their greatest achievement to date, Return to Cookie Mountain, TVOTR has become stronger and more cohesive as a unit. Nonetheless, for all their critical acclaim, the band has never been able to achieve the commercial success that they so deserve. It seems that this too could be the case for the Suns. Since the ‘04-‘05 season, the Suns have perfected their breath-taking offense, and this year are actually playing decent defense. But as good as they have been in the regular season many believe that they will continue to falter in the playoffs. Teams like Dallas, San Antonio, and (depending on their health) Houston are better equipped to play the slug it out, slow it down style that becomes so prevalent once the games start to really matter. And though what they do is spectacular and pioneering, it just might be that what the Suns and TVOTR are doing is a little too ahead of their time for their own good.


Matt said...

that's some great stuff man - there's always been a massive gulf between sports and quality music culture (though apparently catpower talked about the NBA in a pitchfork interview) and stuff like this may help to bridge the divide. you mention you're an NBA obsessive to an indie chick and they're outta there in a flash - girls we're alright if you give us a chance.. of course steve nash pimpin bands like radiohead helps too

Nick said...

Hmm... my favorite team and one of my favorite bands. I can definitely see the parallels. RtCM was the best album of 2006 and the Suns are the best team of 2006(-07).

TV on the Radio is doing OK, btw. The video for "Wolf Like Me" gets played pretty frequently on MTV (at least between shows) and it's getting some play in mall stores. I'm not sure that this is a good thing, but I noticed it while taking my sister shopping.

Also, I've been to a couple shows here in Phoenix where the band has mentioned the Suns. The two I can think of are Liars and Stephen Malkmus.

Anonymous said...

carrying it a step further--- both teams are better off being the underrated heroes of the few fans in the know. neither one will go the distance. watch for TVOTR to continue to have problems getting laid and watch the Suns get throttled by the Lakers.

sexy said...








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