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TV Buddhas - The Golden Period / TV Buddhas EP

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Artist: TV Buddhas

Album: The Golden Period / TV Buddhas EP

Label: Trost

Review date: Jun. 29, 2010

TV Buddhas are a band that I liked the instant I heard them, and keep liking more as they’ve revealed their motivations. Early CD-Rs, collected on the album The Golden Period present a spacerock duo that gets vast sound out of a guitar hooked to two amps and some sparse drumming. Judicious use of echo buries the vocals and makes notes hang. The reveries skid into metallic wipeouts. This kind of open-air heaviness usually dies in an outdoor setting, as if it requires a small club or house party to define the horizon. But video of them playing at an Austrian plaza holds up, even surviving the audio downgrade of a handheld camera.

Starting out in a Tel Aviv suburb a few years ago, Juval Haring and Mickey Triest moved to Europe, which offered family ties and more opportunity for an audience. They’ve been itinerants around the continent for the last two years. The new EP sounds like it could be a different band altogether. No canyons or crackups here - recording gets a further audio downgrade to hissing cassette. The drummer’s brother has joined as a second guitarist, and the tussles back and forth don’t leave room for the jangly doom of the early recordings. Instead, we get electric ballads in the style of Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell and Peter Laughner - tough guys who defined punk, but still strove toward singer-songwriter confessions.

Despite the changes, the songs keep defining a persona of isolated, scene-less rock fans trying to make the leap to road veterans. The Golden Period was built on the chemistry of a couple making noise, alone together, coaxing a style out of the way they naturally played. The new tracks are a fight against that intuition, a challenge to make more wordy, fleshed-out songs. They’re good at both.

TVB make loud odes to introversion. If the opener has a Heartbreakers roar, and the second song an Iggy strut, they don’t mimic narcotic desperation. Song titles chip together stock phrases; "Let Me Sleep," "Going Out On Saturday," "Fast Generation." But "Let Me Sleep" isn’t an addict nodding off. And they aren’t planning to go out on Saturday. And they’re too slow for the fast generation. When they tell the world to buzz off, it’s not the I’m not hip pleadings of a hip crew. Haring and Triest seem genuinely stressed out by the social interactions of their chosen vocation. The final song, "Fun Girls," is another twist in their sound, closer to recent reverb girl punk. Mickey takes the mic for the first time, berating "fun girls laughing hard at things / I don’t understand." The song ends with the line "I’m conscious all the time."

The self-consciousness continues to build. A few weeks ago, they started posting videos of wandering though a German supermarket and nice French hotel. There’s a manifesto about setting out on the road expecting the hard knocks of Black Flag’s van legends (check out the pseudo-Pettibone cover art on this EP) and only finding fair-handed European promoters, digitally tamed routes defiant to wrong turns, and daydreams about buying IKEA chairs. They’ve decided to embrace the banality.

TV Buddhas have covered a lot ground - culturally and sonically. They’ve managed to make anxieties and contradictions into all sorts of messy rock. The lack of sound quality isn’t style so much as impatience. Cleaned-up, these would be even better. This band is one lucky break away from breaking away.

By Ben Donnelly

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