After attending my first music festival, I came across a bunch of music I had never heard before. This is a huge perk because I love discovering new artists. While there we’re tons of big names to check out on the line up, there was actually a local band that caught my attention. I’m talking about TV Party, a group from Ventura, California. Its members include vocalist Jesse Brinkenhoff, guitarists Parker Cohen and Aiden O’Donnell, bassist Matt Kash and drummer Justin Dempsey. The music is reminiscent of 80’s power pop and reminded me of “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol. This is seen in their new album, released about a month ago. Let’s look at the inspiration behind the album and highlight a couple standout songs.
When it comes to TV Party’s second full-length album, the title sets the tone for its mood and music. In the 1950s, a Canadian psychiatrist developed a form of radical therapy called psychic driving. The idea was that by taping positive messages and replaying them to his patients on a never-ending loop, their bad habits could be broken by reprogramming the individual. Done under the guise of helping those patients, the CIA funded the experiment. However, it was a front for scientific research in brainwashing and mind control. Psychic Driving isn’t directly about that, but it still evokes a sense of uncertainty. It is a fever dream that captures the terror, absurdity, and struggle—but also the joy—of modern existence.
“Bag Of Five Marbles” opens with nervous energy that contains unsettling and comforting feelings. It feels like a familiar song you’ve known all your life. Whether that’s the carefree, nighttime, windswept streets of “Motorbike Libido (She Loves The Beatles)” or the melancholy power-pop of “Gone,” these songs are very much rooted in the band’s personal experiences. A story about a staged kidnapping in an African national park, for example, inspired the punk sound of “British Petroleum.” This song is a headbanger that one could mosh to. It starkly contrasts the previous song on the album list, “Fentanyl.”
I have no idea if the story is true or not, but it’s about the sort of impotence you feel when these kinds of huge corporate structures exist.”Jesse Brinkenhoff, vocalist
Brinkenhoff is not afraid to confront his personal demons, either, on “Pocket Full Of Harold” and “Fentanyl,” two back-to-back songs about drugs and his experiences with them. “Pocket Full Of Harold” song sounds like something played in a 90s coming-of-age movie with its catchy guitar melody and punk drumbeat. However, “Fentanyl” changes pace with a slower beat and hypnotic vocals. Both songs warn about society and what humans do to escape the capitalist system. TV Party neither sugarcoat nor glamorize drug-taking but try and talk about America’s complicated relationship with legal painkillers that has led to the opioid crisis.
Most of the time, people get into drugs with romantic aspirations around it. And in a way, they are romantic, but you also either ruin your life or you die.”Jesse Brinkenhoff, vocalist
If you only listen to the melody like I did the first time, you miss the nuances in the song. It is easy to get lost in the guitar, but paying attention to the lyrics makes the experience entirely different. I’m glad I discovered this bang through the Shabang Music Festival, and I hope they grow bigger. I love their sound and hope to see them again live. To end this article, I wanted to leave a quote by the bassist about the album.
“I wanted to make a record that we could look back on one day and be proud of, and I think we did that,” -Kash.