Television Rd
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Television Rd

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Rock




"Television Rd: Character Splatters"

Writing about Character Splatters, the latest album by Peterborough’s Television Rd turned out to be one of the greater challenges I’ve had as a music reviewer. I often find it helpful to talk to friends about the bands I’m reviewing, letting the language I use instinctively in conversation creep into the the more refined setting of my reviews. In this pre-writing phase, I caught myself describing Television Rd in different ways every time I spoke about them. At first I was preoccupied with their retro jazzy and R&B influences, describing them as a modern take on that classic style. This side of their sound is strongest on “Fry the Hound”, “Burial Ground”, “Commodity Song” and the album’s namesake, “Character Splatters”, a fascinating title considering their stylistic identity issues.

Later though, I couldn’t help but include a Metric reference. Their frequent use of keyboards and typical indie rock guitar riffs, matched with the use of lead singer Sara Ostowska’s lower register and an upbeat tempo on songs like “Burial Ground”, make the comparison easy but fair. “Chrysalis” has a similarly upbeat dance vibe. Sara’s voice on the whole also introduces a whole other genre into the mix. Despite its beauty and her technical skill, there’s a quirkiness and aggression that hints at a punk influence further shown in the distorted final moments of “Burial Ground”.

Another difficulty I faced writing this review was the inconsistency of my feelings for the album as a whole versus the individual songs and their unique energy. After multiple listens, Television Rd’s melting pot approach somehow becomes both dull and fascinating. The overall result plays out like a mostly bland indie rock record that only survives multiples listens if you’re eager and willing to dissect it piece by piece. When listened to passively, most of the album seems boring until one particular element or moment in a song grabs you. The best example of this unique songwriting technique is the masterfully placed first track, “Phat Farm”. It opens like a typical indie rock song then the addition of what sounds like a xylophone (or some other childlike instrument) adds a twee pop flavour to the track. At the one minute and thirty second mark an angular lead guitar riff adds post-punk to the mix before switching gears entirely and, due mostly to the addition of an organ riff, the song briefly morphs into reggae before going full circle back into straight indie rock.

Consistently, the album’s most impressive pieces are the vocals, drumming and use of various keyboard based instruments. However, the bass playing on “Preach” is exceptional, and the guitar tone on “Nausea” gave me chills. Using a repetition of the song’s title as lyrics, the band expertly creates a sickly and psychotic atmosphere.

Even though my opinion of this record is complicated, I definitely consider myself a fan of Television Rd and have a curious desire to one day experience these energetic songs in a live setting, where I have a strong feeling they would thrive, because most of these songs beg to be heard at loud volumes while dancing in order to be appreciated properly and at their full potential. - Bucket List Music Reviews

"3 new Ontario music releases you need to hear this week"

*** please note*** Audio Review is different from text review posted below. Link to Audio broadcast on CBC Radio 1 available through weblink above.


"Phat Farm is a new tune off Peterborough alternative band Television Road's new record called Character Splatters.

Phat Farm, for the unfamiliar, is also a clothing line started by one of the higher-ups at Def Jam records. This song, however, sounds nothing like the largely hip hop-influenced tunes you'd hear on Def Jam's roster — this is eclectic, female fronted alternative rock.

The slinky, creepy xylophone line on this song is a real strong point." - CBC News

"Television Rd: Character Splatters"

It would be hard to think of a more appropriate title for an album. While most debut albums provide a rough character sketch of the band, Character Splatters is a series of nine prods at what Peterborough’s Television Rd might be.

Are they a playful, lounge-influenced rock band with off-kilter rhythms and witty lyrics (“Phat Farm,” “Fry the Hound”)? Are they a trippy punk band (“Nausea”)? Are they an all-too-familiar-breezy indie folk band (“Light” – let’s hope not)? I still don’t know – but it hardly matters, because everything the album does show is incredibly hopeful: the groovy rhythms, the playful lyrics (“Commodity Song’s” glorious sing-along chorus “I just want somebody sexy to love me” is a highlight), and the brassy, expressive vocals of Sara Ostrowska.

And ultimately, this is a band with a bold willingness to experiment and push themselves in unexpected directions. I don’t know what Television Rd will become, but I can guarantee it won’t be boring. - The Wire Magazine

"Local Tunes: Television Rd - It's a Boogie Thing"

Looking for somebody sexy to love you? So is Television Rd. At least, that’s according to the chorus of “Commodity Song” which is perhaps one of their catchiest tunes and a sing-along favourite.

“I think that was one of the hardest songs to record,” says Sara Ostrowska, lead vocalist of the band.

Television Rd is a five-piece band, and includes Sara on vocals, tambourine, and maracas; Dan Collins on piano/keyboard and melodica; Dan Mcnally on drums; Duncan MacKinnon on guitar; and Jay MacKinnon on bass. They’re all Trent students, although the former graduated last year.

We’re sitting in the LEC music room, chatting after the band finishes performing one of their newest songs, “Feeder Road”. Everyone is present, save for Jay, who had to be in Toronto for the weekend.

Television Rd definitely plays a unique blend of genres to create a distinctive musical style. Collins thinks they lean more towards the punk end of the spectrum, along with some rock, jazz and folk influences. “We are vaguely a punk band, I would say. Well, we wanna be a punk band”, he says thoughtfully.

“We try to channel the punk energy” suggests Mcnally.

Television Rd has been around for a few years, but their current lineup is relatively recent. They’ve undergone a few transformations, and began with Jay, Collins and Mcnally jamming in the LEC music room in their first year. In fact, they won the Trent Battle of the Bands in 2012, performing under the name Winghorns with another lead singer (ironically also named Sara).

“Sara [Ostrowska] is our fourth singer” explains Collins, “and best singer” he adds, smiling. Sara joined the band after running into Collins at a Trent philosophy society gathering last fall.

“He invited me when he was drunk at The Sapphire Room” Sara says. Collins protests, “I was drinking, I wasn’t drunk”. They knew each other from Trent Radio. Collins said he was sure she would be a good singer, even though he’d never heard her sing. “I knew her radio voice and I knew her taste in music, so I just knew she was gonna be a good singer”.

Duncan joined about the same time as Sara, around October of last year. If you’re wondering why the guitarist and bassist of Television Rd look alike and have the same last name, it’s because they’re brothers. “We’ve played music together for a long time” explains Duncan, “We were in bands in high school together… and we live together… and are brothers. So we’ve played a lot together!”.

The current lineup of the band started playing shows early this year, performing gigs at The Spill, the Red Dog, and even grabbing third place at this year’s Battle of the Bands competition.

As you’re probably aware, Television Rd is also the name of a highway east of the city. Jay suggested it one day and it wasn’t long before it was adopted as a band name. “We liked the name because you wouldn’t have any idea what kind of music would come from it. We chose it for its neutrality” says Collins.

“Wait, I thought the story was, ‘there’s this awesome band, we should name a road after it’,” Duncan replies.

Television Rd plays mostly originals, although they do play both a Clash and a Radiohead cover. They cite the Pixies as one of their other influences. From there, each member seems to be guided by their own personal styles. Sara uses inspiration from Lady Gaga and Metric in her singing, while Collins prefers Wilco and My Bloody Valentine. Mcnally alludes to classic rock influences in his drumming, such as the likes of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. As for the MacKinnon brothers, Collins explains, “Duncan likes Grizzly Bear and other folksy stuff, as well as Jay. Cause they’re from Guelph, so…”

As for local artists they follow, the band is keen to rhyme off as many as they can. “Blues in the Bottle, hello babies, the Lonely Parade, Watershed Hour, Dub Trinity, the White Crowleys…” lists Sara, “We don’t want to forget a local band, those are the main ones!”

An interesting thing to note is that everyone in Television Rd is able to play most instruments, so everybody can do a bit of everything if needed. In addition, the songwriting process is also a collaborative effort, with all band members participating.

Their latest album, Character Splatters, consists of nine songs recorded over two days at Acrylic Recording, a studio north of Toronto. The band can’t heap enough praise on Acrylic and is very excited about the finished album. “He’s really, really good at what he does” enthuses Collins, of the studio owner.

The meaning behind the title is pretty contemplative. “In the York Regional School Board they had this campaign for elementary schools called ‘character matters’. They would emphasize traits like courage and honesty,” explains Collins. “Losing your integrity would be what it’s about. When you’re younger they really emphasize that, but as you get older you get more careless and everything’s ambiguous, you’re like ‘what’s wrong, what’s right’’.

You can pick up a copy of Character Splatters at the release party this Friday at the Red Dog for $5. The band is also playing at a pancake kegger the next morning.

They state that the recording process was difficult at times, but very rewarding. “We are all just bicker-y, and we all have our own vision that really clashes with everyone else,” says Collins, when explaining how they tried not to get too mad at each other in the studio.

“I would definitely say we’re all stubborn,” Sara adds, “except maybe Dan Macnally”.

Any bickering the band does do definitely seems to come from a love of the music they play. They are quick to point out each other’s strengths and talents as we discuss each member’s role, and it’s easy to see that they are a tight-knit group.

“We all like to boogie. It’s a boogie thing” says Duncan.

“We like to boogie,” Sara affirms, “You can quote all of us on that!”

Be sure to come boogie at the Red Dog this Friday night for the release of Character Splatters. The White Crowleys and Tiananmen Square Dance will also be performing. Only $5 cover and doors open at 9pm. - Arthur Newspaper

"Unlosing the art of finding something to do"

The Spill on George Street is one of those unusual venues that seems to change shape according to the number of people attending. You can never eyeball the capacity quite right.

Put a few people in, and it’s hard to imagine the place holding more than 30-40 people, fill it to about half and you feel like it could hold a hundred, as if the more people you add the more space swells in proportion.

It’s Friday and a Trent-based band called Television Rd is hosting a show featuring two other local acts and Billy Moon from Hamilton.

Television Rd began at Trent University’s Lady Eaton College. The three original members Dan, Dan, and Jay formed the band in early 2013 with a different singer. “We were for the most part unsuccessful, they say. “It was a really different back in those days; more pop, less punk and alternative. Ever since Duncan and Sara have joined the band, our sound has evolved radically.”

Describing their motivations for putting on this show the band says “we wanted to set up a show of our own to kick off the new school year. We usually organize and perform a show or two a month. The next one will be our CD release! October 3 at the Red Dog. It is our first CD as a band and it is indeed a full-length album!”

The show starts with another Trent University-based band, The White Crowleys, whose style is a crunching, heavy psych with a lot of instrumentals washed out in reverb.

Drummer Stuart Downie and guitarist Justin Horlick are both Trent students with the other two members (including Justin’s brother, Kaulin) based out of Hamilton.

The White Crowleys try and play at least one show per month in Peterborough, but say that this can be difficult to do when half your band lives on the other side of Toronto.

This hasn’t deterred them however – “We get all kinds of support from the community at Trent and Peterborough. There’s a lot of great musicians here, and a lot of great venues”. The band also helped by bringing along two-piece Billy Moon who are the only ones without direct connections to Peterborough.

This type of interconnectedness is something you see a lot of in these small local music scenes. The way people bring their social networks with them, the way they cross pollinate through the process of going to and from schools or travelling for work, it’s a valuable ‘surplus positive benefit’, almost necessary when so often you are booking shows with who you know, where you know.

Like Television Rd, the White Crowleys are also pitching an upcoming album having just finished recording a 2-song release, Fane Jonda, which they hope to release around Christmas.

Even one band in, the crowd is already starting to move, there’s a lot of groove amidst the White Crowleys’ densely layered atmosphere: it’s infectious.

The audience is already very much alive and attentive when the hosts Television Rd take the stage with their blend of punk and new wave, fronted by a very jazz influenced vocalist. At times the front rows are dancing, at times they’re hopping, and on many occasions chanting “TVRD!”

Afterwards, Television Rd would say of the event: “Really, this was as good as it gets. The place was packed before the first band even went on. We did not expect to pull such a big crowd to the Spill to be honest.”

“We had people chanting “TV RD!” and swaying their arms to our slow songs, dancing to our fast songs, clapping, singing along… it was a really fantastic crowd and they rocked the fuck out.”

The band has nine songs recorded and ready to be released on October 3 at The Historic Red Dog. This will no doubt be a very exciting night for a band that has quickly been raising its profile around town. - Arthur Newspaper

"Album Review: Television Rd - Character Splatters"

It’s hard to think of a more appropriate title for this debut album from Peterborough’s Television Rd than Character Splatters. Normally, a debut album is like a character sketch of the band as they might be: it may be a bit rougher than the final product, and not all the details are filled in, but it gives you an overall sense of shape and proportion. Character Splatters, on the other hand, feels more like a collection of nine tosses at the wall of what the band might become.

With the boozy vocals of Sara Ostrowska and a lot of keys and guitar, Television Rd sound (most of the time) like a weirdo lounge rock jam band – think Timber Timbre, only with that band’s creeping sense of dread replaced with a free-wheeling sense of fun.

Except sometimes they’re a punk band. Or a jazz band. With folk elements. And where the shit did that melodica come from?

Some examples: “Phatfarm,” a lazy, off-kilter wander of a song with a goofy xylophone line; “Nausea,” a trippy Pixies-influenced track with a queasy, disorienting (nauseous) guitar line and an explosive punk climax; “Chrysalis,” a jam band track with a cool locomotive chug; and “Commodity Song,” a straight-up alt-rock song custom built for live performance, even featuring an album-highlight drunken singalong refrain, “I just want somebody sexy to love me!”

Thankfully, carrying us through all this madness is a rather solid quintet of Trent students. Jay Mackinnon’s got a real bass groove, and Daniel Collins on keys does a lot of melodic heavy lifting. But the real highlight is lead singer Sara Ostrowska. She’s got a ton of personality in her vocals. Her delivery, at times brash, at times off-the-cuff, really helps sell the lounge feel of the album, and she sounds like she’s having a ridiculously good time delivering these insane lyrics.

Seriously – this album has some of the wackiest lyrics I’ve ever heard. I imagine the songwriting process involving writing random words on tiny slips of paper, then pulling them out of a hat: “Not like with jam and butter / All thongs will be made from mink fur / Why ever eat stale bread?”

Why ever, indeed.

Some songs do seem to have a narrative, like “Burial Ground” – but unless I’m missing some deep metaphor here, it seems to be installing a robot on someone’s grave to torment them after death. After all, “You don’t know how cruel I really am / All my mom knew how to cook was badness ham.”

Then there’s “Fry The Hound,” a brassy jazzy take on storytelling songs like “Mack The Knife.” It tells the thrilling tale of a drunk who mistakes a woman at a bar for a hooker, gets rejected, and goes to eat road-kill instead.

I will say this about Television Rd: they are not boring. And that’s actually more of a compliment than it might seem. Especially for young bands, it’s easy to veer towards the middle, to regurgitate things they’ve heard before without saying anything new.

Consider, for example, “Light,” probably the album’s least successful diversion. It’s a mopey indie-folk song that could have come from City & Colour, Bon Iver, or a bunch of other bands. In another place, from another band, it might work – but on this bold album, it just feels a bit flaccid.

Character Splatters is an album that keeps veering off in unexpected left turns, and then giggling at the confused expression it leaves on your face. It may be confusing, and even confused, but it’s the work of a band with ambition, playfulness, and a truly unique voice on the Peterborough scene. I don’t fully know what that voice sounds like, and it’s saying a lot of crazy shit that doesn’t make any sense, but it has my attention. - Electric City Live


Character Splatters (2014)



Television Rd is made up of philosophers, artists, gardeners, gamers, and mathematicians who like to boogie. The band plays a unique blend of genres to create a distinctive musical style while channeling a colourful punk energy. Despite the fact that the band has a traditional rock line-up, they utilize eclectic instruments such as the melodica, maracas, tambourine, wood blocks, and keyboard. A self-described bass and drum-driven band, they focus on creating interesting rhythms and experimenting with time signatures. Along with a playful and upbeat sound, the CBC described their debut album has having an underlying “creepy, menacing vibe. “

Television Rd is a very young band but has been gaining momentum very quickly. The band formed October 2013 and started playing live venues with exclusively original material February 2014. They released their debut album Character Splatters October 2014 to over 150 people in a Peterborough venue and sold almost 100 physical copies of the album that night alone. The band was then recorded and broadcasted by both the CBC and TVCogeco, and received several favourable reviews from both print and online publications.

Television Rd has since been expanding their reach from the Peterborough scene, playing several shows in Guelph and Toronto.

This year they placed 2nd in Trent's Battle of the Bands (though they were tied for 1st place) and won the Audience Choice award. Shortly after, the band headlined Trent University’s annual “Dionysus” event, with over 1000 attendees and played in Peterborough’s “Not Quite Music Festival.” The band has supported touring musicians such as Goodnight, Sunrise, Milo McMahon, The Holy Gasp, and Moon King (of Last Gang Records). 

Band Members