Television Hill
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Television Hill

Band Americana Blues


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"Twilight Review"

This Baltimore four piece play a rough-hewn mixture of twanging, Country-inflicted rock and arcane, myth-heavy backwoods folk and blues. Dominated by Rob Wilson’s heavily accented drawl, this is partway between a primitive howl in the wilderness and rolling, ballroom balladry. The group’s versatility is displayed in their ability to shift between shuffling, jazzy blues and wide open country picking, with odd left-field excursion such as the instrumental “Saratoga”. But it is Wilson’s intriguing songs that dominate; even the lyrics are printed phonetically- “She was jud just a release/ But a peach fermi pleasure/ Nudder so’s I could sleep/ A wee bitty better” – which makes him sound even more impenetrable. Chuck in a storming version of “John the Revelator” and you’ve got something boldly distinguishable from the mass of Americana out there. - Wire

"Twilight Review"

There's something uneasily pretty in a lyric like "Well, I used ta love my whiskey / and I used ta love my wife" -- maybe it's because "to" is spelled "ta" in the liner notes, or perhaps it's because the whiskey comes before the wife. Both are good guesses, but the odds are good that the real reason the line is so alluring is because Television Hill singer/songwriter Rob Wilson has pumped it full of old-time country yodel and heartache. Over clean, pure country arrangements, Wilson sings like he's recording in an abandoned Appalachian shack. Probably closer in sound and style to Phosphorescent's Matt Houck or Will Oldham than to Blind Willie Johnson (whose "John the Revelator" is covered here), Television Hill sounds more alive and more visceral than any three modern country stars you'd care to name.

"Jewel of Texas", from which the quoted lyrics were taken, waltzes in in a haze of lap steel, upright bass, guitar and fiddle. The song is ostensibly about Isaac Cline, a US Weather Service Bureau member from 1885-1935 who lost his pregnant wife in a flood he declared impossible, but it's filled with enough universality and pathos to make it a perfect weeper for listeners who are in their cups. Wilson's voice is mercurial, an emotional barometer, as ready to hold a note as twist it tight, but it only works because his backing band is sharp. They play straight-up country arrangements, and they play them well.

Even when Wilson leads them toward the Caribbean (as he does on "Bamako Express"), the band can't help but keep their songs in the South. Twangy guitar licks, singing saw and a lugubrious bass play the one and the four, married to Wilson's voice, which has adopted enough of an island accent to color the song a little further. Later, Wilson gives "Fine Fraulein"'s chorus a Germanic edge -- a small misstep that won't prevent the song from becoming a jukebox sing-along.

Although they sound like they're fresh off the bus from a deep Southern state, Television Hill actually hail from Baltimore. Yankees they may be, but their sound is pure country rebel. Twilight is a hell of a dawn.-- Tyson Lynn

"Twilight Review"

Review by Pete Gow

Twilight rising, the spirit of The Basement Tapes rages through this lo- fi country blues in all its ragged, ramshackle glory. Jennifer Hutt draws a weary note from her fiddle, a guitar appears mid- bar as if it had missed its queue, followed by an equally tardy drum roll - 'well I used to play the fiddle in the service of the Queen' - so begins 'Jewel of Texas', the opening track from Twilight, debut release from Baltimore's Television Hill. It is the everyday story of Isaac Cline, the head of the US Weather Service Bureau in 1900, whose pregnant wife was lost in a freak Texas flood. It sounds like the drunken brother of The Rolling Stones Dear Doctor from Beggars Banquet…. It is fractured, it is unfocused it is Godamn brilliant. That sound of The Stones 'toying' with Country music is never far away (Gunny Shiloh has me thinking of Exile on Main Street's Sweet Black Angel), however, while Twilight is a fun record, it is also sincere if not always serious; Country blues tunes like 'Mulberry Bush' and 'Hostage Honey' roll along, dragging their own heels to a place where instrumental space is not so much created as stumbled upon. This slacker style is both best evidenced and simultaneously blown apart by 'Santiago', an instrumental that first has you, fingers crossed, willing the drums to keep up. That is until you listen enough to realise that it is a fantastically intricate pattern, performed in a time signature that mere mortals like me could never work out. As a writer and vocalist, Rob Wilson is just as much of an enigma. As with the rest of Television Hill, he seems to invest a lot of time in making us think he is just playing at this. His singing style is a cross between Jagger's mocking Southern drawl & The Broken Family Band’s Steven Adams – his phrasing, ungainly and laconic renders much of what he sings as almost indecipherable - Remember REM's first couple of records? I make the comparison because, much like Stipe, Wilson has got something to say and it is worth hunting down. He also adopts non- linear approach to language, the skill and power in his songs being as much down to phonetics as the words themselves. A lyric sheet is provided to help you along, which is the only way you could ever make sense of 'Fine Fraulien' - a perfect marriage of borderline English, pigeon German and a scattering of words from neither language which have been completely made up - 'aforen my time is afinied', indeed!

Taken as a whole, you get a feeling that Twilight was performed back to back, each song one after the other and in the precise order you hear them on disc. That is no bad thing - the album is sequenced like a concert should be; Set the tone, introducing with each new track another element - the fiddle, a piano or pump organ. The centre piece of the record, literally (being as they are tracks 7 & 8), are 'The Kings Assassin', eight minutes of magic - the assassin should leave to evade capture for his crime, but the draw of his lover and the realisation that 'never again will the speckled rays of sunshine kiss the freckles of your skin' makes him hang around just a little too long, enough for his pursuers to locate him, with the inevitable and deadly results. It is followed by a thundering rendition of an olde tyme gospel song 'John The Revelator' which sounds like The Grateful Dead filtered through the Ramones. After a brief respite, the show closes with 'Buttercup Maidens' a juddering folk song screamed in the style of Tom Waits circa Bone Machine, yet held in check by a couple of percussive master strokes - hand bells and something which sounds a bit like a Theremin, but I'm guessing isn't (possibly a violin passed through a guitar effects unit?).. A well-chosen finale. The perfect ending to a near perfect album. PG
- Americana-UK

"Twilight Review"

Rob Wilson's songs hang somewhere between myth, history, folklore, folkmusic and rock. The common place where these areas converge makes Twilight a startling premiere for Television Hill. Recorded in 2003 in Baltimore at Mount Royal Studios, Twilight is now distributed through Morphius records. But Rob, Dave Huemann and Dave Bergander (of Arbouretum), and Walker have been strong voices in Baltimore's meta-folk scene since the mid-nineties, and this album is a fresh reminder that Charm City has much to offer as far as new music is concerned.

Opening with the remarkable "Jewel of Texas", made even better through Jennifer Hutt's mercurial fiddle playing, you are immediately immersed in Rob's flood, his reaching bray and biblical prose; songs firmly attached to the earth but swimming in the heavens. This song about Isaac Cline, chief of the U.S. Weather Service Bureau (and later art collector) who lost his pregnant wife in the Galveston flood of 1900, is exemplary of Rob's tendency towards references thick with history and irony that resonate in our collective consciousness. For instance, "Heloise, Please", the brief retelling of Abelard's love for the young woman which eventually led to his castration. Rob's voice and words are Twilight's center of motion, and easily carry the songs forward through western roads, African railways, alpine valleys, and out through clear waters. These scenes are usually presented on the backdrop of country stomps, call and response blues, and tumultuous guitar lines. Television Hill's music is far too modern to be considered some kind of revival, but its deep roots in American musical traditions make it intimately familiar. The well of Wilson's lyrics seems dug even deeper, and he incorporates a vast prism of references to people and places, fictional and actual. The result is songs like "The King's Assassin", "Fine Fraulein", or "Gunny Shiloh" which bear a neoteric timeless country lilt.

It would serve a listener well to read the lyrics alongside the first couple plays of the album, as the richness and depth of the songwriting reveals itself more fully with each turn. Also sometimes you simply need a guide understanding what Rob is singing through his drawl. It is not offputting, but instead lends to the strangely personalized obscurity that the songs evoke. And exploring the phonetics of the lyric sheet is at times as mesmerizing and bewildering as hearing him sing. One might even pass over such striking passages as in the deceptively simple, bluesy, "Hostage Honey": "When the last rebellious angel starts to fade/and all the dogs of twilight glide/into that dark and distant age/don't go tryin' to tie your tiger to a cage". The songs do possess a story-like quality that deserves to be explored. The thirteen originals only occassionaly falter, and even then slightly, and the incendiary version of the traditional gospel tune "John the Revelator" is wonderfully close to a baptism of fire. "Jewel of Texas", "King's Assassin", "Heloise, Please", and "Buttercup Maidens" are pretty much perfect. Subtley colored and crafted, there is much to be digested and experienced in Twilight's multifarious narrative. 9 / 10 Reviewed by: Geoff Wilt
- Beatbots

"Country Life"

By Ryan Boddy

Graham Lindsey & Television Hill

Chicken-wire barriers to deflect flying beer bottles from performers were unnecessary Thursday as country-fried, Wisconsin-based folk singer Graham Lindsey and local outfit TV Hill graced the stage of the Talking Head. After short sets from College Park singer/songwriter Mike Roy and Chicago's Thin Man Amongst the Shambles, Lindsey crawled up to the stage carrying a tribunal of dreadnought guitars, easily bigger than the diminutive singer. Lindsey ekes out the kind of country music that Nashville forgot, thankfully without pop influence. His voice is as gravelly but earnest as John Prine's, and his lyrical stanzas are long enough to make three-pack-a-day smokers faint. Lindsey switched comfortably between guitars, at one point simultaneously sliding on a dobro and puffing on blues harp between stanzas of Leadbelly-sinister lyrics. While a Bob Dylan comparison is inevitable, Lindsey has a flair for subtly sneaking snippets of punk ethos into his songs without sounding campy.

At 12, this now-25-year-old Wisconsin native played with Old Skull, the so-called youngest punk band in the world, before he migrated to various cities, eventually undergoing a self-imposed exile in rural Nebraska. He now lives in a log cabin in Viola, Wis., farming organic produce with his girlfriend--the kind of idyllic existence country singers of his ilk only dream about.

Lindsey was joined by Television Hill for some of his last songs, including "I Won't Let You Down." Dave Bergander (ex-Love Life) played appropriately lazy fan brush drums over Dave Human's additional electric guitar, Rob Wilson's suitably whiskey-stained lap steel guitar, and Walker Teret on double bass accompaniment. When Lindsey took his leave, TV Hill borrowed members from local outfit Madagascar on accordion, percussion, and saw--too many folks to fit onstage.

This combo, which could be called a Baltimore supergroup if it weren't so laid back, has existed in various iterations intermittently for six years. TV Hill's music moves at a slow but climactic pace, reaching crescendos only to double back into glacially paced accordion refrains. Wilson's gritty but plaintive vocals seem to spur the band to action more than anything else as the band around him lurches mellowly and fittingly through the songs. And though musical saws and resonator guitars aren't everyday fare at the Talking Head, the audience hooted and hollered honky-tonk hurrahs as songs lilted to a close well past last call.

- City Paper


My Name's Hardin (TBD)
Twilight (Teneral 2005)

We have many rare and live MP3s on our website! Look for them in the media section.



Television Hill has been trafficking in folk futures and transmitting intermittently to Baltimore and vicinity for well over 7 years. The band’s main impetus lies in the wily words and guitar work of singer/songwriter Rob Wilson who marshals his militia of members far afield through shorey blues, staggered stomps, and Winchester waltzes. Their most recent release Twilight (Teneral 2005) has received international attention and has also served to secure favorable footing for the band along an ever-expanding American musical frontier. Television Hill is currently working on My Name’s Hardin, a concept EP that takes a poke at the title of Dylan’s 1967 release John Wesley Harding. Unlike Dylan’s recording, this six shot biographical work is an exciting incursion into the life and lore of the fastest gun in the west, Wes Hardin. The band's all-star line-up currently consists of Rob Wilson, Dave Heumann, David Bergander and Walker Teret.