Hearing Aide: Telegram ‘Operator’

CeLGXekWIAAXZZ3In an indeterminate attempt to coerce fans of psychedelic rock to see the horizons of modern-aged punk, the band Telegraph sits on a wobbly fence of musical identity. In a first attempt at studio success, Telegraph releases their first album, entitled Operator.

While some could identify the Psycadelic Furs-inspired vocal intonation of lead singer Matt Saunders combined with the garage-band instrument distortion (featuring Oli Paget-Moon on bass and Matt Wood on lead guitar) as being true to their proto-punk origins, it’s this mix of old and new that throws off the ears of the listeners. Sometimes, punk rockers just want their punk rock without extra fluff, and adding progressive guitar riffs and odd vocal voicings jumble our sense of clarity throughout many of the songs on the album, leaving us unsatisfied with the final result.

That being said, this is a band that probably blows the roof off live. What makes punk rock so enticing is it’s simplistic, aggressive, garage-band nature, and sometimes that doesn’t come across in digital recording the way it should. Small mixing flaws like making the harmony louder than the melody, EQing the bejesus out of the frontman’s takes, and jumbling the lyrics in clouds of noise don’t necessarily reflect poorly on the band, but rather on what the band is meant to do, aka perform. Their recent visit to SXSW proved to be successful, playing a great show at the Javelina Bar and skyrocketing what was previously their curious visitors into super fans.

The 3rd track on the album, cleverly named “Inside Outside,” embodies the inner arguments of the brain in determining musical authenticity (along with the lyrics, of course). The groove that rings throughout this track, along with the 4th track of the album, entitled “Godiva’s Here,” is the sole responsibility of drummer Jordan Cook, who takes over an otherwise lagging unison of melody to a create a diverse rhythmic structure.

While songs such as “Aeons” and “Follow” were pre-released as singles on various music platforms, they don’t stand alone amongst the vast mounds of record submissions from punk rockstar hopefuls. They wish to embody organized chaos as a writing style, but we’re having a hard time following along. They try to engage prime and rusty punk rock with progressive interludes, but they’re not unified in their own sound. The saving grace of the album is their Floyd-influenced tune “Telegramme,” and their traditional closet-sized venue crowd favorite “Taffy Come Home.” These songs contrast in style, but equally identify the pre-developed intentions of this newly formed ensemble. What this band needs is time, and we’re more than willing to see where they will end up with a speech specialist, a little bit of fame, and the same aggression and confusion they throw at us in Operator. Until then, we’ll enjoy the wild ride of an album that put Telegram on the map for SXSW, and by default, everyone.

These guys are too hip for a website, so we’ll be tracking their changes via their Facebook page.

Key Tracks: Inside Outside, Taffy Come Home, Telegramme

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