Long live rock, I need it every night

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Local Letdown

Telograph (with The Sketches and Red Romance)
Black Cat, January 4 2008

There has been a great deal of discussion among the members of Rock Club (and some anonymous outsiders) about this show review. I have never seen so much pre/post show banter concerning three local bands (actually two local bands and one from the Windy Apple). After numerous emails, phone conversations, and in-person dialogue we collectively came to the conclusion that Telograph (the "O" in Telograph is nothing but a stylistic choice.") has now overtaken Cedars as our least favorite local band.

In all honesty, we were not even supposed to be at this show. We had selected Adam West/The Points at the RNR Hotel as the show for that week. However, due to logistical issues and general laziness, we opted to go the Black Cat instead. Big mistake.

The highlight of the evening (which isn't saying much) was NYC's The Red Romance . We actually saw these guys open for the excellent 1990s at the RNR Hotel last year. They play a moderately entertaining version of indie pop and sound a lot like The Killers. I don't really have much else to add about them, they are fine. Oh, their bass player wears an ascot. I think he is trying to be ironic, or maybe not....

The second band was DC's own The Sketches. At first, I didn't care too much for their tunes and sauntered downstairs for some fresh air. I came back up for the second half of their set and again it was fine. The sound a lot like every other indie band out there. Nothing unique. Also, for some strange reason, one of their songs sounded like 1980s power balladeers REO Speedwagon. At that point I was ready to go, as I did not have high hopes for the headliners and was bored out of my skull and flipping through the latest copy of The Onion back at the merch table. The other members of RC convinced me to stay. Again, big mistake.

Telograph took the stage a few moments later. We inched toward the front (not difficult as the venue was about 1/2 full) to take in a band described as "grandiose, Brit-style pop rockers..." Wow, I couldn't stand this band from the get-go. As the first track moved into the second, I was kind of looking around wondering what all the hype was about. Again, they sound like every other band with little originality or uniqueness to their music. It was all very overproduced and I found myself dozing off as I leaned against one of the right-of-center stage support posts. What is it about this type of indie rock that I/we find so tiresome? Here are some comments by others regarding the show:

"The Telograph show made me ANGRY. I find it offensive when bands blatantly strive to fit a particular sound b/c they think it'll make them "big"."

I agree. It is definitely seems as they are striving for a particular sound. The music was described as "Brit-Pop". Maybe I am an old geezer, but Brit-Pop to me describes bands like Blur, Oasis, Pulp, etc. I would even go as far back as Suede, The Smiths, and even The La's to describe the Brit-Pop sound. However, more recently, I believe it has been used to describe bands like Coldplay, Doves, and Keane. Bands that suck IMHO. So, from now on, if you are labeling your band "Brit-Pop", please differentiate between good Brit-Pop (the former) vs. shitty Brit-Pop (the latter) However, to put you in a good mood in the midst of all this negativity here is a video of the beloved Radiohead playing a cover of one of the best Smiths songs ever:

"If I may, it seems like the problem with these guys is that they're too polished and "arena-ready" (their own words, see here). There's nothing wrong with that really, a good song is a good song no matter if it's Dan Fogelberg or The Yeah Yeah Yeahs singing it. The crux of it is that the songs aren't nearly as good as they think they are (again, see the aforementioned article, they seem pretty high on themselves) and since the songs aren't good enough all the posturing and overproducing and emoting and Cold Play-ing comes off as looking pretty stupid. They can add French Horn and mellotron all they want--if the song doesn't sound good with one guy playing it on an acoustic guitar then it won't sound good with all that other shit added to it. "

Another excellent point. I think these guys have big aspirations and are looking for the big score. Apparently, they opened for O.A.R in some big stadiums. If this is their motivation for playing music, then so be it, best of luck to them.

Look, lets face it, music is very subjective. I have been reading posts on other blogs/forums regarding the best/worst shows of 2007. Its funny how much crossover there is on these lists. One dude will write," Yeah, the ____ show was the best I've seen all year." Meanwhile, some other dude is trashing the very same show. Its up to the individual to decide what they like (and do not like). However, one thing that bothers me is the notion of "supporting local bands," because well, uh, they are local. Just because a band is from DC, doesn't mean they are fucking good. I understand that local bands need our support, because that is how they become "non-local" bands. However, do we need to massage the proverbial balls of every indie rock band from the DC Metro area? There are good local bands, and there are certainly plenty of bad ones. However, it seems that many of the local blogs tend to be proponents of every single lame ass band out there, just because they are local. If you want a different opinion of this show, please check here. They obviously have a different view of the show than we did.

In lieu of a RC rating for this weeks show we decided to use a different type of grading system. I introduce to you the Bristol Scale:

"The Bristol Stool Form Scale or Bristol Stool Chart is a classification of the form, that is appearance in a toilet, of human feces into seven groups. It was developed by Dr. K. Hering at the University of Bristol and was first published in the British Medical Journal in 1990.[1] The form of the stool depends on the time it spends in the colon."

So, to the boys in Telograph, and please don't take this the wrong way, but your show was like a Type 3 stool: "like a sausage, but with cracks on the surface."


Jimbromski said...

Funny..."please don't take this the wrong way." What would be the right way to take someone comparing your music to a sausage-like piece of poo?

I also want to note I don't blindly support local stores, either. I go to WalMart for the low low prices. No local store that I've ever "supported" has ever returned the favor and supported me, so fuck them.

Anonymous said...

First, I am off breakfast tacos because of Motley Crue. Now, I am off breakfast completely thanks to the Bristol chart. Ugh.

I live in Austin. If I supported every local band, I would be supporting lots of crappy music. It's America, dangit! I support what I want, when I want! Let Freedom Ring!

PS: I love Brit Pop.

Jumbo Slice said...

I don't begrudge a band for wanting to get signed and sell records. That's fine. I just don't like when bands ditch any integrity and take the shortest route from point A to point B. Telograph is that sort of band. Look at their latest EP. They took the same songs they put out before and hired a slick producer to give them more appeal. Now they just sound like a bunch of other crappy bands that happen to sell records. Why not work hard to put out something innovative and your own? Instead they opted for the shortcut and something completely derivative.

There a lot of local groups that are driven by the desire to make good music instead of the hope of making it big. Telograph just isn't one of those bands. I support local bands but when a band sounds this bad you have to tell it like it is. They seem to have listened to too many blogs saying how great they are. Sorry, we're not trying to be jerks, but your music is horrible.

I'd rate Telograph a Type 4 on the Bristol scale because everything about them is soft.

Jimbromski said...

These guys are like Liz Phair, got the big producer and went mainstream.

Just want to make clear there's nothing wrong with striving for the big time and aspiring to the bitches/money/drugs that go with. That's capitalism and it's what made America numero uno.

I saw an interview with Camper Van Beethoven once, they were talking about how they had become indie giants, and David Lowery was mad about it because he hadn't set out to become an indie giant, he wanted to be the next Rolling Stones.

So naked ambition is okay. But to again quote The Smiths, "you just haven't earned it yet, baby."

Doesn't mean that Telograph won't someday reach our exacting standards, maybe move up to Type 1 on the BSS.

Anonymous said...

I love capitalism. I hate "TelOgraph." What was wrong with "Telegraph" AKA The Traditional Spelling?! It's not like the their way sets them apart in some radical way. Very lame. I guess I will have to wait to hear about it on VH1 Behind the Music or whatever people watch anymore.

Jimbromski said...

Attn: TelOgraph STOP
Re: your band name STOP
Please spell it the right way STOP
yours, Western Union STOP

me! said...

"However, do we need to massage the proverbial balls of every indie rock band from the DC Metro area?"

haha right on