Telekinesis ‘Dormarion’


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#858 in the Series) is Telekinesis, Dormarion (Merge Records)

It is May 3rd, and I’m just saying it right now. This will be the album of the summer. Hailing from Seattle, Telekinesis (Michael Benjamin Lerner’s one-man show) has just rocked my life with the new album Dormarion. Sometimes I struggle with writing the same thing about all the bands I like. They’re all good for pretty much the same reasons: folksy, rootsy, soulful, rooted, vintage, twangy, jangly, whatever. Telekinesis is different, and not necessarily my usual fare. But man is it good.

They’ve got driving, bright acoustic guitar, a bit of gravel in the voice, an oh-ohoh-oh right away. Right away I know this is going to be good.

With a  classic chunky up-tempo rockin’ blues riff, the first track builds up to an explosion of electric energy and vocals, and then…. then…. they add a full-bodied synth. Very cool and interesting. I could definitely see them sharing a stage with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or, for an early 2000s throwback, Jet. Lerner is very comfortable with his voice, not straining, just really nailing it.

“Power Lines” also sounds like one of those classic Cadillac commercials that shows their latest and greatest model zipping through the countryside with Zeppelin blaring over the top of everything. This has enough force to compete.

It takes me a little while to put my finger on it, but the second track “Empathetic People” reminds me SO much of Weezer’s “Possibilities” from Maladroit — more distortion and a lighter, smoother sound than Weezer, but still really very similar, especially in the drum track. It breaks down into vocal and drum only about 0:55. I like. Also sounds like what The Killers are going for when they’re at their best.

Track three is “Ghosts and Creatures” whichtelekinesis-c2e3988a59f5ff7a is also the first single. Here he mellows out with much more of the dreamy-synth pop thing going on. I want to see them doing this song on a festival stage, late at night, warm weather, breeze. I don’t have to be crushed up toward the front. I just want to be in the general vicinity and take it all in from a medium distance. Maybe there’s an ocean nearby – this track actually sounds like it’s using a sample of tide and surf underneath the instrumentation. Really soothing. Put together a split 7″ with this song and something by Explosions in the Sky and I’ll buy 10 of em for me and my closest friends.

Track four “Wires” picks the tempo back up to snap me out of my laconic dream-haze. (Not so soon!) I’m still hearing early Jimmy Eat World and either some Black Keys “Lonely Boy” vocals or a uber-cool Chappo aesthetic in there. I’m I also think that this is what I want the National to be – when I listen to them, I like it, I just get so damn depressed! Telekinesis has that great electro/synth blend and can vamp without being either maudlin or candyass shallow.

“Lean on Me” — More of a simplistic structure here. Less synth and more old-school Dick Dale type stuff.

My dad once wore a t-shirt that I always liked. It just read “Music Makes me Happy.” Yeah, this music definitely makes me happy. It’s a real mood lifter. The tracks are short and sweet, none of them clocking over 3:15, but they’re not serving up any empty calories. There’s a bunch of substance in that short track.

“Symphony” – now here’s a legitimate ballad. It’s like that cliché of dreaming about swimming through a sky of beautiful white puffy clouds, sailing on your belly, then slowly rotating to float and glide on your back, and then slowing rotating around again. You’re smiling with your eyes closed and the wind is washing over your blisssed out body. If you’re not in touch with your emotions, listen to Telekinesis. You soon will be.

“Dark to Light” – the chord progression moves effortlessly, somehow accomplishing a grittiness in the guitar while smoothly sailing from one bar to the next. And then come the synth streaks underneath. Very subtle, but adds a whimsical layer. The track actually ends with about 25 seconds of the synth convincing you that the band has just been abducted by aliens. But they’re not harmful. They just came to play.

“Little Hill” – Green Day Brain Stew copycat riff opens, but the song proceeds and it’s not nearly so frowny as Billie Joe Armstrong would have done it. It’s just not in their nature. We get some nice bass driving the vocals for the first time on this track as well. They’re good at mixing it up.

telekinesis_blueshirt“Ever True” – You knew it was coming. The balls-out 80s song. Here you’ll hear no instrumentation not done by or with the aid of a computer. This lacks depth, but is still enjoyable. It reminds me a lot of “Blue Monday” by New Order. I don’t love that song, but I tolerate this one.

“Island #4” – I’m finally hearing the Death Cab influence.  It’s all over this track, the first half of which is vocals and electric guitar only with no drum or bass and a keyboard only as an accent piece. After that it breaks down in to full-on arena anthem. The rhyming structure is so, so sweet, and it just squeezes the emotion out of every note. It’s definitely the handiwork of Chris Walla.

“Laissez-Faire” – Got that Black-Keys-with-more-polish sound back again. Nice hiccups and rhythm breaks keep the energy up and the syncopation is a welcome twist.

“You Take it Slowly” – another plodding upbeat anthem/jam. Not a stand out, though it is the longest track and the closest thing they have to a jam on the record. It definitely establishes closure, and at the end of this amazing romp, you’re left with a lone ringing note of reverb, the beautiful letdown. This album ends much in the same way as Weezer’s blue ends with “Only in Dreams,” a buildup to a face-scrunching chorus, spilling into a grandiose finale.

Thank you Telekinesis for getting me excited about summertime and happy music without your completely pandering to the teeny bopper consumer. Even though I just want to blast every track with the windows down and drive 80 mph, I’m also reveling in the intricacies and the sophistication of your work. You have true integrity and talent. This people is a really nice album.

– Robin Crocker, Portland Oregon, USA Please visit and LIKE our facebook page

Track Listing

  1. Power LinesTelekinesis_stripedwindow_KyleJohnson_lo
  2. Empathetic People
  3. Ghosts and Creatures
  4. Wires
  5. Lean on Me
  6. Symphony
  7. Dark to Light
  8. Little Hill
  9. Ever True
  10. Island #4
  11. Laissez-faire
  12. You Take It Slowly

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