Free and legal MP3: Telekinesis (buzzy power pop)

The Seattle-based one-man-band Telekinesis is back with more of that chunky, buzzy, power poppy goodness.

Telekinesis

“Car Crash” – Telekinesis

The Seattle-based one-man-band Telekinesis is back with more of that chunky, buzzy, power poppy goodness. “Car Crash” starts with a thin, AM-radio sound and a rich, NRBQ-ish melody. Roughly 30 seconds in, the full sound hits—and a bottom-heavy sound at that, all fuzzy bass and driving percussion—but hang on a second, what’s he actually singing about?: “Will I die alone?/You know, I’m so concerned/You know, I’m so confused/Like a lost child, a little lost child.” This is surely not what the music is telling us, so yeah, this is one of those “sad words/happy music” juxtapositions that can be so strangely appealing. Let’s not forget that this zippy, sing-along-y confection is called “Car Crash,” after all. And while it may be reasonable to imagine the end of love as a car crash, I think I’m hearing here the equation of a car crash to the random, uncontrollable, confusing beginning part, too: falling in love as car crash.

Telekinesis is the work of 24-year-old Seattle-based singer/songwriter/drummer Michael Benjamin Lerner. Like last year’s self-titled debut album, the new Telekinesis album was produced by Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) and performed largely by Lerner. He is however taking two band mates on the road and has intimated that Telekinesis may be in the process of turning into an actual band (a “power trio,” in his words). The forthcoming album is called 12 Desperate Straight Lines and will be released on Merge Records in February. MP3 via Spin.com.

Free and legal MP3: Headlights (breezy & memorable, a la NRBQ)

Consciously or not, “Get Going” offers up delightful echoes of a band few may remember, and fewer probably listen to anymore, NRBQ. During their late ’70s comeback years, in and around their goofier bar-band numbers, NRBQ let loose a bunch of simultaneously breezy and memorable pop songs a whole lot like this one in tone, vibe, and spirit.

“Get Going” – Headlights

Consciously or not, “Get Going” offers up delightful echoes of a band few may remember, and fewer probably listen to anymore, NRBQ. During their late ’70s comeback years, in and around their goofier bar-band numbers, NRBQ let loose a bunch of simultaneously breezy and memorable pop songs a whole lot like this one in tone, vibe, and spirit. The airy charm of Tristan Wraight’s tenor further recalls the unexpectedness sweetness infusing gems like “Ridin’ In My Car,” “I Want You Bad,” and “Me and the Boys.” Even the title sounds like something the ‘Q might have recorded.

But “Get Going” should likewise please the ear of the NRB-clueless. (Sorry; didn’t mean that as an insult, just couldn’t resist coining that phrase.) Listen to the way the melody in the verses keeps being drawn up: the lyrical lines each ending with an upward third interval, the middle of the line often pivoting on an upward fifth. Pop melodies much more typically lead in a general downward direction, the way water naturally heads towards lower ground. There’s something invigorating, if subtly off-kilter, in going against the norm in this way. The other thing I’m enjoying here is the guitar work, which engagingly interweaves an acoustic rhythm, an old-fashioned electric lead, and something unexpectedly drone-like. The way Erin Fein–normally the band’s lead vocalist–appears through a kind of underwater filter during the short bridge (1:36) is another whimsical highlight of this brief but emphatic song.

“Get Going” is from Wildlife, the Champaign-based quartet’s fourth album, released on Polyvinyl Records earlier this month. The band was previously featured on Fingertips for the wonderful song “Cherry Tulips” in January 2008. MP3 originally via Polyvinyl, but song lingers online on the music review site One Track Mind.