Band of the Day

2011.10.16

Telekinesis

Indie pop trio with a heart on sleeve approach to songwriting
You're like a puzzle that can't be solved, missing pieces never fill the gaps.
lyrics from Please Ask For Help

Telekinesis is a power pop/indie rock band from Seattle, Washington. The group began as one-man recording project headed by Michael Benjamin Lerner (vocals, drums), and expanded to a trio for live shows, featuring Cody Votolato (guitar, background vocals) and Jason Narducy (bass, guitar, background vocals). Typical Telekinesis songs demonstrate a knack for catchy power pop and 60s-influenced hooks. His songs tend to be short and sweet, with minimal use of instrumental effects or post-production studio tricks. In 2008, Telekinesis's debut EP Toulouse-Lautrec (named after the French painter) was self-released, catching the attention of Merge Records. Merge would later release the Telekinesis! LP in 2009, the Parallel Seismic Conspiracies EP in 2010 and the 12 Desperate Straight Lines LP in 2011.

Telekinesis is the stage name of Michael Benjamin Lerner, a singing drummer based out of Seattle, Washington. A one-man band in the studio, Lerner fills out the Telekinesis lineup with touring musicians. Telekinesis creates music with less city grit and more of a suburban feel—think flannel shirts, lumberjack beards, and drinking coffee from one of Seattle's infamous coffeehouses on a gray, drizzly day. Lerner is no trend-chaser, he’s happy writing songs that would fit in nicely with late 90s or early aughts indie rock greats like Death Cab For Cutie, Nada Surf or Built to Spill while also embracing the legacy of power pop legends like Matthew Sweet. So it’s no wonder that Lerner enlisted Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla to produce his 2009 debut Telekinesis! and follow-up 12 Desperate Straight Lines, released in 2011. Telekinesis first grabbed the attention of the music world with “Coast of Carolina,” a moving 3 and a half minutes of rock that recalls early Weezer, back when they were awesome. The track begins with Lerner's guitar and vocals, fuzzy and lo-fi like they're coming out of a transistor radio, before the track crashes into focus with a full band and high-fidelity production. It's a trick, but done flawlessly. “Tokyo” is a playful rocker whose chorus will lodge itself soundly in your brain, and won't come out until you check out their sophomore album and play “Gotta Get It Right Now.” It's another power-pop track, but this time with a Wilco-y feel to its crunching guitars and fun-loving chorus. While Telekinesis' music serves well as a background for roadtrips or summer rooftop parties, the lyrics should not to be ignored. There is a heart on sleeve approach to the songwriting, with recurring themes of long distance love, growing up, breaking up, wanderlust—and occasional moments of optimism.