Friday, May 15, 2020

THE CORNER LAUGHERS/Temescal Telegraph review

(Big Stir Records)

We all experience those perfect moments in our lives. You know, when that cool breeze hits you on a warm day, bringing with it the smell of fresh cut grass. Or the moment when that secret crush of yours reveals that they feel the same way about you. Or when that super rare import CD that you’ve been searching for ends up in the dollar bin at your local shop. Yeah, those are just some of the perfect moments in life that send electrified joy racing through your veins. While those moments may not come as often as we’d like, we never forget them. Each of us may have different views on life – religion, politics, pastries – but at least we are all connected by the experience of unbridled joy.

And that brings me to TEMESCAL TELEGRAPH, the brand new album by Bay Area quartet The Corner Laughers. In some ways, describing The Corner Laughers is like trying to explain the entire plot – and every subplot - of Twin Peaks in four words or less. And while The Corner Laughers are nothing like Twin Peaks, there is an element to their sound that is just as mysterious. And somewhere, buried deep in that mystery, is the magic that makes their music come alive. And that ‘magic’ is what creates so many perfect moments on TEMESCAL TELEGRAPH. The 'mysterious' part is, "How do they do that?" and "Why aren't they one of the biggest Indie bands on the planet?"

This is a band that operates on chemistry. Karla Kane (vocals/ukulele), Khoi Huynh (guitar/bass/vocals), Charlie Crabtree (drums), and KC Bowman (guitar/bass/piano) are The Corner Laughers. They make music that is born from the earth and baked to a golden brown by the warmth of the sun. Each song unfolds like a musical fairy tale, whisking your imagination away to a place where happiness, warmth, and honesty roam free. But don’t think for a moment that this is light-hearted hippie hash – this is music that is rooted in reality. The lyrics are based in real life. This is music made by smart people in a world that is crying out for hope. It is music that will remind you of that cool breeze and fresh cut grass. It will make you feel loved, like that crush did so long ago. And holding this release in your hands is like finding buried treasure at the bottom of a sea of mediocrity.

TEMESCAL TELEGRAPH is the follow-up to their excellent 2015 album MATILDA EFFECT and Karla’s fantastic solo album KING’S DAUGHTERS HOME FOR INCURABLES. There’s really no right way to describe the album. Is it Folk? Is it Power Pop? Is it Alternative Rock? Indie Pop? Sunshine Pop? Once “The Calculating Boy” kicks things off, you’ll throw all of those ‘genres’ out the window and sink into the music… or the music will sink into you. This is a bit of everything. At once. In your face. Karla’s vocals may lead the ‘melodic hook’ department, but you’ll soon discover that there’s so much going on ‘behind the scenes’ – chugging guitars, playful keyboards, inventive percussion, melodic basslines – that your attention will be drawn to each instrument’s importance in creating that ‘sound’. “The Accepted Time” is tender and tough, embracing you with a few delicious hooks that you’ll have swirling around in your head for days. “The Lilac Line” is a robust full-band re-recording of a fabulous track from Karla’s solo album. Also, “Sisters Of The Pollen” is a superior re-recording of a digital-only solo release from Kane (the other track from that single that is included here, a cover of Martin Newell’s “Goodguy Sun”, sounds like it could be the same version). “Wren In The Rain” is the perfect balance between the beauty of Karla’s voice and the muscular Pop thump of her bandmates. “Skylarks Of Britain” travels down different musical paths – from British Folk to Psych, to Pure Pop before descending into Tribal Psych. “Changeling” has a whiff of Mungo Jerry floating within its playful grooves. And there’s so much more to this album to love. And I mean LOVE. All caps.

This is real. This that perfect moment. This is TEMESCAL TELEGRAPH.

Be well,
Stephen Schnee

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