I’m always a little leery when I see that a musical act is being promoted as just one person. Whether it be an artist going by his actual name (e.g. M. Ward or Conor Oberst) or a pseudonym (e.g. Phosporescent or early Bright Eyes).
I realize that most of these solo artists have some help on a record and in live performances, but, generally, I assume their music is going to be too boring or not have enough going on.
I’ve often been proven wrong in this regard, but never more than when I listened to Telekinesis. While it’s often referred to as a band, according to most sources, its sole member is Michael Benjamin Lerner.
Considering the number of instruments that can be heard on his/their albums — guitars, bass, keyboard, drums — one is left to wonder if he just moves from station to station, recording each instrument and piecing it all together in the end. More than likely, he’s got a bunch of studio musicians helping him out, but they just don’t get prominent credit.
All of this is really irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that Telekinesis has put out three albums since “forming” in 2008, and all of them are above average.
That is the big single from the band’s 2009 debut, Telekinesis! It’s a pretty good representation of what Lerner has been doing ever since. Just straight-forward indie rock that’s catchy and filled with fun, clever lyrics.
Other strong tracks from that disc are “Imaginary Friend”, “Tokyo”, “Look To the East”, “All of a Sudden” and “Calling All Doctors”.
Lerner’s vocals are reminiscent of fellow Seattle resident and doppelgänger Ben Gibbard, whose Death Cab For Cutie bandmate, Chris Walla, does a little bit of everything, including production, on Telekinesis’ first two records.
The 2011 follow-up, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, isn’t much different from its predecessor. Lerner and crew do sprinkle in a few different rock styles throughout. There’s a little bit of grunge on “50 Ways” and something harder on “Fever Chill”. The best is when they throw in a post-punk guitar riff on “Country Lane” and “Please Ask For Help”.
Other notable entries here are “Gotta Get It Right Now”, “Palm of Your Hand” and “Car Crash”.
For the latest release, Dormarion, which came out this past April, Lerner traveled to Austin, Texas, to record in the studio of Spoon drummer Jim Eno. The album is named after the studio’s location, on Dormarion Lane.
I don’t know if the switch is what caused it, but this record isn’t as strong as the previous two. It does have a very strong single in “Ghosts and Creatures”, but the rest is hit or miss. The few other songs worth mentioning are “Wires”, “You Take It Slowly” and “Ever True”. A lot of people have praised album opener “Power Lines”, but it’s only so-so.
It would appear as though I’ve already missed Telekinesis’ latest swing through the Midwest. Perhaps I’ll catch him/them when they pass through again.