Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wisconsin's Telethon goes all in with a brand new, full-length, punk rock opera that might blow your mind.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I’m only slowly starting to get back into the groove of listening to new music. After the events of November 2, it’s taken me a while to even want to write at all again, much less listen to new stuff. But I am who I am, and of course it was only going to be a matter of time before I started digging through the inbox with anything resembling life again.

So what timing! The subject line in an email I got yesterday read “The 90-minute, 30-track punk rock opera that just might be your new favorite record….” And hot damn if that doesn’t sound like something I would love, right? Of course the danger is that often a promise like that falls really flat—but I couldn’t resist giving it a listen.

Luckily for my fragile and recovering soul, Milwaukee’s Telethon delivers on that subject line’s promise with their new album The Grand Spontanean: A Tale Told In Five Acts.

See? They're not all serious all the time.
Much like their neighbors Tenement, Telethon are ostensibly “punk rock” but veer all over the place genre-wise on The Grand Spontanean. The album comes with a meticulously put together playbill that outlines the troy within, but I’ll admit that since I’ve only had the music since yesterday I honestly have no idea what the grand storyline is. The grand, sweeping collection of music is probably bolstered by the album’s concept, but it stands completely on its own (so don’t let the term “punk rock opera” turn you off if you’re afraid it’s wither too high concept or prog to digest).

And I'm reading some press calling these folks "emo." Don't believe that either. It's just really good fucking rock and roll that isn't afraid of bursting expectations and boundaries in service of each song's specific wants and needs.

Throughout the album there are "fake" punk rock bands within the band (The New Improbables); guest stars galore including Laura Stevenson, Franz Nicolay, Roger Lima, Chris Farren, and Peter Hess. And the whole thing was prodcued by Jack Shirley, who has also been behind the boards for other recent faves of mine from Jeff Rosenstock and Joyce Manor (and I guess he’s also worked with Deafheaven, but I confess I’ve never really been able to get into them, so I’m less familiar).

The most amazing thing about this musical feat is that the band is currently offering the album for free or pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp right now. So you would be an absolute fool to not even just check it out.

Sadly, they don’t appear to have any shows currently scheduled, but after seeing where they’ve been playing in Chicago it appears MPShows is still way ahead of the curve and have already done a handful of events with the band, so hopefully it won’t be long before they make it back through town. Should they venture into your neighborhood though, I suspect theirs is a live act very much worth checking out.

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