I recently received an album from a friend of mine who is a v. talented (cough Grammy winner) music producer in Nashville. This is someone whose music tastes and extensive knowledge I have always respected. Mike was also a factor in some of my earliest music junky memories (his views on Peter Gabriel’s Sledge Hammer video stick out in particular). I was truly excited when he sent me a copy of Asleep In The Green, the album he just finished with a band called Telephant.
Telephant is a group based in Nashville, although after my first listen to the album I could have sworn they were British. On song such as Anne Frank, 1000 Violins and the title track Asleep In Green have clean slightly chamber popish arrangements that suggest the Walkmen. They show real chops when they push these talents to achieve a larger sound on songs like Songs For An Ancestral Alien and Robespierre. On these two tracks they build a sound and weave the lyrics into the entire sound an art mastered by the likes of Radiohead and Coldplay (two obvious influences on the group).
Telephant is also lyrically smart they don’t try too hard to be overly witty or verbose, as I said their strength is weaving their compositions and their words together to achieve a whole sound, when they toss in phrases like “In all of the kismet and proverbs and visions of the famed Holy Ghost and these strange superstitions” it tacks your ear to the lyrics forcing you to recognize there is more than just a great arrangement playing out.
If these tracks were the entirety of the record I would say they have a good chance of making a name for themselves with the current indie crowd. However they have spiced the album’s sound up with Botswanna a track that incorporates some Afro Pop elements to compliment the sound they brand on the rest of the album. The reach towards experimentation is done with comfort and to such a degree that it doesn’t tear the fabric of the album as a whole. It also suggests these fellas are drawing from a diverse range of inspiration, not just trying to be the next Coldplay. I can’t help but go full circle and suggest the influence of Peter Gabriel on this track as well as Rhythm Of The Sant’s era Paul Simon. While I’m not entirely sure Afro Pop is the direction they should be headed I genuinely appreciated the stylistic curiosity.
For a first album there are real signs of promise on Asleep In Green. If the boys of Telephant can enhance their recorded sound with a solid live show and maintain their curiosity while evolving to a more defined identity they could rightfully claim their place in the indie race. I would like to see them explore the subtle steel guitar/alt country tinge I began to notice after a few listens. Regardless, I look forward to seeing them live and would suggest you seek them out as well.
Fifth Ace of Anchors