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CD Review: Telekinesis - 'Telekinesis!'

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Friday, June 12, 2009

TELEKINESIS

"Telekinesis!"

Kindred spirits: Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie

Show: Wednesday at the Black Cat. Show starts at 9 p.m. 202-667-7960. http://www.blackcatdc.com.

Telekinesis is essentially just Michael Benjamin Lerner, a bespectacled, boyish guy from the Pacific Northwest. But, given his album's spirited energy, it wouldn't be hard to believe the album was produced by a bunch of sweaty rockers in a dimly lit garage.

On Telekinesis's eponymous debut, Lerner sang and wrote every track and played most of the instruments. Lerner's most energetic songs are his best. The first half of the album contains several enjoyable nuggets of anthemic rock, from the chugging riffs of "Foreign Room" to the singalong stomp of "Coast of Carolina." On "Awkward Kisser," he affects a '50s jukebox vibe, adding just enough distortion to keep it modern.

The album isn't particularly innovative, but when it comes to songwriting Lerner is a skilled craftsman.

The second half of "Telekinesis!" incorporates more relaxed tempos and a broader sonic palette than just electric guitars. However, it's also slightly less successful. It's easy to understand Lerner's urge to vary the energy levels across the album. But the rip-roaring guitars of such songs as "Look to the East" are the most enjoyable part of Lerner's project.

For instance, take the two quiet closers: the earnest, piano-driven "Calling All Doctors" and the acoustic love song "I Saw Lightning." They're both solid pop tracks but seem like downers after all the fun on the first half.

-- Dan Miller


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