Album Review: Telegraph Canyon – You From Before

You From Before by Telegraph Canyon

Review by Hannah of www.rockmycommute.com

You From Before is the fairly new 2015 release from Telegraph Canyon, and is now widely available even on Spotify so it will be easy for you to check this out! I love the name of the band, as it evokes something lonely yet gripping, like “Across A Wire” from the Counting Crows, or an unmistakable American Southwestern “out there” feel that is just so intriguing. One thing this album already has going for it, in my opinion – the length is just a short, sweet, straightforward 11 songs. None of that egotistic, overbearing, inflated song list that takes so much effort to digest – but just 11 of what Telegraph Canyon considers to be their best songs to release together for 2015.

This album opens with “Hundred Years” – the instrumentation at once echoey and full of reverb, while consisting of mainly a simple piano with background singing. The vocals are reminiscent of the edgy emotion behind a Kings of Leon song – but sweet and steady before being joined with a horn section. Overall the effect of this track is slow and thoughtful; almost dreamlike.

By contrast, Track #2 (called “Flood”) replaces the echoes with a more direct approach – it literally sounds like it was recorded live in a single room, all at once. A genuine effect, and appealing if you like it straight. You can see the “Indie Folk” style genre emerging a little more on this one, with some acoustic piano and a rowdy chorus of backing vocals over a nearly tribal and essential backing beat – lending an emotional intensity to rival the 2000s band Arcade Fire, as the singer chants he “could have been your Amen”.
“Why Let it Go” is next, and honestly is sounds kinda eerie at the start – like the Cure “Spiderman” song. This transitions to a soulful chorus, with a lead vocal style somehow like a hypothetical effect of Leonard Skynard blended with Beck…. This song is both jazzy and soulful at the same time, with some featured organ bits and overall good beats.

I didn’t have much to say about Track #4, called “Hung Up” – including lyrics such as “I’m not the one you want, not what you’re lookin’ for / I’ve even told you twice but you still wait for more”. However the next track is so funky (called “Old Hearts”), it will be impossible for you to stand still. It transitions to something a little shoegazy or emo on the sensitive chorus – I think there is some beautiful instrumentation here as the singer admits he’s got his “head above the water, but the waters always change”.

“Mantle” starts out a little strange, with some broken and creepy sampled sounds, but really this is a little more melodic and upbeat – like the recent “Wilder Mind” release by Mumford and Sons. And “Lightning” (Track #7) brings out a little of the old 90s rock style, like something by Better Than Ezra or the good ol’ Wallflowers. There is some crazy fun guitar on this one – under a lyrical structure and chorus reminiscent of Coldplay, even verbally reminding us that “love is often cold”.

“Haunted Woods” comes in with some simple, easy, Banjo chords as the withery, moonshiney, vocals call you with lyrics to “go choppin’ down trees”. As a result, this feels like a good “round the campfire” type of song – for the end of the night when everybody is bleary and contemplative anyhow. Track #9 is next, called “Wheel to the Garden”. This one is a little bit darker, and almost gospel-y on the chorus. It would seem that this album is getting slower and deeper as we move along – but there are also some good guitars that I enjoy here as well, that really keep the song feeling contemporary and edgy.

Track #10 (“Honey”) gives you some crazy Van Halen guitars on the opening – shredding mechanically under a more emotional set of keyboards and other sounds, before breaking into a guitar-fueled chorus that will almost have you singing along… This gritty nature of the guitars and the overall radio-friendly vibe of this song make it the most “Kings of Leon” of them all. This is definitely my favorite on You From Before! My only complaint is that “Honey” ends too abruptly.

At last we have the warbling, ballad-esque finale, the 11th track: a slow and heartfelt ending to the album, a track called “Magnetic”. It even includes violins for a bit of warmth, following a halting tempo, punctuated gently by drumbeats here and there, as the vocalist pines in a warning tone that “all you want is all you got”.

I know I have already mentioned this, but Telegraph Canyon really reminds me of Kings of Leon and Arcade Fire. These are unique, interesting, edgy songs – altogether an album I would otherwise highly recommend – except for the fact that not one single song grabbed me as the “hit” single, the hook, the reason I should fall in love with this release. So here I am, left with a list of songs that I am fine with and I can describe in my own way – but I just can’t recommend any outstanding individual items with my usual passion and enthusiasm.

What do you think? Check this out and let me know if any of the songs speak to you personally. I’m so curious to know, because the basics for excellence are certainly in place – so I’m sure these guys have a great chance and a bright future. Take a listen, and support their efforts by purchasing the album if it really moves you.

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