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Chinese Telephones - Chinese Telephones (Cover Artwork)

Chinese Telephones

Chinese Telephones: Chinese TelephonesChinese Telephones (2007)
It's Alive Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: matt_bmatt_b
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Apathy: a lethal killer if there ever was one. It ruins kids in school, numbs those in the heartless American workforce, and, as far as bands go, destroys them. So when Milwaukee pop-punk outfit Chinese Telephones spoke of finishing their full-length album in November 2006, yet failed to produce any.
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Apathy: a lethal killer if there ever was one. It ruins kids in school, numbs those in the heartless American workforce, and, as far as bands go, destroys them. So when Milwaukee pop-punk outfit Chinese Telephones spoke of finishing their full-length album in November 2006, yet failed to produce any actual evidence of said record one year later, I got scared. But, no need to worry: The fruits of their labor finally rear its ugly head in this storied band's self-titled debut full-length.

Chinese Telephones is as much a declaratory statement about the current state of the band as an unheralded, innocent release by some virgin band. Chinese Telephones first made noise back in 2003 with their first couple tours. From there, lineup changes and break-ups alike, the band continued, releasing a few 7" records and a split. While only met with modest approval, the relationship formed with Jeff Burke of Potential Johns / Marked Men fame helped garner more attention for the still young, ambitious band.

After being guided under the wing of Burke and Mark Ryan in recording their self-titled debut, Chinese Telephones present a band that is done with the Screeching Weasel homage and ready to brave a tried and true genre with a refreshing yet classic idea of what pop-punk should sound like.

Right from the beginning, the Telephones don't waste time, explaining through their blasting guitars and alternating, somewhat rushed vocals of "I Can't Be Right" exactly what their intentions are. They continue from there with a ferocity and unrelenting character that is present throughout the entire album. That isn't to say the record is unapproachable, but rather that it never slows down -- it never lets the listener even dare think about turning it off.

Justin finally comes into his own on this record, delivering vocals on the tip of stress through what seems to be a less-than-suitable recording device, a touch I'm sure Burke takes some responsibility for. But the slightly filtered-like vocals combined with bassist Andy Junk's backup vocals, with help from Burke along the way, create a perfect haven for honest lo-fi vocals in an increasingly more contrived lo-fi community.

The Telephones continue to harness their crunchy lead-driven guitar sound with Daniel James at the helm. They have never been partial to typical short pop-punk leads, but Chinese Telephones addresses the concern and solidifies the band's position on the matter. Tracks such as "Tell Me Tell Me" with its mood-creating lead set the tone and drives the entire song. Others, like "It's Starting Again," show exactly what Chinese Telephones are capable of doing with their interpretation of what four-piece pop-punk should be.

Even though Chinese Telephones are not new to the game, this is their most determined effort to date, and unfortunately succumbs to some of the most rudimentary pitfalls releases of this scale fall to. Though they were under the guidance of Burke, the mixing could have been better, accentuating some of Chinese Telephones' stronger components, such as James' leads. Tracks like "This Time Next Year," now seeing its second reincarnation ("I Think I Can Breathe Now" is on its third), hark back to the previous recording where James' lead gets justice. Also, maybe it's me, but "Crying in the Chapel" is better suited on the next Marked Men record than a Chinese Telephones album. Maybe it was Burke's influence in the studio; maybe it was because he wrote it, I don't know… Either way, while one of the standout tracks, I find it a bit discomforting that they would have included it on the record.

Chinese Telephones have long been riding under the radar, disguised as just another Screeching Weasel-indebted pop-punk band. But, they finally take a stand and show a crowded scene exactly what they're made of. And they chose the perfect time to do just that.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dear Landlord - Dream HomesThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Descendents - Milo Goes To CollegeThe Copyrights - Make SoundDefiance, Ohio - The Great DepressionThe Ergs! - DorkrockcorkrodTeenage Bottlerocket - TotalThe Clash - London CallingOperation Ivy - Operation IvyAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Johntx (December 3, 2008)

I don't entirely understand the hype behind this band. After hearing nothing but great things about them, when their split LP with The Potential Johns came out I picked it up and found myself unimpressed. The Potential Johns side blew me away, but the Chinese Telephones lacked energy and creativity. This LP isn't any different. As much as I wanted to love this band, I just don't see anything special about them and have a hard time even listening to the album from start to finish. Mediocre at best.

slymer (February 21, 2008)

I like these guys more than the Ergs

rocktopus (February 3, 2008)

Yeah, didn't like it. Got it after it was on Mitch Clem's top ten of 07. Usually what he suggests on that is gold, but this wasn't so. Maybe I should give it another go or two, it might grow on me.

Fucking love the Marked Men.

Bipedcasserole (February 3, 2008)

anything associated with The Marked Men is gravy on my mashed potatoes.

Fix My Brain was the best thing that ever happened to 2006.

BANGARANG (February 3, 2008)

It's about time someone did a review for this album.

Hey_Asshole (February 2, 2008)

saw these guys last week with The Copyrights and Teenage Bottlerocket.

they were good live, but i can not sit and listen to the cd...

JerryCola (February 2, 2008)

"But like i implied, i've never known a band to legitimately record a song written by someone else who had barely any connection to the band. Which would be fine, if it didn't scream Marked Men. Regardless, love the song."

Well to me it doesn't matter that Justin didn't write the song, I think the song fits with the rest of the album.

To me it sounds like a song that Jeff wrote for the album while he was producing it and not a Marked Men song that was just sitting around waiting to be recorded. I could be completely wrong though about that one.

fallingupwards84 (February 2, 2008)

hmmm good memory, yea i defended Underoath's latest album, as did Brian from the punknews staff: http://www.punknews.org/review/5418 , although i wouldnt consider myself a big fan b/c i dont really listen to that genre of music

as far as this band goes, its just not my cup of tea. bands like this and the Copyrights come across as ramones-wannabe bands who can write their overly-simple songs in a couple of minutes. i mean, thats fine for some people, i just get bored with it.

names (February 2, 2008)

to JerryCola:

I just want to say, if you noticed, i said "Crying in the Chapel" is one of the standout tracks. Hell, its one of my favorite they've ever done. But like i implied, i've never known a band to legitimately record a song written by someone else who had barely any connection to the band. Which would be fine, if it didn't scream Marked Men. Regardless, love the song.

ashtraymonument (February 2, 2008)

i liked it, but i really don't think its as great as everyone says.

nocigar (February 2, 2008)

Underoath? HAHAHAHA they fucking suck.

This album is cool though.

NotPatriotic (February 2, 2008)

"boring, repetitive, pop music"

I really can't understand how a person can like Underoath and dislike Chinese Telephones. It boggles my mind. I am not trying start an argument or anything, I just can't comprehend. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

This album is fantastic. Probably my second favorite LP from 2007, Death to Idealism by Red Dons is just a little better. The poster that comes with the record is amazing as well. I love It's Alive Records.

cooltobeyou (February 2, 2008)

This is pretty damn close to being my favorite album of 2007. The only album that really competed with this, for me, was The Copyrights "Make Sound."

Either way though, this Chinese Telephones full length is unbelievably awesome. It hasn't left my CD player or my record player since it came out in December.

randomd (February 2, 2008)

haven't heard this yet, their split with dear landlord is great though

fallingupwards84 (February 2, 2008)

boring, repetitive, pop music

JerryCola (February 2, 2008)

This album is just so fucking good. Back To You Again is one of the catchiest tunes out there right now.

I disagree what the review says about "Crying in the Chapel " because its a great song and I'm glad its on here. I want to see the Chinese Telephones should play that song live.

contrarian (February 2, 2008)

I fucking love this record.

notfeelingcreative (February 1, 2008)

I kept thinking about writing a review for this but I never got around to it, great album!

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