Kt Emmerson Explores Three Reasons Why Tele Novella (and Beatniks Are Still Cool)
Tele Novella can be found on iTunes.
by Kt Emmerson
You know how when you were a budding teen you saw your first beatniks on TV, oh so cool, snapping in black and white? It blew your mind that cool and wicked smart went together like peanut butter and jelly! No? This only happened to me? Well, in any case, I dawned my blunt bangs and brooding face for the rest of my faux intellectual adolescence, and everything “Beat” still gives me a seductive superiority complex. So, when I hear a band’s sound and especially its lyrics that conjure an image of a smoky character unleashing prose and poetry of uncommon intelligence and Bukowski-like earthy-truth bombs, I fall in love fast.
The first reason you should listen to Tele Novella is that you will feel intellectually superior. They are a loung-y, ghostly, psychedelic band out of Austin, and not only made my jaw drop in awe of their soulful sexiness, but I also had to pull out my LIT 101 textbook from freshman year to refresh my literary terminology. Was the singer speaking in colloquialisms, idioms, or euphemisms? … Check out these super smarty malapert lyrics from “Carpathia”.
“If it doesn’t taste good, you’re not hungry enough…”
“and they all look like nails when you have a hammer…”
“So, nail your colors to the mast, we all know the ships going down, let us make a seaweed crown, to the briny throne, all our names are spelled the same, in the lobby of the flesh arcade…”
Oooo! It’s all so juicy, even if I don’t really get it.
Lovely and morbid, especially if you know that the Carpathia was the first ship on the scene of the sinking Titanic, transporting 706 survivors to New York’s harbor (full disclosure, my Trivial Pursuit master husband gave me that reference). What a way to bring forth those haunting images of those going down to their cold, creepy death! If you aren’t pining of Halloween’s dead souls or a marathon rerun of The Munsters.
Now let me present the second reason you should listen to Tele Novella, it’s almost Oct. 31 and you need to get your Halloween on! In “Sacramento”, you meet a little more surf and lounge with your amped up spooky. This is the modern day Monster Mash and it does not disappoint. I challenge you to compare a better drum sequence. Her spooky reverbed voice so lovely and again, those wicked clever lyrics, “the house of souls is calling you home, hear the ringing in your ears, it’s known you all these years…” Ok, maybe I spend too much time with preschoolers to have an educated take on smart lyrics, but, so what.
Friends, can I digress for a minute? I’ve only had one boyfriends’ mom not like me (ok, I didn’t have too many boyfriends either) and I’ve never forgotten what she told her sweet little son who graced me with his boyfriend-hood. She said I was CAMPY! First of all, what 14 years old can really be called campy? And what exactly is campy?
“Being so extreme that it has an amusing and sometimes perversely sophisticated appeal. Over the top and farcical, intentionally exaggerated so as not to be taken seriously. Found primarily in television, theatre and motion pictures, camp endeavors for satire and, for those who fully understand and appreciate the risible nature of its material, it’s not surprising when it develops a cult following.”
I’ve spent this last 20 or so years (wait, 30 years?) reading every definition I could get my hands on and, you know, I came to embrace that ‘insult‘, even embodying it, at least on the inside. I think that’s why Tele Novella is awesome. Reason number three is they are exactly CAMPY and kitsch, of the most avant-garde, fine arts kind of way. See if you think so too.
If Star Trek/Planet of the Apes/Lost in Space is more your creepy jam, then The “Heavy Balloon” (below) is for you. Couple it with the very cool and richly odd video and the bizarre and altogether incomprehensible lyrics, it is radio gold for the odd set.
Oh, and I think I’ve thought of my Halloween costume this year…I might have traded in my pencil thin miniskirt-esque physic for rounder childbearing hips, but you will have to tear this striped top and black capris off my cold dead body. Let’s hope not, though. Happy Ghouls Day!
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