Philly punk trio Telepathic is lean and mean, direct and driven. Its performance for The Key Studio Sessions this week rocks out six jams econo in a little over eleven minutes — and here I thought last week’s session with Radiator Hospital was efficient! — and its forthcoming LP, Self Check Out, packs in a walloping 19 ragers with little in the way of excess. Basically, these are three humans who know exactly what they want to say, know how they want it to sound, and they waste no time getting to the point.
The band is comprised of three players — Rob Garcia on guitar and vocals, Sarah Everton on bass and vocals, Mark Rice on drums — who have moved in indie circles for a while now. Garcia and Everton co-fronted the asskicking Bleeding Rainbow, while Rice played in Jason Molina’s Magnolia Electric Co. But unlike other bands of scene vets that, oftentimes, can come across as cynically calculated in attempting to optimize industry forces in their favor moreso than making art, Telepathic is the opposite. They are art first, all the way, and to this observer, their EPs and the forthcoming LP seem to say “we’ve been down that road already. We hated it. This time, our music is for us.”
Which isn’t to say Telepathic a massive stylistic reinvention. The foundation of Garcia and Everton’s work together over the past ten years — propulsive, hook-oriented pop; continuous and catchy vocal harmonies — remains the basis of their songwriting in Telepathic. But here, it’s stripped down and turned up; the two have been longtime advocates for first-gen punks Wipers, Wire and The Nerves, and those influences come to the forefront, guided by a hard-hitting percussive backbone care of Rice and robust bass counterpoints from Everton. Before, they tended to drift in reverb’d-out soundscapes (and yes, Garcia still pulls off some seriously trippy Ira Kaplan-esque solos in this set) but the overall sensation in Telepathic is raw power.
Lyrically, their songs function as social critiques, biting as ever. They tackle disaffected disconnection in “Complimentary,” singing “Soon you’ll need to find a new device / for distracting you from your life.” (Watch a video of that jam below.) They also tackle the toxic weight of societal expectations from the perspective of both creative persons in specific as well as human beings in general: the set-concluding “Stay In Line” rails against conformity in its single, repeated lyric: “It takes too much time to stay within the lines when you’re outside.”
Self Check Out releases on November 2nd via Third Uncle Records — you can grab a pre-order here — and Telepathic celebrates that night at Kung Fu Necktie with friends Honey Radar, Dark Web, and the debut of Soft Crimes, the new project of Jason Killinger from Spacin’, with comedy by Andrew Jeffrey Wright. More information on the show can be found here; stream Telepathic’s Key Studio Sessions performance in full below.
Telepathic, The Key Studio Sessions