Telegraph Hill Records | Vol. 1 (Compilation)
Family Average: 5/7
Think back to any amazing show you saw in Asbury park within the year. There is a pretty good chance that the artist you saw is on Telegraph Hill Records. Our first introduction to the label came earlier in the summer of 2018. We had the pleasure of seeing Avery Mandeville play an incredible session at yacht club. After connecting we noticed her affiliation with the label, and hoped that it would lead us to some more talented musicians. Luckily for all music lovers there is heaps more to be heard from the label.
We were fortunate enough to be served this smorgasbord. A collection of singles from a bunch of artists on the label! What treasures could lay on this Soundcloud playlist?
Listen along on Soundcloud and read on to find out:
The collection of artists under Telegraph Hill Records goes to show just how many good artists are hiding out there off the NJT in plain sight. While they’re a far cry from the names I hear all the time on the radio, I honestly prefer most of these guys over the same old same old. With a mix of high energy, groove, pop, folk, and raw, passionate lyrics...it’s quite a refreshing mix.
I loved seeing some familiar names on there from reviews past like Avery Mandeville and Levy and Oaks, but for me, it’s the badass women filtered throughout the label that stood out to me. I’d be more than pumped to stumble into a venue to discover the likes of Low Light, Natalie Farrell, or Des & The Swagmatics (“Back to Blue” really made my heart sing if that were possible). I’m not heavy into the kind of pop that Leah Vorsey is dishing with “Poison”, but I fell victim to the catchy lyrics and was quickly won over regardless.
Not to discount the boy bands, not like “boy bands” but rather bands with all boys—the energy from Airacuda and Foes of Fern was surely addicting. The Burns almost seem out of place in this group, but oh man could I see my feet dancing up a storm at one of their more country gigs.
And again, can’t end it any better than with a family favorite, Avery Mandeville. Damn if those lyrics aren’t the fucking shit in the emotional, ironic, and relatable “Encore”.
“The crowd goes wiiild” — Well Avery, that could be said for so many of these gems here at Telegraph Hill Records.
Okay bear with me. Because this is at it’s core a showcase album. I am going to try something a little weird. Instead of looking at the album as a whole. I am instead going to give little blurbs about each song. I hope you enjoy.
Lowlight - “Burkhalter”: Vocals here are incredible. The whole song was like the low down driving dream. I got some Jesus and Mary Chain vibes from it.
Des & The Swagmatics - “Back To Blue”: A swinging soulful jam. Dang two in the row with awesome vocals! I love the way they build up the sound and bring it to a complete stop. Each time they did it I found myself nodding my head when the cymbals came crashing in.
Keith Egan - “Belong”: This one was not really my cup of tea. When it kicked off I thought I was in for some strange synth-pop r&b fusion. Instead I got an okay pop song that seemed like the bass drum track had been turned all the way down.
Mayay0 Feat. Taylor Tote - “Don't Need You Anymore”: I don’t know this one felt like a kind of Katy Perry song. I am sure tons of kids will get down to this. However I am not one of those kids. Listening to this made me feel like a chaperone at a grade school dance.
Leah Voysey - “Poison”: It sure felt like poison to me. Ha, low hanging fruit but what can you do? I think the introduction of electronic instruments was a real detriment my personal enjoyment of the song. It went from what could have been a slow soulful jam to this weird collage of stock instruments. The snare drum was especially grating.
Levy and the Oaks - “On The Run”: I liked this more than everything from the previous album I heard from them. It seems like they really found their sound. My head kept bopping all around. The lyrics were creative, and at the end leave you with a bit to think about. Nice one fellas!
Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son - “Should Have Called You Up (Last Night)”: I can not say I really vibed with this one. The chorus made my mind go to music usually played in bars with a lot of old dudes sitting around. I don’t know stuff like Journey, and Bon Jovi. That stuff is just not for me.
Connor Bracken and the Mother Leeds Band - “Read On You”: This one had me bopping my head a bit. I can get down with a bluesy rock throwback. A little country even seemed to seep in through the cracks. Vocals were shouty and energetic, the perfect for screaming along to at your local Honky Tonk.
Natalie Farrell - “Mister Officer”: The lyrics in this song were kind of painful. I am never someone who appreciates when the lyrics are so on the nose. I think it was that paired with the pretty generic sounding music accompanying it that put me off the tune. It is clear the singer has a great voice. This is something hard to come by. I think it is going to be a matter of finding out something to set their sound apart from what has been done tons of times before.
Airacuda - “Scorpio Clarice”: Oh Clarice what have you done! Okay this one was alright. Not anything that got me too excited, but I can get down to it. Bluesey for sure, and I like that. Other than that a kind of middle of the road jam.
The Foes of Fern - “Lydia”: Dang ditch that weird 20 second intro, and just get right into this jam. I dug this one. It’s weird in a good way, super energetic, and polished. The drums were just kicking ass the whole time.
The Burns - “I'll Be Back”: What a lovely little jam we have here. It was honestly so refreshing to hear this song come up. It has heaps of soul. That sliding plucky guitar warms my heart.
Avery Mandeville - “Encore (Live In Asbury Park)”: Oh boy and here we go, Avery Mandeville to bring it all home! I swear I closed my eyes and I was right back in Asbury Yacht club the first night I saw her. It was a great way to bring the compilation to a close. Just a reminder of how much amazing talent is coming out of that area.
This compilation album from Telegraph Hill Records is like a tasting flight of Asbury Park’s music scene. Subscribing to no theme, no genre, it’s a mixtape of diverse and solid jams.
Lowlight - “Burkhalter”: Hello Blondie-infused vocals and ‘80s-inspired synth. I loved the ambient, tech-y arpeggio that carried it all. Sort of percolating and bubbling. Solid vocals with a great throwback vibe, it’s a real tune that had me engaged and pumped up.
Des & The Swagmatics - “Back To Blue”: Swag is right. Sorry. I cringed as I wrote that. But, wow, the vocals on this track are just lush. Full and slow, punctuated by moments of vivacious energy; it’s easy on the ears. Deliciously mellow, it had me swaying, blissfully enveloped by those melodice harmonies, crashing cymbals, and accented guitar solos. Yes. Please, and thank you.
Keith Egan - “Belong”: This is made for radio. Hello, summer Top-40. It’s bouncy, cheerful R&B/pop, but I’ve heard it ten thousand times before. Too much electronically generated sunshine. The lyrics felt contrived, the beat sounded canned. And yet, something about how catchy it is had me bobbing along with it. I get the appeal, but I shan’t be hitting play again.
Mayay0 Feat. Taylor Tote - “Don't Need You Anymore”: A good old girl-power pop-anthem. I appreciate the sentiment, but strongly dislike that canned pop track beat. You know the one. Very Fifth Harmony or Girls Aloud. I can see the dance sequences forming in my head. For the genre, it’s spot on and well done, but again, not for me. Like the above track, it feels contrived, composed of pop tropes guaranteed to be a hit.
Leah Voysey - “Poison”: I had high hopes for this one until about the 40 second mark. The emotive vocals suddenly transformed into this old school Christina / Britney / Shakira vibe. A bit cringe, honestly. However, the catchy chorus and repetition of it was cemented into my brain for a solid hour as I navigated rush hour. A pretty apt soundtrack. There’s definitely something there, but I’m never really a fan of songs that repeat the same line again and again. And again.
Levy and the Oaks - “On The Run”: I think these guys hit their niche with this track. A little bit of funk with a whole lot of pop, it’s a big old celebration complete with horns and a sing along chorus. It’s an impressive production with genuine energy. Not totally my cup of tea, but it’s a good, lively track with a cute little ending.
Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son - “Should Have Called You Up (Last Night)”: This might be a rogue comparison, but the opening instrumentals gave me a Police vibe. Albeit it, a subtle one. I really appreciated the moments of classic solo guitar, but at times it felt too drawn out. Lyrically, it became a bit repetitive, but truth be told it would be an ace track for karaoke.
Connor Bracken and the Mother Leeds Band - “Read On You”: A good, blues/classic rock influenced track that packs a punch with the vocals. Something about it had a ‘90s current running through it. I really enjoyed the call and response chorus. ‘Twas nice.
Natalie Farrell - “Mister Officer”: I was immediately drawn to the vocals on this one. However, that ripping electric guitar felt somewhat dated, I wasn’t totally sure what she was on about with the officer, and that random punctuation of sirens was a bit twee. The track as a whole felt a little erratic. Nevertheless, I’d like to see what she could vocally with just a plain old acoustic set.
Airacuda - “Scorpio Clarice”: Another bluesy/classic rock infused track. I’m sensing a pattern here, Asbury. (Do we blame Bruce?) Nothing particularly ground breaking here -- I envisioned a motorcycle road trip soundtrack. But less Easy Rider, more Wild Hogs, if you catch my drift.
The Foes of Fern - “Lydia”: A solid track with palpable energy, the gruff, screaming vocals propel it all. The lyrics are a bit of a laugh, very straightforward but still emotive. Did it give me a bit of a headache? Yes. But I could sense they were having fun and it was infectious.
The Burns - “I'll Be Back”: This tune stuck out from the pack due to its country twang. With sweet, sort of bluesy vocals, it felt downright wholesome and added a bit of dimension to the album as a whole.
Avery Mandeville - “Encore (Live In Asbury Park)”: Last but not least, Avery Mandeville. An absolute force and my absolute favorite of the compilation. Avery’s voice hooked me from the moment I saw her live, and this recording does her unique, warbling style complete justice. She deftly conveys emotion and creates a visceral experience. Waxing poetic on the music industry itself, highlighting a certain self-awareness as a performer, this song is a poignant and relatable bookend to the collection.
Props to those of you that actually read all of that. Props to NJ for doing this music thing. Props to Telegraph for amassing a solid roster of disparate and promising artists.
MOM: Because this is a compilation I figured there would be some songs i did and didn’t connect with. However I found so many of the tracks refreshingly original and well put together. I was glad to have been introduced to so many great new artists at the same time. Whether or not I was fond of the genre, the tracks were usually so well done I found myself moments in singing along. As to not leave anyone out I’ll say something briefly about each track.
Lowlight - “Burkhalter”: This track starts things off moving in the right direction. Interesting and original sound, yet something so familiar about it. Perhaps a little Blonde?
Des & The Swagmatics - “Back To Blue”: Awesome vocals and composition. There seemed to a real Lauryn Hill quality yet exuding their own style.
Keith Egan - “Belong”: This has a great flow to it and would have tremendous mass appeal. Loved the energy and dynamics of the song.
Mayay0 Feat. Taylor Tote - “Don't Need You Anymore”: All the elements of a successful pop song right here. Great arrangement and voice to match. Found myself singing along instantly.
Leah Voysey - “Poison”: Smokey smooth voice and a great musical arrangement make this an instant pop hit. A little too pop for my taste but you have to respect the work the artist has put together here.
Levy and the Oaks - “On The Run”: Although a good song, just a little to “Campy” or “showtunish” to me. It has all the elements for a solid song I just felt too over the top for me.
Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son - “Should Have Called You Up (Last Night)”: Very similar to the previous track. I almost feel like these songs create a new genre, sort of “Disney Asbury” sound. I mean this in that it has what it takes to be a good song but it sounds too “put together”.
Connor Bracken and the Mother Leeds Band - “Read On You”: This track has a cool live sound to it. Like the 2 previous songs, it can sound a little contrived, however they are all as good or better than anything I’ve heard on the radio.
Natalie Farrell - “Mister Officer”: Opens with a great guitar riff and into and then once you are hooked, keeps you along for a fun ride. I liked her voice, it’s really unique and matches well with her music.
Airacuda - “Scorpio Clarice”: Lots of energy and a real live music quality make this track a song you just don’t want to end. I loved everything this song had to offer!
The Foes of Fern - “Lydia”: The music, song and arrangement were great but the singers voice was a little rough. It kind of took away from the song. There may be other songs by this band that showcase his vocals a bit better.
The Burns - “I'll Be Back”: This took me back to Ronnie Hawkin, The Hawks and The Band. Fun Rockabilly, Rock, maybe even Bluegrass/Country. Another song with a nice live quality to it, I think they would be great to see in person.
Avery Mandeville - “Encore (Live In Asbury Park)”: Well they saved the best for last. I’ve listed to Avery before and I am glad she is here to round out this compilation. Her visual lyrics, unique voice and arrangement really lend itself to this live track.
I thoroughly enjoyed this compilation. I didn’t realize at the start these were all local artists. I look forward to hearing more from all of them, hopefully in person! Thank you Telegraph Hill for putting this together.