Toward the end of summer, Telegraph Canyon frontman Chris Johnson will begin work on a project with Mike Sempert from San Francisco’s Birds & Batteries, a band with which Telegraph has played several shows. Johnson imagines the project –– tentatively titled Pelicanstate, in reference to the state bird of his home state of Louisiana –– as “a little more electronic” than what either Telegraph or B&B normally produce.
“It’ll be a lot more hook-y, not with shit lyrics, though,” he said. “I’m not jumping on some crazy pop train, but I do like a lot of pop music.” Johnson likens Pelicanstate to MGMT and Postal Service, two major bands whose music is synth-inflected and buoyed by heavy, occasionally toe-tapping beats. Some structural elements of the Pelicanstate sessions may end up in Telegraph Canyon songs –– though the Fort Worth septet has just returned home from one (European) tour and is about to embark on another (short stateside) tour, they have been doing some songwriting. By August, Johnson hopes to be able to devote his undivided attention to Pelicanstate, especially since he and Sempert will have a little spare time at their disposal. “We’ve been passing around ideas for some time now,” Johnson said. “If it’s not a big money drain to be able to do it, then why not?” Johnson intends to record the project in New Orleans. “Why not get a place there for five, six hundred bucks a month,” he said. “It’s dirt cheap. It’s a beautiful city, and studio time costs five or six hundred bucks a day. We can go down there for a month and hang out.” Sempert has been doing a lot of production work recently, mainly remixes of existing songs. “I can’t think of a better idea,” Johnson said. “I’ve been a huge fan of their band for a long time.” Johnson is quick to point out that he’s not about to leave Telegraph or take full credit for Pelicanstate. “I don’t have any big agenda,” he said. “I just wanna make music and travel with my friends, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m happy.” Catch Johnson on Fri., June 11, at McDavid Studio downtown (301 E. 5th St., 817-212-4280). Telegraph Canyon’s next local show is on Wed., July 14, at Casa Mañana with Dawes.
There’s a lot of decent hip-hop in town, but most of it has that artificial, ProTools-y feel. Rarely do you come across something as finely produced and arranged as The Entourage by Nice Major, a Texas rapper on Fort Worth-based Elete Records. And since he’s giving away his music –– here –– I’m almost overwhelmed by the compulsion to go back to that 7-Eleven on the North Side where I recently bought a local rapper’s disc o’ crap-rap for $10 and backhand him. Nice Major’s beats and melodies are always inventive and radio-friendly, with little hooks and R&B-ish sonic quotes popping up here and there, and his flow is natural though not always full of mind-melting poetry. However, he boasts and toasts almost as often as he waxes philosophical about friendship, family, and love. File Nice Major somewhere between Fabolous and Nas. Odd, to be sure, but delightfully apt.
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