What’s a Telenovela?

When I give you my money / I wanna hear you say what I want you to / And act like you mean it baby / or I won’t believe you.
Telenovela Star – Le Plum Deux

music review

I was not paid to write this review. It might seem that way because it’s glowing, but the truth is I really dig this record and I think you will, too. Now, most local bands I find intriguing see me at virtually every show they perform. Not so Telenovela Star. In the two years of their present incarnation, I’ve seen them twice; once at their debut in the trash can that is the Sibera club’s basement and once this past January at The Delancey, a wonderful club that also just happens to be in a basement.

Four years ago, when you could still enjoy a musical revue and a cigarette at the same time, I caught the previous iteration of the band, Telenovela. At the time the trio was two scruffy dudes on guitar and drums, and a chick with her hair in her face on bass. By the time I grabbed a friend for that Siberia show, two years had passed, they’d tacked “Star” onto their name and dropped the dudes. Here now was Telenovela Star with bassist and vocalist Hanna Klein, Nikkie McLeod beating the skins, and Maggie Argyros on guitar and vocals.

This past January, with a free Saturday in my pocket and braving arctic temperatures, I caught their Delancey show. There, one year after its release and directly from the band I received my first hard copy of their music: The Telenovela Star EP. Since then those tracks have accompanied me everywhere I go. I’ll tell you why.

Their vocal stylings aren’t spectacular and they’re not a flashy ensemble with themed outfits at every show or musicians who spout some bullshit concept when asked about their music. But, Telenovela Star is the epitome of “band.” Each member is a talent in their own right. No, they’re not virtuosi, but they are incredibly good. Few groups, live or recorded, possess their ability to play together, to sound like one instrument with purpose.

At the same time, their songwriting and musicality enable them to showcase one another individually. They’ll give the guitar space in one song, or emphasize the bass-percussion unit in another, or blend the instruments and vocals in such a way as to highlight the best of each. In many ways, each woman as an instrumentalist takes the styles of music prevalent around them and carries those styles forward in startling directions.

Often current guitarists are boring and uninventive. With this beautiful modern history of amazing players to learn from, you still don’t often hear great melodies or a good riff. Modern rockers present neither adaptation nor ornamentation. If you want to go local and find out for yourself, just search the rock section of MySpace, or turn to your favourite major music outlet and listen to what’s popular. It’s pathetic.

Maggie is none of these things, plus she’s from my own neighbourhood of Astoria. It’s sad that technical ability would be something notable merely for its presence, but I find it truly impressive. She’s not flashy, but her style is perfect both in and out of the context of the band. Her full-on guitar lines are hard and always to the point. And another thing: distortion. She doesn’t overdo it, she does it just right. I love distortion done just right.

telenovela star

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