Compared to many of my fellow music writers who toil daily in the literary trenches, I’m still a relative newbie, having only been at this just shy of a decade. In that time, I’ve received hundreds of compact discs, many of which today enjoy new life re-purposed as beer coasters. But this week, in an optimistic sign of things to come, I was mailed my first long player vinyl disc, spinning at precisely thirty-three and one thirds rotations per minute. Yup, I just got me a genuine LP album from The Televisionaries, a Rochester, New York, post-punk / surf-a-billy trio who unfortunately share their name with another New York-based band who specialize in covering 1970s TV show themes. But no matter, The Televisionaries that I heard are no cover band.
Made up of Taylor Guerin on bass, Austin Lake on drums and Trevor Lake taking the lead on guitar and vocals, this three piece demonstrate a knowledge of the surf-rock idiom that rarely translates so convincingly to a youth-based indie fanbase. But The Televisionaries inject a healthy dose of punk sensibility to get the kiddies stage diving throughout their set.
The bulk of The Televisionaries self-titled album is made up of instrumentals. While there is no doubt that the band have boned up on all things surf and can recreate not only the notes but also the tone (by far the more elusive feat), there is only so far that can carry an album side. Granted, the Televisionaries keep the songs varied by switching up the rhythms and diving in and out of syncopation with the grace of a gazelle. But to this listener’s ears, with each new musical offering, my craving for lyrics and a melody only increases. After all, take away the lyrical content from the greatest ’60s bands and you’re left with … well … The Ventures. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself. But The Televisionaries possess the ability to take this sound, which make no mistake about it THEY HAVE MASTERED, and bring it to a whole ‘nother level. They’ve got the chops to pull it off like no other band that I can think of in this genre.
On one of the album’s rare non-instrumental tracks, The Televisionaries cover “King of The Surf,” originally recorded by The Trashmen, famous for their 1963 novelty smash hit “Surfin’ Bird” (a song recently rediscovered by a whole new generation via “Family Guy”). Though fairly faithful to the original, the boys kick it up several notches (not to mention beats-per-minute) to create two and a half minutes of pure rock & roll anarchy, worthy of The Ramones in their prime.
The Televisionaries arent reinventing any wheels with their eponymous LP, but I suspect they’re not interested in doing so. These guys are clearly armed to the teeth with an arsenal of Dick Dale-inspired licks that should last them well into the next decade. If you like your music fast, greasy and without a lot of pesky words getting in the way of a good party record, then The Televisionaries are the band for you!