The Corner Laughers: Temescal Telegraph

Temescal Telegraph will be released June 5th on Big Stir Records. You can preorder it here.

Sometimes you play an album, and other times you enter a realm. The Corner Laughers could be described on first pass as gentle folk rock, with an undercurrent of psychedelia, but there’s a depth and complexity that stretches past what initially greets you on the surface. There’s an attitude, a spiritual core, a gossamer thread that connects A.A. Milne and Lewis Carroll to Spanky & Our Gang for afternoon tea as they forge a pact to transcend whatever curve balls life sends their way. It’s a realm where small things are an expression of something much bigger, and big things are shrunken down, like Alice enjoying that fateful cookie and proclaiming “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

I played the album several times before sitting down to write this, and the one lyric that kept coming back to me as the central message was “You never make a difference if you never try,” from “Changeling.” It’s not the only message you’ll hear on this album, but it’s the one you’ll carry away as you return to the daily adventure known as “2020.”

Big Stir Records has long been an enthusiastic advocate of The Corner Laughers. After a year and a half of producing the There Once Was A Note website and radio show, it’s become apparent that whenever they focus their paisley telescope on a specific star in the sky, it’s always worth looking through your own lens to see what magic they’ve uncovered. Music appreciation, in the broadest sense, is often conditioned to hearing a song or two by an artist, and forming an impression of their entire game plan. It’s a “given” that if you put on a Foghat album, you have approximately 30 minutes of boogie in your immediate future. The Big Stir Universe can’t be defined that way. Most music can’t be defined that way.

I can’t recall the first track I heard from The Corner Laughers, but it was a light, fanciful, playful track, and I heard it on a day when I’d immersed myself in Humble Pie and Lou Reed and other pioneers of ear-splitting volume and aggression. It was the wrong day for a first spin of their music, but knowing that the folks at Big Stir had something they were passionately compelled to bring to the stage, I knew the moment would come at a later time.

That time came with the release of the Big Stir single, “The Accepted Time.”

“Yes, I know…life means letting go, but I will hold on, just a little longer…”

Part of what’s required in order to enjoy the music and feel the message on this album is, in fact, letting go…temporarily letting go of words that have become a part of our daily vocabulary, like “social distancing.” What gives the album power and depth and resonance isn’t a denial that our current world exists…it’s an acknowledgement of it all, and a refusal to let it be the sole determining factor in the quality of our lives and the joy that we deserve.

The music is subtle, yet persistent…it’s an open invitation to that afternoon tea, and if you take the time to sideline the Monster In The Closet that we’re all dealing with and let the music calm you, restore you, fan that flickering ember of hope inside of you, then you’ll see what Big Stir saw when they chose to release this album.

I’m not going to analyze this one in detail, I’m not going to break down the lyrics and offer an academic take on “what it all means.” You’ll find out when you listen. There will be some little thought that will rise above the music and harmonies that might be the exact thing you need to hear today in order to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through our current mess.

This one is unique, it’s singular, it’s special, and it’s not something to write about, it’s something that should be heard so that you can personalize the experience and form your own impressions. I encourage you to do exactly that.