CHINESE TELEPHONES: Democracy: 2004-2008: CD

Interlace this review with The Ergs! Hindsight Is 20/20 review. Perhaps since I didn’t get to see the Chinese Telephones often, and the times that I did were special, it’s hard for me to take that another “new” band that I put on the top shelf of DIY torch bearers is calling it quits. An incomplete way to describe the band is that they were the fibrous tissue connecting Screeching Weasel to the Potential Johns: a pop punk sensibility, perfectly “imperfect” recordings, hooked up to a biting, buzzing energy of a band that refused to print its lyrics. And, like The Ergs!, the Chinese Telephones were able to go into the then-empty pop punk cauldron and reconstituted it into a bubbling, wicked mass of sonic potions by knowing what to keep, knowing what unexpected ingredients to add, and what needed to evaporate into the past. So, in the end, the Chinese Telephones were and weren’t pop punk. What they were was an honest, memorable step into larger shoes that are just sitting there, waiting for you to try them on so you can start dancing or use them as running shoes to jog into a slightly better mood. This collection of fifteen songs is a collection of all-previously-vinyl releases (7”s and splits). It’s not their whole kit and caboodle, but it does the job. Justin, please start a new band soon.

 –todd (Sandwich Man)