The Televangelist And The Architect – Expecting Nothing Out Of Everything

Cat. No.: SA-992
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Format: CD

Purchase: Undetected PlagiarismCD Baby, Amazon, ITunes

Tracklist (click on track to stream audio):

  1. Leaving Where We Left Off
  2. Black Lies
  3. Within Reality
  4. The Constant State
  5. A Centered Self (No. 2)
  6. The Years Abroad
  7. This Broken Record
  8. A Marriage Of Inconvenience
  9. We Were Disinformed
  10. Take Control

Reviews:

The Noise

Jerry Chen, the man behind The Televangelist and the Architect, has come up with another mostly winning record that helps cement his place as one of the oddest and most underappreciated songsmiths in town. Each of his records has had a different feel from the others; this one draws its inspiration from film, starting with the music itself and working its way down to every inch of the packaging, which is designed to look like a movie poster and a screen play. This album features an emphasis on strings and piano, which gives the music a more grandiose feel than Chen’s previous work. There are times when it’s a little too over-the-top, but at its best, the record sounds like something a more fucked-up Bright Eyes or Cursive would make if they didn’t care at all about attracting sensitive girls.

– Kevin Finn

Babysue

The third full-length release from The Televangelist And The Architect. This band is the project created by Jerry Chen…a young man who seems to approach music from his own unique perspective. Chen spent more than three years recording Expecting Nothing Out of Everything…and the process ended up being so intense and time-consuming that he let his band disintegrate and he stopped playing live (but note that with the release of this album he is hoping to return to live performances sometime in the near future). So…where does this album fit in out there in the real world…? Actually…it doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere because the overall vibe and sound of the songs is peculiar and different. Although traditional pop instruments are utilized, Chen is surprisingly creative with the arrangements. And the songs themselves–while generally pop in nature–are by no means standard and predictable. We can’t really compare this to any other specific artist or band because it seems to exist squarely on its own merits. If you’re looking for an instant fix, this probably isn’t it. But if you’re looking for an album that will be more and more interesting over the course of ten, twenty, or thirty spins…then you may just end up falling in love with this album (like we did). Compelling and unusual music…and the artwork is totally killer. TOP PICK.

Performer Magazine

Often times we find ourselves stressed out after a long day, and it’s nice to just relax and allow yourself a few good moments to rest and let life rush past you as you live in the now. The Televangelist and The Architect must have had this in mind when they recorded their album There’s A Song In There Somewhere because it may as well be the soundtrack to your moment of rest and reflection.

The album opens with “…in the Blizzard” which begins with a piano intro with soft vocals, soon followed by the accompaniment of female vocals that lace the track with grace. The verses turn into a piano bridge that make it all the more satisfying to listen to, just for the sake of listening.

The next three songs all revolve around acoustic guitar, with aid from drums in the first two, and all are heartfelt as the lyrics feel as though they mean something and are coming from somewhere very special. “…by the Pond” feels especially anecdotal and personal, making it a stand-out track of the entire album.

Most of the album feels very downtrodden instrumentally. The closing title track has a very bouncy piano to it and a nostalgic feeling that takes the listener back through the entire album, almost as though they are re-living it, fading out into the distance of what is to come and what is remembered. There’s A Song In There Somewhere is an ambient album that allows you to think and truly live through the music, not feeling rushed or pushed into a certain sound but rather just feeling it naturally.

– Max Specht
Performer Magazine
June, 2009

Delusions Of Adequacy

Let’s rewind. The year is 2003 — six years ago, give or take — and a Berkeley, Ca. band by the name of Grand Unified Theory has just released its debut on the indie label Undetected Plagiarism.

The self-titled record’s 10 songs are emotive and engaging, and they display a well defined understanding of quiet-loud/soft-hard dynamics. They are guitar driven pieces that define a band, to borrow a quote from these pages, that is “too loose and frayed around the edges to be claimed under the ever-popular banner of emo, yet their songs have a calculated dissonance to them that makes them too complicated to be written off only as some post-Pavement collegiate indie act.” The songwriter behind the group is Jerry Chen and, on Grand Unified Theory, he wears several hats, playing guitar, bass and synth. He also sings, his voice light and vulnerable and somehow defining.

But that was then. Back to 2009. Chen has left Berkeley and is now recording under the moniker The Televangelist and The Architect in a basement in Cambridge, Mass. (One could trace Chen’s postgraduate years – he’s now a doctoral student at MIT, according to press clippings – through liner notes.) The sound is much different. Gone is the thunder that occasionally rumbled below the surface of things, the loosely woven indie rock that depended on the chemistry of a full band. On There’s A Song In There Somewhere, a six-song EP out Feb. 26 on Undetected Plagiarism, the songs are folksier, the arrangements often built around a single acoustic guitar or piano and a voice or two. The songs might lack the punch of Grand Unified Theory (or even earlier outings by The Televangelist and The Architect) but, despite being stripped a little more bare, Chen’s work does not lack emotion.

Some of the sound of the new recording might be a function of its birth. The songs were recorded, between albums, with thoughts of a collaboration in mind. Once that idea was abandoned, Chen avoided studio flourishes and instead kept the songs in a basic form. “While I always do my own tracking in my basement studio, this was the first time I attempted to mix my own recordings for the sake of learning how to do it,” Chen writes. “With that in mind, I deliberately kept the production simple and the instrumentation sparse to avoid getting in over my head.”

Compared to 2006’s Diaries of the Intelligentsia or 2004’s The Mass Exodus from California, There’s A Song In There Somewhere can feel like a solitary affair. There’s the lonely shuffle of an acoustic guitar here (“A Work In Progress”), a moody bit of piano (“The Letters”) or somber bit of nostalgia (the title track) there. The best songs on this short disc seem to build around the basics, as on the engaging “The Scene of The Crime,” where Chen gathers some momentum around little more than an acoustic guitar and a trembling voice. (“Don’t let me, please/ as my hands wrapped ‘round your neck/ and I squeeze too hard/ I hold for too long/ Now you’re lifeless forever in my arms.”)

There’s only one bump in the road. On the comparatively ornate “… In The Blizzard,” contributor Alyssa Barbour offers a female counterpart to Chen. Her voice is fragile and delicate enough but the arrangement doesn’t work; their voices end up overlapping to the point where the song sounds like a muted kind of argument instead of a give-and-take between male and female leads.

Elsewhere, The Televangelist and The Architect aims high and hits the mark. “A Work In Progress” starts as a simple ballad for acoustic guitar but expands with an incredible use of a string section. On the closing title track, Barbour returns, this time offering spot-on punctuation to Chen’s lead. On “…By The Pond,” the most band-centered exercise, Chen’s voice wavers and nearly cracks as he sings lines like “I know this road you’re heading down seems so very much obscure/ you were lost but I found you in my heart.” The moment — surrounded by shuffling acoustic guitars, quiet percussion and a casual bass line — is a picture-window onto the best parts of the disc, and clearly worth the gaze.

– Justin Vellucci
Delusions Of Adequacy
March 23, 2009

The Televangelist And The Architect – There’s A Song In There Somewhere

Cat. No.: SA-993
Release Date: February 26, 2009
Format: CDEP

Purchase: Undetected PlagiarismCD Baby, Amazon, ITunes

Tracklist (click on track to stream audio):

  1. ...In The Blizzard
  2. ...By The Pond
  3. A Work In Progress
  4. The Scene Of The Crime
  5. The Letters
  6. There's A Song In There Somewhere

Reviews: