(Make Me a) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 34: The Telephone Numbers

The Telephone Numbers

The Telephone Numbers from San Francisco are a band in love with 80s powerpop, 60s folk rock and Teenage Fanclub. Earlier this year they released a single called Leviathan that is not included on their debut album. The album is called The Ballad of Doug. The project is helmed by Thomas Rubenstein with the aid of some other local musicians like Glenn Donaldson, who also helped record and mix the record. It’s out on Spanish label Meritorio as well as cassette on Paisley Shirt Records.

What Thomas Says: “I started The Telephone Numbers in late 2019 with Eli Groshelle, Charlie Ertola, Morgan Stanley and Glenn Donaldson. We played a couple shows and recorded a few songs up in Glenn’s Bolinas studio. It was a fun, productive period for me and San Francisco music was just kinda popping off all around with great bands like Cindy, April Magazine, The Umbrellas, etc.. gigging around all the time. We all know what happened in early 2020… With quarantine in effect, I was forced to rethink how I wanted this project to go. I had a lot of free time on my hands (and some stimulus cash in my pocket), so I bought some recording gear and began writing and recording the tracks that make up the majority of The Ballad of Doug. I tracked the skeletons of the songs in my apartment with my roommate Andrew Hine on drums, then sent the files around to friends with recording capabilities like Charlie, Morgan, K. Dylan Edrich and Glenn who mixed the whole thing and added some crucial riffs and harmonies. It was a super fun and enriching experience in the midst of some truly horrendous times. With the tides maybe, hopefully (please) turning and things reopening we’ve started practicing as a real band and will be playing shows in the Bay soon. Still figuring out what The Telephone Numbers is, but I’m excited to see how it evolves.”

His Mixtape:

Miracle Legion – So Good

If you’ve been in a car with me anytime in the past couple years, chances are you’ve heard me playing a Mark Mulcahy track and trying my best to sing along. He’s just the most inspiring singer to me – he packs every word with so much emotion. Mulcahy can be singing about a hitchhiking chicken (see “Let the Fireflies Fly Away”) and I’ll be entranced. The best part is he’s still making records that sound as good as ever!

2nd Grade – Shooting From the Hip

I love this newish band from Philadelphia! My buddy Glenn from the Reds, Pinks
& Purples sent me their record a few months back thinking they’d be my thing, and boy was he right! Main guy, Peter Gill seemingly has a never-ending supply of megahooks and he packages them with a seriously charming sense of humor. They’re like an American BMX Bandits. His records are a blast.

Dion – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

This is like the greatest breakup song ever written and I’ve long talked about making a compilation of the best covers of it. Dion DiMucci’s is probably my favorite. His vocal runs surprise me every time! The record this track comes from, Wonder Where I’m Bound is such a great, unheralded 60’s folk-rock album.

The Clientele – Age of Miracles

I could swoon to The Clientele for hours on end. I was going through a rough patch a few years back when this brilliant record came out, and this song was the only thing that could make me feel better. Truly beautiful lyrics and arrangement – this song was a morning ritual for months!

Curtis Mayfield – Wild and Free

What can I say about Curtis Mayfield? He’s probably the greatest thing to ever come out of this country. If I ever need an uplift, his record, Curtis! does the trick. I was driving through a beautiful, fog-adorned sunset the other evening and playing this track way too loud, and it was the best time I’d had in a while. There’s just no one better.

Rosali – If Not For Now

Wonderful songs, perfect voice and a stellar band – No Medium has already cemented itself as one of, if not my top record of the year. I’ve been a fan of Rosali since her beautiful Siltbreeze LP from a few years back and this one really proves that she’s one of the best artists going today.

Phil Lynott – Old Town

I love Phil Lynott. So much. As far as I’m concerned, he could do no wrong. As cheesy as Thin Lizzy could get, there was always so much heart and melody in Phil’s songwriting that elevated the results to greatness. This song from his second solo album shows just how good of a songwriter and singer he was. Driven by pianos and string synths, “Old Town” has ZERO guitar solos – he doesn’t need them. Definitely one of my most played songs ever. Ola!

The Ballad Of Doug is out now on Meritorio Records and Paisley Shirt Records. Look HERE for more information on The Telephone Numbers.

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