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Telegraph Melts

The cello has gotten a bad rap. For years, it was the awkward instrument that shy, nerdy kids lugged around to orchestra class: not quite as portable as the violin, not quite as bad-ass as the double bass. Recently, however, as high school nerds have formed indie rock bands and traded up for more fashionable glasses, the cello has finally been getting its due. From Will Oldham to Rachel's to Godspeed You Black Emperor! to Lullaby for the Working Class, bands have been incorporating the cello's darkly beautiful sound into countrified, neoclassical, cinematic compositions.

Arlington, Virginia's Telegraph Melts harnesses the cello's long-ignored power in a different, highly effective way: classically trained cellist Amy Domingues amplifies her instrument and, rather than burying it deep in a string section, pairs it only with Bob Massey's crisp, shimmering guitar. The occasional addition of drums (courtesy of Faraquet's Devin Ocampo) rounds and deepens the sound, but it is the subtle, lively interplay between the cello and guitar that make Telegraph Melts' music so evocative, lively, and beautiful.

The two featured songs are both from their debut album, Ilium. "Septembrist" is as bittersweet as fall: Domingues both bows and plucks her cello, eliciting sounds that are by turns melancholy and haunting, light and invigorating, while Massey both augments and echoes her melodies with his guitar. "Cantus for Theodore N" is waves of heat radiating off black asphalt, a long lonely drive across unfamiliar terrain. The crunchy guitar makes a lonely statement; joined by the cello's mournful agreement, it erupts into a cataclysmic burst before settling into a rhythmic noise pop melody.