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neumu
Thursday, July 24, 2014 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive



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The Magic Numbers
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The Magic Numbers
Capitol
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If only we could all face our troubles with such grace. Late last year, the Magic Numbers, a foursome of two British brother-and-sister twosomes, released a collection of songs about heartache that, instead of surrounding listeners with a wet blanket of self-pity, lets the sun shine in. The band claims the Mamas and the Papas as an influence; this is evident not only in their earthy mix of guitars and harmonizing, but also in their photos. Three of them have long, center-parted hippie hair, and they all have big, round smiling faces. Refreshing, actually, to see a band not striking scowling poses in peg-leg pants and black eyeliner. The comparisons to the Mamas and the Papas are ultimately weak; there's a lot of blues mixed in with the folky pop, and traces of '80s British band Prefab Sprout, who also spun their troubles into melodic gold full of boy/girl harmonizing.

Since first listening to this disc, I've been walking around with glum phrases like, "Looks like it all went wrong/ What am I to do?" and "I had it all, but I never thought I did," running through my head — but they come accompanied with a feeling of glee. This is the magic of the Magic Numbers. I've always been in awe of the way British bands can spit out unabashedly catchy tunes while maintaining sincerity and integrity. There are a lot of bands out there — or over here — that get choked up, either trying to counter a hook with some more muscular chops or letting their emotions run amok. The Magic Numbers have found the path between the two excesses, sometimes letting their guitar meanderings carry the tune, and then sometimes stripping away extra sounds so that the voices shine, even as they whine.

"The Mule," especially, showcases the band's ability to turn a grim scenario — or a line like, "I'm a no-good, used-up, bruised and fucked-up boy/ Who gets beat up just by looking at you" — into a rollicking resolution: "One more drink and I'll be fine/ One more girl to take you off my mind."

The disc's first two tracks are the most effervescent. "Morning's Eleven" is actually two songs masquerading as one. It starts as a banjo-strumming, toe-thumping good time, complete with lyrics about being in denial. But then the girls' voices start aahh-ing, the tempo slows and lead singer Romeo Stodart admits that in the morning all the feelings are severed. Stodart's voice fills with emotion and he offers up a Motown-worthy mea culpa. "Forever Lost" was the disc's first single. It's Magic Numbers magic: bouncy and joyful on top, but with contrasting emotions and harmonizing voices eating away at the froth.

"Love's a Game" summons the memory of Prefab Sprout and other '80s suave pop bands (Aztec Camera, the Style Council), and perhaps even winks at them when, in the chorus, Michele Stodart sings, "Swear I know this much is true." I sang that same line along with Spandau Ballet about 20 years ago.

Romeo Stodart sings almost all alone on the final track, "Hymn to Her." A strumming guitar and tinkling keyboard quietly carry him through his resolution to feel again, "love or loathe." At the moment the song threatens to become maudlin, the rest of the band kicks up the tempo. And they all together sing: "I've been hurt before but all the scars have rearranged." Would that we could all face our troubles with such grace.


by Lori Miller Barrett




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