Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Having been right at the front leaning on the monitors since way before the band took the stage it wasn't until the floor started moving beneath reallyrather's feet that this blog realised just how full the venue had become. Yes, properly rammed and buzzing was The Barfly in London last Wednesday night with gleeful acclaim, shouted requests and audience participation a-gogo. And this in spite of the minor details of the band in question not yet having released any recordings and accumulated virtually zero press attention. So pray welcome for the shaggiest, the smiliest, the, er.. how shall we say.. cuddliest band around town right now, it's The Magic Numbers.
posted by SMc at 5:41 AM
Do a search for 'Romeo Stodart' and see how many hits you get. Go on. You won't break double figures. Try it again in six months and it'll more likely be the usual deluge. The Magic Numbers revolves around Romeo, his soft-focus but assertive presence, classy pop songs and more-interesting-than-average electric guitar playing. Harmonies are supplied by sister Michelle (bass) and Angela Gannon (glockenspiel, tambo, little handheld keyboard thing you blow through). The no-fuss drummer dude may also be Angela's brother. Together they must have been hiding away honing these smartly arranged numbers. Things like the stop-start stomping wig-out that is The Mule, the pure pop of Forever lost[?] and the marvellously soulful stuff like Which way to happy and in particular Love is a game. Doo-wop meets the Kings of Leon in Mornings eleven while I see you, you see me has a seductive creaminess. Topping the lot though is Love me like you, an exhilarating, perfectly turned guitar-pop nugget; this is what set the floor moving underfoot and sounds like a copper-bottomed hit.
So, a great night - but a one-off? The admirable Plum Promotions last night offered the chance to double check. Having taking over music booking in the unlikely environs of the reincarnated Marquee (1 Leicester Sq.), they're kicking off with a week of (mostly) free shows. First headliners? The Magic Numbers who rewarded the organizers with another full house and the punters with another great set. Romeo and Angela still finding it hard to keep a straight face, engagingly stunned at the enthusiastic reception. Totally unsurprisingly, cheque books have been waved - expect a debut release on EMI offshoot Heavenly in a month or so...
So, sometimes lush but always trim; singular pop music, fresh and contemporary but with vintage retro influences. For the Magic Numbers see also LA's finest and long-term blog heroes Rilo Kiley. Now, regardless of any act's past achievements reallyrather always expects nothing and is fully prepared for possibility of one great record to being followed by a work of utter bilge. RK's label debut Take-offs & landings was a bit all over the place but catchy and distinctive. The execution of all things was The Great Leap Forward, absorbing indie-pop, personal, punchy, pastoral. It (and the band's Omaha sojourn) brought Rilo a deal more attention, not least from record companies, and new album More adventurous appears on their own WarnerBros-sponsored Brute/Beaute Records. As ever, expectations hereabouts were neutral. Past glories irrelevant. Come on Jenny, guys, show me, prove it. And the verdict?..
..A TRIUMPH! Not total nor unalloyed but certainly a triumph in this blog's terms.
There's blood on my mouth coz I've been biting my tongue all week
Ah, Jenny Lewis, dontcha just love her? If anyone was ever in doubt More adventurous confirms that the Jenny Factor is what sets this band apart, make no mistake. The voice, the personality, those pointy, vivid lyrics; Blake's songs, though sometimes appealing, generally got in the way. In evidence, may I refer M'lud to track 4, Ripchord. Nuff said, I'm sure you'll agree , Your Honour. That apart, More adventurous is wall-to-wall Jenny: Jenny cute, Jenny caustic, Jenny confiding. Heck, Jenny exultant!
Sporting a much cleaner, more open sound than Execution.., the album shows the band continuing to inch away from straight-up indie band pop towards spiked torchy/twang anthems (tho' Portions for foxes shows they can still toss out thrillingly proficient fizzbombs if they wish). Blake's great primary colour guitar lines are happily still around but at the end of the Costello-admired Does he love you?, for instance, he's usurped in the stirring finish by orchestral strings. (The band will apparently tour with a 10-piece string section presumably courtesy of The Man.)
The fervently insistent I never is just swoonsome with early '60s/Dusty-type overtones while opener It's a hit, tho' cheekily optimistic, is another cracking addition to the already bulgin' RK canon. Elsewhere there are traces of some of the company the band have been keeping recently. The spirit of Bright Eyes hovers around the title track, a lambent slice of urban twang with some twinkling pedal steel from Mike Mogis. And A man/me/then Jim might've been a Matt Ward co-write with some classic '70s Paul Simon syncopation thrown into the mix. Accidental deth [sic] exemplifies their favoured 'bugger syntax', predominantly rhymeless lyric writing replete with pithy one-liners ('Your legs aren't taking any more requests'). Only a couple of the eleven tracks here really fail to deliver - you can work out which ones for yourself when you get it, as you're going to surely? Of course you are...
From sometime Hidden Camera and Broken Social Scenester Gentleman Reg comes news of a new album, Darby & Joan, immiment on Three Gut. Sample sounds good...
Gentleman Reg / Three Gut / It's not safe mp3
..and another bit of good news from Canada: "We've finally begun work on our third album! We hope to release it in the spring of 2005," say The Be Good Tanyas. Hip hip, etc...