Magic Trick – Ruler of the Night

Rating: ★★★★½

You never really know what you’re going to get with a Tim Cohen listening experience; he’s a man of many faces, wearing various hats in Fresh and Onlys, Tim Cohen and now Magic Trick.  After the first few listens to Ruler of the Night (Hardly Art), you can clearly see that he’s put aside that psych-pop hat, just for a moment, crafting something truly remarkable that won’t leave your record player for days or even weeks.

If “Ruler of the Night” is going to be your starting point, it’s the place that first establishes a different approach for Cohen and Magic Trick, now that the band has been solidified.  You’ll find lightly strummed guitar and an extremely warm backing vocal; the careful construction of the song demonstrates how far Tim is willing to go on this outing.  Immediately following is “Torture,” which just might have the longevity to be one of my tracks of the year.  You can see the lineage of this track, and possible connection, to Fresh and Onlys, but the melodic harmonies backing your frontman here see him pushing that sound; he even takes a stab at a soaring vocal himself, to much success.

Ruler of the Night will probably be remembered most for the variance in songwriting that Magic Trick utilizes on the effort.  “Sunny” sounds like a San Francisco group taking a stab at writing a Magnetic Fields song, but perhaps that’s just the guitar sound, or the backing vocals.  The mood of the song resonates with the title, but it’s juxtaposition to the dark ballad “Next to Nothing” gives you reason to make sure your listening experience revolves around the completed record.  While similarities exist overall, each song creates its own bit of character, all dependent upon the accompaniment of the rest of the group.

“Same People” seemingly has its roots in Tim’s fascination with hip-hop, and it plays like a bit of electronic constructionism. Cohen’s vocals barely seem to rest atop of the beats, but it fits in with the mood of the album, especially when the tone is lightened during the chorus.  It’s a similar track to the appearance of sampled beats early with “Invisible at Midnight.”  The construction of the song definitely revolves around the electronic elements, but like the previously mentioned track, there’s an explosion of brightness that comes with the chorus.  Such delicate touches to the construction of each track demonstrate how careful the group has been in finishing off their compositions.

If anything, Ruler of the Night seems to be a statement for Tim Cohen.  While Magic Trick might be a side-project, it’s definitely one that forces everyone to take notice of the songwriter as more than just a purveyor of psych-pop.  He’s got a solidified group working with him in Magic Trick now, and together they’ve crafted a welcoming album that reveals more to your ear and heart with each careful listen.


Download:Magic Trick – Torture [MP3]

Noisy Little Rocker from No Monster Club

If you’re looking for a band that lives somewhere between Fresh and Onlys and Wavves, then let me introduce you to No Monster Club!  The group came to my attention as I was following one of my favorite smaller labels, CF Records.  They’ve recently helped this Irish trio put out a small small run of their newest LP, Dublin, and it’s a pretty solid introduction to the band.  Below you’ll find a rambunctious bit of garage pop filled with infectious hooks and a bit of disregard for hi-fi recordings.  Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get this jam out of my head.


Download:No Monster Club – Be My Bone [MP3]

Listen to the Softer Side of Tim Cohen (Magic Trick)

You all should know Tim Cohen as the lead in Fresh and Onlys, and hopefully some of you’ve heard his solo work as either Tim Cohen or Magic Trick.  This time around, he’s teamed up with some friends (members of Aisler’s Set and Kelly Stoltz band) to flesh out the line-up for Magic Trick; the group will release Ruler of the Night via Hardly Art on June 12th.  I love how you can always hear bits of Cohen’s other work slip into this sort of thing, but this effort definitely sounds like it’s being give a really mellow treatment.  Even so, it’s clear that Cohen’s always a captivating as a composer, so this is no surprise I’m loving this track.


Downlaod: Magic Trick – Torture [MP3]

White Fence – …Is Growing Faith

Rating: ★★★½☆

Tim Presley is a confusing man.  He’s got so many projects going at once you wonder if the dude even has time to come up for air.  Can’t complain though can we, as he keeps churning out the hits.  White Fence seems like the backbone for everything he does though, so its odd that Is Growing Faith comes at this point in his career. Conjecture aside, he continuously churns out albums chock full of nostalgic classic pop sounds, benefitting us all.

Immediately, one can complain that the only thing that makes this a modern album is that you can tell the production value is minimal, but that’s precisely why White Fence seems steps beyond their fellow peers in when it comes to low-budget recordings.  You can make out audible pops and crackles when you jam the vinyl, and more so when you’ve got those iPod buds in your ears.  In a way, what might seem like laziness actually brings you closer to the music itself, giving it a more natural feel.

If you make it past the first twenty seconds of a song like “Sticky Fruitman Has Faith” you’re going to get rewarded.  That California jangling guitar from the late sixties just sort of meanders in and out of the track, with a little bit of jangling boogie to make it all gel together.  Or maybe you decide to take a little bit of a trip with “A Pearl is Not a Diamond,” a track that definitely harkens back to the early days of what would later become Americana.  Personally, I get a kick out of the little stuttering guitar solo awkwardly placed in the background–put on headphones and listen closely.

One of the things that makes Tim and White Fence so interesting is that you see his influences all over the place, and I really mean all over the place.  There’s “Tumble, Lies and Honesty,” which really has to be given credit for it’s use of the water drop effect, presumably made by one flicking their finger against the chick.  Tie that odd rhythmic percussion in with the gentle strumming of the guitar and you can definitely find yourself a magical piece of pop.  Even more interesting is listening to “Stranger Things Have Happened,” which feels like an allusion to the most recent work of Tim’s other band, Darker My Love. It’s remarkably similar to the sound, even down to the most intricate bending of guitar strings.

But, to top it all off, there’s still a bit of angst inside this psychedelic world of classic rock.  “Harness” is a gritty little number, one that might draw similarities to Fresh and Onlys, but it’s got a bigger sense of urgency to it, that is until the chorus.  However, the chorus has a bit of brightness to it, something that really made this song stand out in my mind.  Perhaps you can draw similarities within the album, as a sonic connection definitely exists on the earlier Is Growing Faith track “Enthusiasm.”

Damn you Tim Presley! How can one write a review of your White Fence albums? They’re all over the place, going between americana, psychedelia and even hints of punk.  I love it all, every single minute.  In time, I have a feeling that Is Growing Faith will be a record that reveals more and more to me with each listen, but as it stands right now, I’ve had enough listens (17 to be exact) to know this thing is a rocking good time.


Download: White Fence – Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums) [MP3]

New Music From Golden Triangle

Hardly Art band Golden Triangle might quite the stir during SXSW… So we have to pay attention to them right?  Right!?  Shortly after their trip to Austin, the band is prepping a highly anticipated split 7″ with Seattle boys The Fresh & Onlys.  That tasty little vinyl is hitting stores today and features this new track from Golden Triangle “Cold Bones”.  I am getting into this tune more than anything I’ve heard from the band so far.  I’ll be buying this one.


Download: Golden Triangle – Cold Bones [MP3]

King Khan & The Shrines @ Emo’s (4/5)

Date 4/5/10
Location Emos
Doors 9pm
Tickets $15 from Ticketweb

Holy crapola, Emo’s has a pretty tasty little lineup for you music fans on Monday evening.  First up, on the outside stage, you’ve got crazy good live band King Khan & The Shrines along with The Fresh and Onlys and The Strange Boys.  Then inside you’ve got The Wedding Present and Ringo Deathstarr.  Not too sure if you can go between the outside and inside stage for this one, but it’s worth a try.  If only it wasn’t on a Monday…


Download: King Khan & The Shrines – Torture [MP3]

New Music From Fresh & Onlys

As we eagerly await the release of their new EP August in Mind next month, San Fran band The Fresh & Onlys dropped this new track our way yesterday.  The new song “Diamond in the Dark” will appear on the bands upcoming EP out next week on Captured Tracks.  You like?


Download: The Fresh And Onlys – Diamond In The Dark [MP3]

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