Album Review

Elisa Ambrogio – The Immoralist (Drag City, 2014)

Elisa Ambrogio - The Immoralist album cover

No stream here, Drag City’s got the whole album up on Soundcloud via Impose, check it there
 

I’m admittedly a little late to the Magik Markers game (which is shameful since they’re a localish band), I’ve only been jamming them for a few years, but got hooked real quick, and am always jonesin for more (the Arbitrary Signs page helps with that), so when I heard Elisa Ambrogio, singer/guitarist for MM, was dropping her solo debut, I got pretty fuckin psyched and was hoping for more MM-tinged garagey goodness that was maybe a bit more stripped down, and that’s exactly what I got on The Immoralist, and while there’s a couple songs that sound like the could’ve come from an actual MM record, for the most part it’s like a bedroom pop daydream of MM, with Ambrogio taking charge of everything, cleaning up the fuzzed out rock a bit and showing off her soft side, layered vocals harmonizing with herself, going for the deep 60s psych pop where you can be a total fuckin weirdo and it doesn’t seem out of place in the slightest, throwing down melancholic piano ballads alongside catchy Top 40 celebrations, this is both a joyful summer slam and awkward bittersweet downer, where Ambrogio travels merrily down memory lane, and closes the record with the lyric “Nothing new would live if nothing died,” which in one short phrase encompasses the whole feeling of The Immoralist, gettin high on those shitty feelings and not letting life’s despair bog you down, and that’s basically what I strive for, so Ambrogio fucking nails it with this one and it’s just as good as, if not better than, the best MM records, just in a different way, something I’m pretty sure everyone should be and wants to be spinning basically non-stop.

Album Review

Ragana – All’s Lost (self released, 2012)


RaganaB.N.F. (self released)

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Two ladies from Washington that bring some serious fucking heaviness. Not sure if there’s a scene over there where this type of insanity is the norm and I just haven’t heard it yet, but All’s Lost is impossible to peg. They’re doing something totally original and it’s the fucking best. Some sort of black sludgy screamo garage that just melts my heart. Sweet hooks & melodies run through a fuzz filter, blistering screams, massive riffs next to atmospheric tremolo, blast beats forgone for everything but, depressing lyrics and a permeating darkness to knock it out of the park. Not really weird on a song by song basis but put together this is a wholly twisted beast. Best of all it’s cheap as shit. Digital is PWYW, tapes or CDs a mere $5, and they have some killer shirts for the same amount. I fuckin love these guys. Now just gimme some vinyl.

Album Review

Boy Without God – God Bless The Hunger (self released, 2011)


Boy Without GodOf Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men (self released)

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The sort of sound that’s not usually my bag (saxophones, song-oriented, God-y) but when it’s powerful & memorable enough that one or two years later I’m able to recognize a song I only heard once, I would be a jackass if I didn’t pay attention. A brilliantly smooth blend of new Americana, old blues, soul, new wave clean garage rock, doo-wop, jazz, and anything else he’s inspired by. Poetic lyrics sung in the most passionate deep baritone that sounds maybe a little like the dude from Crash Test Dummies, except not annoying and totally sincere. I’d say his voice is what hooks you in the beginning but it’s probably just the most noticeably unique aspect. Songs break in cathartic crescendos with angry guitar destruction & dissonant horn skronking or blissful howling & lush dreams. Lonely acoustic guitars, deft electric Neil Young sounds, flushed out strings & brass, mourning heartbreak, uplifting youthful love, straight up the catchiest fucking tunes. Endlessly listenable and hands down one of the greatest records this year.

Easily Gabriel’s most well thought out and complete sounding record I’ve heard. It’s obvious this is what he’s wanted to sound like. More people are involved on this record, both in terms of instruments & vocals (including the addition of some fantastic boy/girl harmonies) and in terms of production & mastering. The physical disc is printed by Repeat Press, the same dude who did that slick as hell High Aura’d album.