Mrs. Magician “Bermuda”
San Diego’s noise pop band Mrs. Magician hits the bullseye on their second full-length release. Its punk filtered through 60s thru 90’s power pop, where “Phantoms” foreshadows the gleeful self loathing people have as “everything’s automatic/dogmatic/I’ve had it!” Its all set to catchy layered garage riffs that echo in your head. If Nirvana was power pop band then they’d sing “Eyes All Over Town,” its fuzz guitar riffs sped up to a bouncy beat. Lead vocalist Jacob Turnbloom’s does a great job getting to the heart of nihilism on “Tear Drops” where the ba-ba chorus undercuts the lyric “Life sucks. Tough shit.” His sound and style reminds me of A.C. Newman (The New Pornographers) throughout the album.
There is still a glossy sweetness to the music as Jacob’s layered vocal tells you to “Just burn in hell” like a satanic Beach Boys on the song “Don’t Tell Me What to Do.” Virtually no filler on this brilliant study of contrasts, as another gem “Where’s Shelly” has the harmonies shine through revealing the evil underbelly of tropical paradise. The catchiest melody here, “No More Tears” is about going off the grid and “burying your head in the sand.” This is a brilliant album that makes my top ten list.
Bryan Estepa and The Tempe Two “Every Little Thing”
Bryan Estepa and The Tempe Two (David Keys on Bass and Russell Crawford on Drums) remains one of the best kept musical secrets down under on Every Little Thing. A combination of California and Americana roots styled pop, it starts with a few folk-styled ballads “Think of You” and “At Least You Did Not Know” easing into the the guitar pop of “Object of My Disaffection” which recalls Neil Young’s “Lotta Love” mixed with a little Fleetwood Mac.
“Sooner or Later” is another good ballad that brings to mind Paul Williams. “Don’t Hurry Baby” is a little twist on Brian Wilson, looking at the girl from the dad’s point of view and “Empty Handed” has some smartly added guitar distortion in the solo. But primarily this is Estepa at his most self-reflective in soul searching mode. A grower for sure, and definitely worth repeat listens. Fans of Paul Williams, The Jayhawks, and Elton John will enjoy this one. Highly Recommended.