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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Majik - (Black Album)

Name: The Majik
Album: S/T [black album]
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave, Garage Rock, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Oingo Boingo, Devo, Sugarplastics, Cars, Talking Heads, Nick Glider, Postelles, Futureheads
"One-Word" Review: controlled-urgent-power-wave
Based Out Of: South Jersey (Label = Clementon)
Label: Stormy Records
 s/t [black album] - Cover & Record
s/t [black album]- Back & Record
The Majik [black album] (1980)

  1. I Don't Need You To Tell Me So 2:52
  2. She's Always Looking 3:14
  3. Where is the Magic 2:42
  4. I Just Want to Be Excited 4:00
  5. On the Fringe 4:22/
  6. I Really Love You 2:32
  7. How I (Want to Touch You) 3:53
  8. Love Letters on Bridges 4:26
  9. It's The Future 2:57
  10. The Sound 3:37
Album Rating (1-10): 9.5

Members & Other Bands:
Art Devlin - Vox, Piano (Versylus)
John Leper - Drums, Vox
Rich Rankin - Guitar, Vox
Hoppy Riddle - Bass, Vox
Gene Leone - Engineer
Clark Milioti - Asst. Engineer
Garry Milioti - Asst Engineer
Jack Skinner - Mastering
Katherine E Cogan - Cover Photo

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. But my best educated guess, from the looks of the cover, that this will be a classic rock / psych garage record. The font, the negative photo on the back, the wood cut print-style photo on the front all predict a guitar heavy sound, maybe reaching prog territory. I got this in a buy in bulk bin at a record show a few years back, so from there it could be anything in the rock relm.

Album Review: So it turns out that this is the second a brief two album catalogue for these guys. The first one was more along typical classic rock vein, but this was trying to cash in on the current new wave sound of the time. I think they did it very well, and I love the opening single. This is the sort of record that I shoot for when buying records from 78-82. This album would have been a 10 if they’d let loose of their restraint on at least one of the songs and just let chaos take control.

“I Don't Need You to Tell Me So” starts off with a power pop guitar hook, reminding me immediately of Nick Glider. But the vocals are more much more fluid and wacky. The song is made up of four or five catchy parts strung together seamlessly with new wave glue. There is a confidence in the song, but the urgency is reserved, and the song if playful and bouncy. The one bridge that leads into the power chorus sounds a lot like The Sugarplastic.
“She's Always Looking” jumps right into the fray with a speedy little vocal intro that finds footing after a few chords. This song feels like it could have been produced slightly differently would be a pop song for Devo right before it heads into the chorus. This toe tapping secondary track has some nice chord pauses and changes, and is another controlled energetic new wave number with power pop hooks, and some nice lead guitar flourishes.
“Where is the Magic” has an echo chambered guitar start off the track, with a huge evil undertone. The revolving power pop hook at the base of the song allows for the vocals to roll along an ever-changing tonal landscape. I often think the chorus is “Where is the Matinee” rather than “Magic.” As the song progress, the vocals deliver the singer out of the evil guitar sound, and they end up sounding rather bright by the end.
“I Just Want to Be Excited” is a fantastic stomping march through Clash like song structure. The melody that follows the chorus is familiar, like it was used by another new wave hit (British in nature), but I can’t pinpoint it. The echoing guitar comes back again for a heavy hook. Although the song is a little one dimensional, it does that dimension very very well. The guitar solo in the song does not quite have the speed or evil carnival nature of Oingo Boingo, but it gets pretty close to Bartek’s guitar work.
“On the Fringe” brings more carnival elements into the song with a carousel synthesizer played very sparkly, and the guitar sound brings the band even closer to Oingo Boingo’s creepy vibe. The song is continuously building, and it comes to the climatic point in its robotic chorus. The song is more of an eerie, repetitive atmospheric filler track than any structured pop song, but it is one of the best songs on the album. The Talking Heads like bass line carries the song through the song, and is only stripped away at the very end to let the drums wind the song down.

“I Really Love You” has a superbly catchy melody that sounds just like the Postelles. The hiccup vocals translate to an honest crooning lovesick singer, and the song could easily be an 70’s AOR ballad if it has smoother production, but it is right at home here as the stirring romantic oldie.
“How I (Want to Touch You)” brings us back to a chanting, creepy song, with driving dark urgency. The bass line sounds a little surf-like, perhaps modeled after the B-52’s. But the chorus is a stomping march that is calculatedly menacing. This would be hard for people to grasp what they were seeing  if it was played live at this period in time, I would guess.
“Love Letters on Bridges” is a breathy but driving, song that feels like the verse section of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger. The chorus has more of a friendly metal caliber, as the hiccuping vocals follow the melody as a near parallel. This is probably the weekest song on the album, but it is still a pretty solid song. The song ends with a Franz Ferdinand like chant of Love Letters
“It's The Future” sounds a lot like the Futureheads at the outset, with angular chord changes and a panicked keyboard, and spitting vocals. I don’t what they would have classified this music back in 1980, as it is very unlike the majority of what was out. Its faint power chords in the background prep the background canvas for the rushed tempo of the drums, vocals and keyboards.
“The Sound” brings the album to a close with a pub rock / power pop style musically, and the vocals are sung rapidly, and build up to quite a toe tapping catchy chorus. I love the energy in this song, as the fast verse (Devo-ish) gives way to a satisfying release of energy when it gets to the chorus hook. And to prove they are a real band full of real people, they end the record with a “Thank You, Good Night!” 


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