Cathartic, noise-y, ass-kicking – that’s Hamilton, Ontario based Magic Shadows. Their 7″, Sunburned Mind b/w Under The Stairs is dirty, grimey garage rock woven together with wailing vocals and dark undertones. Somewhere beneath all those chugging riffs and pounding drums you’ll also find a surprisingly infectious and well crafted core that belies a healthy foundation of songwriting prowess.
Throwing on the first track, “Sunburned Mind”, it’s a quick buildup to a fever pitch and reverb laced vocals echoing out the marching orders of Rich Oddie. Magic Shadows show a remarkable ability to take something I don’t understand and make it consumable and repeatable by the listener. Recall those songs where you only know half the chorus, so you mumble through the parts you don’t know? I kind of feel that way about the entire chorus of “Sunburned Mind”. It’s incredibly catchy, but I have no clue what the words are. I’ve tried to figure them out. Frankly, it doesn’t even matter. The fuzz of those guitars creates such a wall of sound that when Oddie’s vocals are piercing through the harmony is all that matters.
“Under The Stairs” is a cocktail of fuzzy riffs, angry percussion, and a beautifully twisted lo-fi sound. If there is traditional pop sensibility to be found in Magic Shadows, “Under The Stairs” is the track where that shines through most. The regular refrain/wail lends a certain mystique and paranoia to the track, sticking with you well after it’s four minute blast has come and gone. I find myself vacillating between this track and “Sunburned Mind” for a favorite from this 7″, but at the moment I’m leaning towards “Under The Stairs”.
It’s very dense on a musical level – there’s no moment when your ears will relax – leading to this sonic thrill ride that can mess with your head a little on a late night listen. I put “Under The Stairs” on repeat for review (as I do all tracks for all reviews – including each track on an album) at about 2 AM on Saturday night. There’s not a single tempo change in this track (as far as I can tell), yet the tension of the track just builds and builds and it honestly seems like you’re driving to some dramatic conclusion. I found it very well executed.
It also disproves my point a while back – you don’t need a huge crescendo to have an epic buildup…sometimes you just need a killer rhythm and a lot of noise. Magic Shadows have both in spades.
You can stream or buy Sunburned Mind b/w Under The Stairs 7″ below, or if you’d prefer you can click through to the Magic Shadows bandcamp to pick it up.