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Album Review: The Electric Magpie - Begins

Album Review: The Electric Magpie - Begins

Along with a revolving cast of live musicians, San Francisco-based artists, Peter Maffei and Hunter Stroope have carved out their own rock and roll sound under the moniker, The Electric Magpie. Sharing lead vocal duties and harmonizing like it's their natural, intrinsic ability, they invented their own sound that sits between the realms of modern psychedelic folk and classic rock. After self-releasing their debut single, She Said No (To My Love) in 2012, The Magpie was snatched up by Los Angeles based label, Lolipop Records, who introduced the band to a broader Californian audience by releasing their second single, What's For Tea? in early 2013. A year later, they're finally ready to drop their debut full length album, Begins. We got our hands on The Electric Magpie's upcoming release and thought it be privy for us to share a bit about the nooks and crannies of the album.

Opening with the album's debut single, Mourning Gloria, the record immediately offers a sonic snapshot of what lies ahead within the LP. The first track seduces your ears with a driving organ, acoustic and electric guitar interplay, gorgeous feedback and the tight, effortless harmonies of Maffei and Stroope. Listen to this track with headphones, if only to hear the melodic repetitions of the lyrics, "She's always there", revolving through your headspace.

The Electric Magpie's proclaimed anthem, What's For Tea? is comfortably placed as track two. What's For Tea? is constructed with tireless riffs made to last a life-time, while being laced with warm vocals. The song reads familiar and friendly. During the heavy, distorted riffs of the next track, Airport Blues the album slightly shifts as the song is dominated by the tense dissonance of volatile guitars, but it is continuously uplifted by breezy vocals.

One of the most charming moments of Begins comes in the form of Birds in the Trees. Anchored by steady acoustic guitars, the song is powered by conversational lead vocals that are accompanied by subtle, playful and echoing backup vocals. A handful of masterful moments transform this song about birds fucking up your morning coffee into an elegant affair. After the hungry Hold On (Hannah) and the cerebral interlude that is DEAN, the record progresses onto an acoustic lullaby that is appropriately titled, Springtime Ease. Minimal percussion allows the track to float along buoyantly, withstanding the brief but erratic psychedelic meandering that sneaks into the ending.

What's For Tea? (Reprise) offers the same infectious riffs, but this time is projected through a hazy filter that sets the stage for the finale of the album. Soaring string instruments breath life into the track as an organ rings quietly while Maffai proclaims, "So long, farewell, what a time it's been. Day Is Done but our love never ends." And you believe it. Day's Done is the proper conclusion to this masterful record. It is an amalgam of rock and roll's finest moments from the initial pop-educated British invasion, to the psychedelic underground of the 1960s, 1990s and the present day.

For their first full-length offering, The Electric Magpie proves not only that they are well-versed in vintage and modern rock music, but that they have mastered a rounded, patient and distinctive sound. Begins resonates as a cohesive, collective whole. It offers a sonic experience that is much more important than a mere collection of rocking songs, and it does so without delving into sinister realms or indulging in any rock and roll truisms.

The album's official release is April 15th on Lolipop Records. - Lauren Espina

Published: March 13, 2014 |

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