Strange Heaven (Swami)
One could argue that every "garage rock" band throughout history was actually nothing but a wannabe pop band that didn't have the pipes or the chops to make something wholly original. They know how to craft a hook, and they can harmonize a little, but they sure as hell ain't The Rolling Stones.
San Diego's Mrs. Magician will likely be labeled garage rock, whether they like it or not. But if garage-rock-revival bands throughout the years have proven anything—be it the garage / proto-punk hybrid of '70s Detroit, the early-'00s garage revival of The White Stripes and The Strokes or the more recent influx of lo-fi bands like Best Coast and Wavves—it's that you don't need to be skillfully brilliant to be, well, brilliant. What separates Mrs. Magician from the pack is their superb and seemingly effortless ability to make the old new again.
The songs on Strange Heaven, a fantastic album that's out digitally now and hits the streets on April 17, not only get stuck in your head but also touch you in a deeply personal way. Lyrically, the band takes on everything from stalkers ("Don't Flatter Yourself") and criminality ("Prescription Vision") to hipster life ("Actual Pain") and atheism ("There is No God"). But most of the subject matter has to do with love. The song "Dead 80's" feels like a sequel to The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," with the narrator (singer / guitarist Jacob turnbloom) being won over by a girl who says, "Fuck the world. Fuck the law. Fuck the kids." Meanwhile, the gorgeous little ballad "Heaven" is driven by the immediately recognizable beat from The Ronettes' "Be My Baby," which has become an indie-rock staple.
Anyone who's seen Mrs. Magician perform live knows how great these songs sound, but with this debut (lovingly pro-duced by Swami Records' John Reis), Mrs. Magician have proven that they're much, much more than a garage-rock band. They're a great band, period.
Mrs. Magician open for Cults and Spectrals at Belly Up tavern on Wednesday, March 21.