Magic is Tragic Mix: February 2013

Yeah, I’m lame and post more mixes than albums these days, but I’ve got an excuse this time. A flu descended upon my abode and my son, wife and I have been recycling some bad hoodoo between us for the past month. Therefore, blogging about unpopular albums fell somewhere between roll over and die and wish for a healthier tomorrow in my daily to-do list. Anyhow, this one is a bit of a sloppy mess of songs that have lightened the load during these contagious times. It falls somewhere between an ode to 90s indie-pop and its forefathers, divergent strains of reggae and library music coupled with the greatest hits of the 60s and 70s compilation that only exists in my mind. Hope you enjoy.

April March & Los Cincos-Baby Blue

New Age Steppers-Fade Away

Melody’s Echo Chamber-I Follow You

Kevin Ayers-May I

Royal Headache-Never Again

The Pastels-Nothing to be Done


Keith Hudson-Playing It Cool

The Baird Sisters-On and On

Robin Artus/Paul Kass-Alphia Micro

Harlem-Friendly Ghost

Ducktails-Hamilton Road

The Oblivians and Quintron-Live the Life

Lower Dens-Tea Lights

Flaming Lips-Hit Me Like You Did the First Time

Times New Viking-No Room to Live

Chris Darrow-Shawnee Moon

Segun Bucknor-La La La(Part One)

Fairport Convention-Million Dollar Bash

Butterglory-Back of My Hand

Guided By Voices-Non-Absorbing

Beau Brummels-Laugh, Laugh

Blawan-Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?

If you want additional updates about magicistragic and its sundry youtube uploads and random thoughts, please befriend us on facebook at magicistragic

The Delgados-Hate

January 18, 2012

The Delgados

Hate (Mantra 2002)

The Delgados kind of flew under the radar of most folks during their heyday. It’s a shame because they continuously progressed and evolved during their eight-year career into something truly special. Not only did they start their own influential record label, Chemikal Underground, which spawned the careers of Mogwai and Arab Strap, but they quietly released some of the most gorgeously bruised and bittersweet albums of the era. Between Peloton, The Great Eastern and Hate, this Scottish band recorded a trio of albums that will hopefully get the attention they deserve someday. The band was blessed with a knack for well-written odes to disappointment and despair and the tandem of vocalists Alun Woodward and Emma Pollock allowed the band to alternate between her stately and elegant singing and his more resigned and beaten tones. Ironically, as their music grew more orchestrated and gorgeous, their subject material and instrumental palette consisted solely of shades of grey. No one wins in these songs. No one finds true love. Everyone just drinks a bit too much and fixates on their flaws while pointing out the imperfections of others and how they let them down over and over again.

Hate sounds like a swan song and it probably should’ve been considering its followup Universal Audio was a shadow of what came before. There is nothing cheeky or ironic about the album title because it kind of sums up the tone of the lyrics and weary, late-night ambiance of a prickly album about the failings of the world and those who live on its accursed surface. It’s kind of odd that they aligned themselves with producer Dave Fridmann who is most famous for crafting kaleidoscopic orchestrations that are more style than substance. Best known for his work with Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips and MGMT, his work tends to be gorgeous at first glance, but as satisfying as an aesthetically pleasing confection that leaves you wanting soon after. However, his work on Hate and its predecessor The Great Eastern brings the band out of its cantankerous shell and coaxes plenty of bombast and drama to accompany the band’s predilection for delicate and dour slices of life.

Hate is as bleak as its namesake. Here you’ll find explorations of a man’s last moments before he takes his life, the embrace of the last halcyon moments before the end of a relationship and a plea for all to accept the fact that everyone’s heart harbors hateful intentions. All of this vitriol and self-loathing is couched in lush arrangements and laced with catchy choruses to mask its true intent, but this album is misanthropic to its core and all the better for it. It is a brutally honest exploration of what lurks behind our smiles and exposes the grim motivations behind our weaker moments. Hate is a walking contradiction that marries the most resplendent and ostentatious arrangements married to the most calamitous and desolate worldview and this conflict is the the source of its staying power and gravitas.


Revelater (Elektra 1996)

The major label frenzy to sign anyone within sniffing distance of your Nirvanas and Sonic Youths resulted in greater exposure for some and ruin for others. Were advertisements in shitty rags, MTV airplay and product placement in the rural malls really going to make Jennyanykind, Scrawl, Jesus Lizard and Jawbox more palatable to most folks? Hell, most of these bands weren’t even palatable to me by this point.

I have no clue why a major label like Elektra decided to sign a band that was enamored by Jesus Christ, Jerry Garcia, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Howling Wolf, Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd and market it as an indie-rock album. Sure, their work had a raw, punky edge at times and their earliest work was released by the No. 6 label(Beme Seed, Crystallized Movements, Luna, Nada Surf, etc), but this was surely a big ass square block in a teensy-weensy round hole. It’s a shame since Revelater cuts the fat from their meandering jams and rants which results in bizarre southern rock songs about the apocalypse, humility in the face of god’s power, the dangers of a sinful life and repentance.

This isn’t a shtick–No sight of high pitched whines and tree costumes ala Danielson. Michael Holland’s lyrics are earnest explorations of his own struggles with faith and the misdeeds of his past. He comes off as troubled and angry on half of the tracks while the other half play loose and fancy free with light-hearted hippie psych that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early 70s Dead record. I’m more interested in the angry, conflicted side of Holland that searches for meaning in the universe in a three-minute pop song on his major label debut. What were they thinking? It was commercial suicide and sit kind of sunk the band for good. Yes, they released many more albums, but they sort of blew their cosmic, soul searching load on this one.

Revelater got no respect from anyone. Its been dismissed by hipsters, hippies and christian rockers alike. However, I believe it may be one of the most underrated albums to result from the major label feeding frenzy of the 90s. Revelater is a fried, almost paranoid ode to the power of a vengeful god masquerading as an indie-rock album. Love it to death and like most of this band’s work. i’ll be posting more this week.