Charlie Mcalister

I’ll See You in Hell (Tape Mountain 2006)

A friend of mine asked for some Charlie Mcalister and I kept putting it off since I didn’t have a copy of his Mississippi Luau lp which is a shame since it is his best album. However, I found a copy of I’ll See You in Hell which is still pretty amazing in its own right. Charlie Mcalister has released about 70 cassettes of mangled banjo-driven tunes, southern charm and warped audio collages.  Supposedly, he listened to a lot of noise label RRR’s musical output which lends an unpredictable air to an already helter-skelter stew. Perssonally, I kind of find much of his recent output to be a noisier, eccentric kin to the Mountain Goats earliest works. Both John Darnielle and Charlie Mcalister have a knack for wordplay and an appreciation of the intimacy that can result from the hiss and gurgle of a cheap recording. Sure, tracks like “Scuzz Rag” and “I Love You/Punch Me in the Eye” lack the eloquence of Darnielle, but he more than compensates with sheer gusto and a willingness to muddy the waters. Some of his prettier moments even remind me of Roky Erickson’s acoustic work or Daniel Johnston at times, but this is something far more chaotic and stream of consciousness. If anyone could send a link to other Mcalister recordings or find a place where I can find his lps, please send word to

Magic Hour

Will They Turn You on or Will They Turn on You (Twisted Village 1995)

I’ve already penned some flowery words about Wayne Rogers and Kite Biggar’s work on Crystallized Movements’ Revelations From Pandemonium. I’ve always been a sucker for guitar virtuosos, especially when they unreel such intricate, but unhinged riffs like Wayne Rogers does on his solo and group efforts. However, this fellow finds it difficult to repeatedly visit much of the albums on Twisted Village because they can be pretty draining. How often can one listed to Wormdoom before you batter your musical palate. Sometimes we need a bit of a sorbet between the ears to cleanse ourselves between epic bouts of feedback and pyrotechnics.

When you look at the Twisted Village catalogue, I always found Magic Hour’s music to be that gentle, but challenging palate cleanser amidst the racket and din. Will They Turn You On is their best effort as it sees the band overcoming the growing pains of their debut No Excess is Absurd. Their debut is pretty damn great, but the mix of Rogers and Biggar with Galaxie 500’s rhythm section, Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang never fully congealed. That is no insult, but Damon and Naomi were always sort of the eye while Rogers and Biggar were the storm and the two never intersected for me. Will They Turn You On works best because it includes their most concise statements of psych-pop on “Something Else” and “Jonathan and Charles” as well as “Passing Words” a twenty-minute jam that fully reconciles the Velvet Underground thumping of the rhythm section with the wild impulses of the guitarists. It provides accessible excess and has a sense of pacing and excellent songwriting to ground the thunder and lightning. It’s rare to find albums that satisfy my sweet tooth and desire for more damaged sounds, so it’s no surprise that this album always finds it way back onto my stereo.