Review: Magazine, No Thyself

Could Magazine have been the biggest band in the world? Not a chance. Next question: did they want to?

When lead singer and founder Howard Devoto quit the band in 1981, he cited low album sales as the reason for his departure. Devoto was twenty-nine then, by which age he should have either succeeded in music or surrendered to the workforce. (In his native Britain, where teenagers regularly started full-time careers, he probably should have given up five or six years earlier.) Magazine did not fail, exactly, but they defined the term “cult band”: beloved by a small clutch of critics, despised by just as many, small but devoted fanbase, ignored by the larger public.

Magazine presented themselves as a connoisseur’s band; also, as pricks. They knew full well that they were smart musicians, a fact they never failed to advertise. They positioned themselves at the avant-garde, relying upon futuristic keyboards and scathing lyrical introspection where pub rock and punk demanded back-to-basics anthems. Across five albums – four studio, one live – and a handful of singles, Magazine exuded the barely-suppressed fury of over-educated twenty-somethings bashing up against the realization that the world is not, in fact, a meritocracy. They longed for mass appreciation, yet reveled in a style that was, for most listeners, nearly impossible to appreciate.

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Albany Music Review: Around the World and Back – Songs To Sleep To

Around the World and Back have been around for a few years now playing indie rock made notable by great guitar tone and skill. Their latest release is an E.P. titled “Songs To Sleep To”. As far as album titles go, this is about as straight forward as things get. This is a soothing album meant to be listened to in your bedroom. If you’ve heard the band previousl, you know that they frequently employ great dynamics to make a song. However, it’s a nice change of pace hearing a finished project with a cohesive theme. While most bands just lump together a few good songs this really feels like an album. Also, the fact that it’s an E.P. is perfect because while 40 minutes of this kind of music might get a little boring, seventeen minutes of it is perfect.

One of the first things I noticed about the record is that the band weren’t afraid to take a step back and focus on the song. No one’s overplaying on any of this and it definitely adds to the overall feel of the record. The subtle slide guitars in the background are very reminiscent of Mazzy Star and reoccur through the album. All of these songs flow together so well that when I initially tried to review these song by song it just didn’t work. Everything from the melodies, to the instruments used, tones, lyrics, and even background effects all re-occur and blend together so well that you can often transition into the next song without really noticing.

With that said, after listening a few times there are a couple stand out tracks. “@$%^” is an instrumental interlude that combines digital drums with analog instruments that will appeal to fans of Thrice’s Water E.P. The other song that really stands out is the last song “Advice”. Distant drums and airy vocal harmonies give this a haunting feeling that really makes it sound like a closing track. The slide guitar returns again acting almost as a narrator of the album to tie everything together and the guitar solo in this is one of the best written pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. It’s so subtle that you almost don’t notice how good it really is. Not to mention the tone is one of the best I’ve heard period. Guitar nerds take note, Marco Testa is the man to talk to when you want to geek out on gear.

This is an incredible E.P. that is also free. So really, there’s no reason to not be listening to this. Put it on in your bedroom, take a nap, make out with your girlfriend, smoke em if you got em, but just listen to this. Be on the lookout for a full length in early January.

The E.P. can be downloaded for free on Around the World and Backs Tumblr.

Any bands that would like to have their demo reviewed can send an e-mail to terranceconnell@gmail.com