The Magic Magicians 

s/t

Jeez, don't these indie rock wunderkinder get enough chances to vent their angst without resorting to that now-obligatory animal, the Side Project? The Magic Magicians are one such beast, a duo consisting of singer and instrumentalist John Atkins (764-HERO) and drummer Joe Plummer (Black Heart Procession), whose self-titled second platter recalls somewhat the gloriously unprocessed clamor of the Class of 1980: Hüsker Dü, Gang of Four, the Mekons.

There are some interesting, way-cool songs here: "West Coast Harbor" has a neat-o fractured melody, Captain-Beefheart-meets-power-pop-meets-free-jazz thing goin' on, especially with its cool spidery, spaghetti-Western guitar figure. And the brittle folky rant "Mañana" sounds like a lost track from '60s rock icons the Godz (who, by the way, perfected rock 'n' roll primitivism many years before it became hip).

Alas, what pulls this album down a rung or two are the somewhat clichéd, raspy, inharmonious vocals, the kind that have that earnest quality of semi-tuneless petulance to convince the listener of the sincere depth of their angst, and how these guys aren't gonna sell out to a major label by singing too well, no indeed. If you butter your daily bread with the butter of pointed anxiety, add the Magic Magicians to your shopping list; older listeners who are leery/weary of Grouch Rock are advised to proceed with caution.

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