Magik Markers


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While listening to Boss, the Magik Markers' second album for Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label, it's hard to pinpoint exactly which change is the biggest between this set of songs and albums like Feel the Crayon, I Trust My Guitar, etc., and the Markers' many CD-Rs. Actually, the fact that Boss has pieces of music that could comfortably be called "songs" might be the most radical thing about it. With the help of Lee Ranaldo as producer and occasional guitarist and glockenspiel player -- and without former bassist Leah Quimby -- on Boss the Markers strip away the most abrasive parts of their previous work, add just the right amount of melodies and structure, and somehow maintain the free-flowing, experimental heart of their music. It's not much of a stretch to say that the results are something of a revelation. Even the Magik Markers' biggest fans probably couldn't have predicted that the band would have been able to put their own spin on a more accessible sound and make such a drastic change sound so effortless, or that the husky twang of Elisa Ambrogio's singing on tracks like "Axis Mundi" would be just as compelling as the fearsome style she used before. Sonic Youth's influence pops up from time to time, especially on "Body Rot," which sounds a little like a scrappy kid sister to Goo's "Kool Thing," but the Magik Markers' new approach feels unique. The band sounds equally comfortable with sexy, bluesy swagger (the excellent "Taste"), sultry piano ballads ("Empty Bottles"), and poetic, stream-of-consciousness jams ("Last of the Lemach Line," "Circle"). If truly experimental music is about change, growth, and openness to all possibilities, then Boss is a very good example of it.

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