Magnolia Summer

Lines from the Frame

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"Easygoing" may sometimes be a pejorative when it comes to rock & roll, but there are bands that make it a positive by combining it with both just enough bite on the one hand and a sense of actually letting the good times roll on the other. Thus the Chris Grabau-led rotating collective Magnolia Summer, a band that's clearly out to embrace a perfect Dazed and Confused style of AM radio rock meant to sound good on slightly trashed speakers in a slightly trashed car, while allowing for a general sonic feel that seems a little more indie 1990s than pre-punk 1970s. (Not for nothing does the band thank a group like the Bottle Rockets under "Further Listening," given that the Rockets' John Horton is a member.) With the opening "Like Setting Suns" setting the tone thanks to immediately catchy riffs and harmonies, Magnolia Summer bring in some variations to the approach equally well on their third album -- bandmember Kevin Buckley only appears directly on about half the songs but his performances on violin and other instruments add a gentle elegance to songs like the slow-burn anthem "Diminished Returns." Other highlights include the combination of pedal steel guitar and soft male/female harmonies on "Birds Without a Wire" (female vocals courtesy of Kelly Kneiser from Glossary, an inspired guest turn further helped by the song's nice turn on the in-love-on-the-road-going-nowhere trope) and the penultimate song, "Pulling Phase to Ground," with the album's best instrumental break by a mile, inspiring and epic. Though the album has a share of numbers that are pleasant enough without being striking, Lines from the Frame is still a good scratch-an-itch album for a certain style of rock that will always be around in one form or another.

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