Magic Castles

Magic Castles

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AllMusic Review by

The saying "it's the journey, not the destination" is one well suited for Minneapolis-based neo psych-folk band Magic Castles. In their case, the journey began in 2006 and has spanned three self-released albums, arriving at a surprising landmark in 2010 when Brian Jonestown Massacre bandleader and occasional gadfly Anton Newcombe caught wind of the band and offered to release their next record on the strength of their song "Ballad of the Golden Bird." The result is this self-titled release mostly culled from Magic Castles' previous works, which for new listeners works as an expanded introduction to the band, and for more established fans as a handy collection of favorite songs now out of print. Centered on rosy vocal harmonies, hazy guitars, and warm organ drones reminiscent of bands from the Velvet Underground to Quilt, Magic Castles' sonics effortlessly drift between conventionally structured songs and more abstract, sprawling explorations. Joining these elements with lyrics that reference birds, trolls, and other natural and fantastical objects of whimsy, the overall sound is made for getting back to nature and daydreaming. Though the songs are as short as three minutes and as long as eight, there's a pleasantly rambling quality throughout, from the shimmering freak-out vibe of "Ballad of the Golden Bird" to the Byrdsian jangle of "10,100"and the freewheeling drum circle-meets-distorted trombone jam of "Songs of the Forest." Where many of their peers fall back on production tricks or simply borrow too liberally from their influences, Magic Castles stands out from the pack for its skillful balance of recalling the acid-tinged tones of its forebears while aiming the compass at destinations unknown.

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