Alabama-based family band Pine Hill Haints quietly toiled away at their own breed of ghostly hootenanny sounds, churning out records and touring ceaselessly since their inception in the late ‘90’s, developing an especially haunted take on Southern roots music that included notes of rockabilly, honky tonk, and traditional bluegrass, all filtered through an especially eerie punk lens. The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints is the band’s fourth album for legendary D.I.Y. label K Records, but one of many albums they’ve released with various labels over the years. While many of their albums fall into a similar groove of bluegrass stompers, graveyard dirges, and a slightly twisted look at old-timey music, The Magik Sounds fully investigates all of the Haints’ various sonic avenues, offering a more high definition sound and some of the more infectious tunes the band has mustered. Opening with the rumbling washtub bass and singing saw creepiness of “Ms. Pac Man,” the band quickly sets the tone, offering a late-night serenade to the loneliness of an antiquated video game in the form of a laid-back chord progression that Jamie Barrier models after Buddy Holly's croon. Moments later the band is bounding into the accordion-driven country punk of “Galaxy Buffalo” before sidetracking into the skeleton swing of “Rattle Them Bones.” Frantic brushwork makes a single snare drum sound like a full drum kit, especially on quicker tracks like “Can I Have Your Board” or the blisteringly melodic album highlight “Scarlet Fever,” a high and lonesome bluegrass romp peppered with pleasantly squeaky dual violins. Even with a 14-song track listing, the album maintains a crackling energy throughout and the sounds shift around too quickly for there to be any filler lurking in the shadows as the songs burn on. With The Magik Sounds, we can hear the years spent on the road by the long struggling Pine Hill Haints. For a band so deep into their craft and still not quite a household name, there could be no better starting point for a new lister to fall under their mysterious and lasting spell.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas