Thursday, 3 September 2015

Magic Castles - Sky Sounds, album review

From the Long Grass

There’s retro rock and then there’s retro psychedelia, this latter less effective alliteratively, but just as prevalent in this resurgence of music reflecting times before.

Magic Castle from Minneapolis create psychedelic dream pop and folk that has echoes of the 60s/70s but also the 80s/90s of similar reflectors Jesus Jones and The Stone Roses. Give-aways are, for example, in the flute playing on third track Dragonfly, leading into the sweet and gentle harmonies of the melody.  Opener Trembling Hands is even more lush in its West Coast harmonising, and fourth Silent continues the soft vocal focus, the singing planted in the background, like a floral set-piece producing colour from a bed of long grass.

And like that lawn with rooted flowers, musical movement and fragrance are carried on a light breeze – there are no thunderous storms to let loose, Rebecca’s Wild a prime example of such gentleness as a song and the antithesis of a title. White Stone arouses itself with some fuzz and more ostensible psychedelic sounds in the other guitar work, but this too is framed by harmony rather than frenzy, and there is at times a sense of The Moody Blues in its relatively louder moments.

The longest track at eight minutes is Mole People, and this embraces the underground theme with more atmospheric rather than elaborate guitar playing, the sustained wails merging with 60s organ swirls, though it does also rise to a full-ish psychedelic swirl near its end. 

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