Erik Blood and Magic Bullets at the Comet, Seattle | 22 January 2009
If you don’t live in Seattle, you might think all we listen to up here in the upper left hand corner of the United States is garage, grunge, and pastoral folk. Actually, the music scene offers much, much more than that, and one part of the scene that doesn’t get a lot of exposure, and really should, is all of the dream-pop and shoegaze influenced bands in this town. The Turn-Ons were one of the first bands in Seattle to really gain some attention while sounding very British. The Turn-Ons have recently gone on a short hiatus after releasing their fourth album early last year. The hiatus has given each of the band members an opportunity to record solo records (kind of like Kiss did back in the 70’s). Drummer Will Hallauer has put out two records with his band the Little Penguins, singer Travis Devries has a record in the works, and Erik Blood is releasing his first solo record imminently.
Thursday night at the Comet was something something like a pre-release show for Blood’s album. It officially hits the streets on 3 March, but he had copies available on this night. The album is called The Way We Live, and is just about perfect. If I had a ratings system it would get lots of stars. The album is a blissful mix of shoegaze, dream pop, blue-eyed soul, but above all pure pop genius. Every song on it is so immediate, incorporating stuff from the 80’s like the guitar pop of the first two Wire Train albums, shoegaze from the 90’s like Chapterhouse or the poppier side of Swervedriver and on into the 00’s nu-gaze scene like Deerhunter and Brother Kite. If you liked the more structured pop songs off the Deerhunter’s Microcastle, or the Beach Boys harmonies mixed with shoegaze of Brother Kite, this album will hit you in just the right spot. My favorite song on the record is the blue eyed soul of Better Days. Blood’s smooth croon floats over top of a beautiful sting arrangement, that turns into a bit of blue eyed shoegaze for the chorus. I like to call it soulgaze (go ahead, roll your eyes). On paper you might not think this would work, but the results will have you reaching for the repeat button. It’s the perfect end to what is nearly a perfect album.
Better Days was egregiously left off the set, but with the pop dynamite of songs like The Way We Live, To Leave America, She’s Your Everything, Broken Glass, hell any other song on the album were more than enough to pacify its conspicuous absense. I nor anyone in the Comet was disappointed from his set. His band, with two guitarists (three when Blood picks his guitar up), one of which is Corey Gutch of the Turn-Ons, ably creates a wall of sound as well as two and three part harmonies. The place was full for his set and noticeably cleared out after it, giving me hope that people in this town are slowly catching on to how great these songs are. With an album this great, let’s hope Erik Blood doesn’t remain a secret of the Pacific Northwest for much longer.
mp3: Erik Blood – Better Days (from The Way We Live)
As I said, the place kind of cleared out after Blood’s set, but it was their loss, because San Francisco’s Magic Bullets are pretty damn good themselves. If I didn’t know any better they I might accuse them of being English or Swedish, because their pop sensibilities obviously lie in countries across the Atlantic Ocean. The obvious comparison for the Magic Bullets is the Smiths but so many bands get that get comparison for either the voice or the music, but with Magic Bullets it’s both. Singer Phil Benson has a noticeable Morrissey affectation. He bounded around the room with aplomb, genuine enthusiasm and flailing arms while belting out the songs. Only once did he bound into someone, for which he sincerely apologized at the end of the song. The rest of the band are quite competent as well, with the guitars evoking an intricate jazz-like style that reminded me of, not only, of that Smiths guitarist but Max Eider (of Jazz Butcher fame). Add to that potent singer-guitarist combination, one excellent drummer, and some a handful of adoring female fans and you have yourself quite a delightful set.
The Magic Bullets have just released a four song 12 inch. Their 2007 album A Child But in Life Yet a Doctor in Love was good, but this new puts it to shame. Get the vinyl while you can, which currently is only available by actually showing up to one of their gigs. Here are the remaining ones:
Jan 24 Nick’s – Chico, CA
Jan 25 Muddy Waters – Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 26 The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
Jan 27 Soda Bar – San Diego, CA
Jan 28 Modified – Phoenix, AZ
Jan 29 Zeppelins – El Paso, TX
Jan 30 Mohawk – Austin, TX
Jan 31 VZDs – Oklahoma City, OK
mp3: Magic Bullets – The Book is Closed (from Lives Forever Romance)