Magnus – Portable Sun

Magnus - Portable SunMagnusPortable Sun (Nefarious)

Chicago’s Magnus just may be my new favorite band, that’s not to say they’re necessarily a new band, just new to me. Despite numerous shows at many of the city’s best venues and the fact that I’ve known the bass player for over ten years, I’ve only JUST heard the band. Shame on me.

Drawing liberally, but not shamelessly, from a well of early 80s Brit Pop influences, Magnus manages to give a nod to their heroes without copping their mojo. Sure, you can hear bits and pieces of Joy Division in the vocal style, or a pinch of the Stone Roses’ Mani in the funky basslines, or a cheeky check on the angular guitar rhythms of even the Fixx, but Magnus does it in a way that brings something new to the genre. And they don’t pretend to be British. Nay, there is not a hint of fake scouse to be heard.

The opening track, “Blackout” slinks along with throbbing bass and Madchester-ish drums only to be broken up by quirky lyrics that would make Isaac Brock look up from his notebook. Dual vocals; light, fading feedback; choppy guitars…I love it.

But the shining light on this album is clearly “200 Years” (mp3), which starts off low and slow with some smokey keyboards and then slides into the funkiest bassline since “Kinky Afro.” Slightly distorted vocals (but not TOO distorted, this ain’t no Stokes rip-off) and even more blips and bleeps bring back memories of Raves I never attended. But wait, what’s this? Yes, it’s true you CAN play harmonica without it being bluesy or folky. Just ask Johnny Marr.

Summer’s upon us. You need one great album for the season. I think I just found it.

Magnus also offers mp3s of “At the edge of the sea” and “Shambles” from this album, as well as a few from previous recordings on their site.

One thought on “Magnus – Portable Sun”

  1. Awesome! Magnus is definitely an unheard-of gem. Can’t wait to sink my ears into this one!

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