‘The Magic Gang’ – Album Review

On 16th March 2018, The Magic Gang released their long-awaited self-titled album, gratifying their fans with an incorporation of old and new, heavy and dreamy but an all-round beautifully constructed record.

The Magic Gang are currently number 15 in the UK album charts.

We are super enthusiastic about The Magic Gang because they are openly supportive of fighting against sexual assault at gigs. It is extremely important that this is recognised by musicians from all genres, orientations, styles and so forth. By openly supporting Girls Against, The Magic Gang are supporting the fact that intersectional feminism is relevant, appropriate and (almost) as cool as their stage presence when performing their bangers live!

As I strolled down Mount Street in Liverpool with Your Love playing through my headphones, I could have easily been on the way to the Cavern in the sixties.

To me, the album feels like it was made for live performance. Hearing the re-worked versions of All This Way and Jasmine, for example, creates a desire for the atmosphere at a Magic Gang gig because of the memories that these songs have brought fans over the past few years. By including these in the album, the record still has a feel of the bands’ hard work and determination that has lead them to this point in their career – they have been solely committed to their music and it has most definitely payed off. Although, the track list does seem like a trip through the eras because their music could easily fit into the plethora of influential styles and bands that have crafted indie music of today.

I wanted to focus on some of the newer tracks for a deeper analysis – starting with an energetic opening to the album – Oh, Saki. The Motown drums and melodic bass line give an upbeat vibe to the song, leading to an interesting guitar solo to give the track a flare. However, this compliments the beautiful harmony in the second half of the song.

This is also evident in Caroline, where harmonies and grungy guitars blend seamlessly, producing yet another catchy chorus with brilliant vocal arrangement. The bass locks in with the bass drum in the verse which creates the solid beat which we can’t help aimlessly bopping to…

A personal favourite, Take Care has Gus on lead vocals. The Abbey Road piano sound with a reminiscent start leads to the modernised feel of the drum sound. The bass development through the song builds it perfectly, and the well-written lyrics including “take good care of yourself” compliment the new dynamic to the song, whilst ending where it started on piano and vocals.

Finally, Bruises has an interesting vocal sound that compliments the chord progression in the song. There is some great lead guitar throughout, which is reminiscent of Oasis.

The Magic Gang have an incredible summer lined up, playing at various festivals such as Reading and Leeds and TRNSMT Festival. They have also just finished their UK tour; you can find some snaps from supporters on our Instagram @girls.against – keep sending us pictures!

Ultimately, this debut album has impressed, inspired and enriched the music scene. Not only is it an easy listen, but an intricately crafted piece that deserves the upmost success.

Written by Megan Ryder-Maki.
Twitter: @ixxmcmxl | Instagram: @bbtalkz

‘Someone Out There’- Rae Morris Album Review

‘Someone Out There’ is the sophomore album from the ridiculously talented Rae Morris. On this new album, Morris has expanded her sonic horizons and ventured into new areas of production, creating a record that is ambitious and adventurous, whilst retaining some of the character that attracted fans to her debut album ‘Unguarded’.

Opening with ‘Push Me To My Limit’, Morris’ vocals are pushed right to the forefront, sounding better than ever. This track builds and builds before slowly fading out. After this point, the album could take one of two directions. It could’ve stayed in the lane of her debut and continued with more piano ballads, but instead, we are launched into ‘Reborn’ – the first single lifted from ‘Someone Out There’, which Morris described as “a sort of Europop banger”. She’s not mistaken, the track delivers the emotional depth of a typical Rae Morris song through its lyrics, but introduces us to a more pop direction with its electronic production and catchy chorus. The song has a positive message of self-reinvention and being content with the possibility of changing as a person.

Following this, ‘Do It’ is (arguably) one of the best tracks released in 2017 and in my opinion, should’ve been at least a Top 5 single on the charts. But alas, we live in a world of great injustice… It also has a positive message, encouraging people to try new things and pursue their gut instinct.

Before listening to the full album, I was slightly concerned that it would not be able to live up to the hype created by the singles, but ‘Dip My Toe’ is the first of many tracks on the latter half of the album which proved me wrong. It’s an infectiously catchy song about experimentation, the excitement of being single and finding a new relationship and the production is absolutely stellar.

Morris is particularly proud of the production on the album’s penultimate track ‘Rose Garden’, which is the most experimental song she has ever released. She also stated in a Twitter Q&A that it is “very special and particularly moving” for her to listen to and told fans that she intends to explore this new avenue of electronic production on future releases.

The album closes with my favourite track, ‘Dancing With Character’, which tells the tale of an elderly couple who used to go dancing together. The husband lost his wife, but the song tells us that he continues to go dancing without her, retracing their steps. It showcases the beauty of love, how we remain connected to those we have lost through things as simple as movement. The song closes in a beautiful moment that sounds just like an Elton John track, a gorgeous ending to an emotional rollercoaster of an album.

All in all, this record is totally stunning and is definitely a contender for the ‘Best of 2018’ lists. If you’re a fan of Björk, Kate Bush or Grimes, then you’ll probably adore this record as much as I do. This album isn’t a grower, it’s one you fall head over heels in love with upon first listen.

 

Written by Conor Giblin (@conorjgiblin on Twitter.)

‘Dream Wife’ – Dream Wife Album Review

 

Dream Wife’s debut album is a perfectly executed meditation on what it means to be a woman in a modern age and an exploration of the complexity of that. The London based trio are favourites at Girls Against for a reason and their long awaited first album proves precisely why- at its heart it is a phenomenal love-letter to powerful, strong women and a direct challenge to patriarchal restrictions, and proves that, as they express on ‘F.U.U’, Dream Wife are indeed for life.

‘Dream Wife’ as an album is difficult to define- it transcends genre boundaries in its seamless combination of the best parts of pop with unapologetic punk attitudes. Citing influences as disparate as The Cribs and The Spice Girls, it’s clear to see how they’ve crafted their eclecticism. The band have commented on how in making the album, they attempted to ‘capture what we do onstage’, and this shines through each of the 11 tracks; they put on a spectacularly engaging live performance, and it is definitely reflected in their recorded tracks, which possess a lot of obvious pent-up emotion which encompasses the album entirely.

Though there’s a distinct Dream Wife feel to the album as a whole, it definitely develops down different avenues and many of the songs are sonically worlds apart, whilst still capturing that effortless cool vibe and the self-exploration which is quintessentially Dream Wife. Some standout tracks include my personal favourite, ‘Love Without Reason’, which is a dreamlike ode to falling head over heels with someone. The song encapsulates a yearning for innocence, particularly in the line ‘let’s be kids and fall in love’, and unearths a softer side to the band.

The opening song of the album, ‘Let’s Make Out’, epitomises Dream Wife: setting frontwoman Rakel Mjöll’s distinguishing vocals against a backdrop of some incredible thrashing guitar riffs from the dream team that is Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, turning the song into a perfect representation of both their sound and ethos. Perhaps the most important song on their album, ‘Somebody’ presents a really powerful message in its repetition of ‘I am not my body, I am somebody’.  Taking a furious stance against victim blaming and rape culture, Dream Wife provide an ultra-empowering theme that carries on throughout. It’s fiery and old school, and the kind of music that is essential right now.

Dream Wife have proven in their debut album that they are undoubtedly a really important band- their music evokes a sense of sisterly solidarity that is nothing less than vital given the current political climate, and their unashamed embrace of femininity and womanhood is really refreshing and powerful. There’s a lot of pressure around perfecting a debut album, and it is inarguable that Dream Wife have done just that, combining all the far-flung influences possible to create an album that delves into so many different genres and emotions. There’s the infectious glee that ‘Fire’ evokes, and the angsty intensity of ‘Act My Age’- such musical diversity is a feat few bands could successfully pull off, but ‘Dream Wife’ definitely does. Ambitious, it definitely is, but rightfully so. It’s evidence that they have the strength and chemistry to achieve big things.

On a whole, ‘Dream Wife’ is a heart on your sleeve collection of songs with a raging undercurrent that sets the band in a perfect position to start sprinkling their magic everywhere. The phrase ’empowered women empower women’ is more than applicable to Dream Wife- through all the uplifting moments and the most fury-ridden ones, the main thing that the album remains is relentlessly empowering. This empowerment is evident through the band’s encouragement of women in rock and punk rock- their fervent use of the idea of ‘bad bitches’ and the way in which they urge them to come dance around at the front at their gigs shows in their music and it’s invigorating.

I also love that the album is one for many occasions because of its diversity- it’s an album to dance to, laugh to, get emotional to, and it is a complete celebration of what it means to be a girl which is really special. It’s the perfect album to listen to and get you feeling all exhilarated and giddy or alternately quite introspective, and the amalgamation of emotions it presents makes it a versatile and intriguing offering. Despite the band initially forming as a bit of a joke at art university, their debut album irrevocably shows that Dream Wife are a band that deserve to be taken seriously, and will continue making a storm on the music scene for a lot longer yet. It is definitely one to be added to every ‘girl power’ playlist you can, so I would highly recommend giving it a listen and letting yourself feel like the ‘bad bitch’ Dream Wife want you to.

Written by Neive McCarthy (@neiveeee on Twitter.)