Magazine Gap – Calling Card – EP Review
Highly-skilled players and in-depth songwriting/musicianship are certainly prevalent here. London’s three-piece Rock/Soul band Magazine Gap clearly have a vision for their sound and found a way to execute that ambition into a brilliantly entertaining set of four songs to create their Calling Card EP. “Snakes & Ladders” begins the experience in the style of that pepped-up, emotive & expressive sound you can hear in music like Maroon 5, Bruno Mars or Ed Sheeran…and even though those artists are thriving on a more old-school method & vibe in their music than much of what you’ll find throughout our modern-day right now – it’s clear that people still absolutely love that vibrant soul sound. And it’s in drawing to what become obvious comparisons with these artists that you realize there’s plenty of room for Magazine Gap to fit in to what be somewhat of a niche club but very large & widespread audience.
“Snakes & Ladders” quickly latches onto some excellent ideas in the rhythm, melody and beat…lots of incredible use of timing and space – Magazine Gap quickly displays both that three people are certainly enough to be more than effective in creating a big sound but also shows enough restraint to not try to overcompensate by jamming the song with too much. The piano, guitar & drum combination works extremely well right off the bat – especially in the chorus, the piano part that layers overtop is absolute magic and a great idea to have added in. The vibe is good, the entertainment factor is there in the smooth approach to the verse and bright burst in the chorus with excellent vocals – Magazine Gap quickly gets you on their side with a strong opening tune.
Shifting into a noticeably more ‘good-time’ style on “Body Language” – I’ll toss this one back at you and ask what’s NOT to love about this song? Radiant energy in the music of this tune and lyrically clever – the happiness & accessibility factor increases a bit here in my opinion…I think this is a tune that people would certainly strongly connect with & fall in love with quickly. I mean C’MON – even if you were completely made of STONE you’d end up moving & shaking a little something to this song…it’s got that uplifting sound built right into the fabric of its rhythm & groove. Crisp & clear drums…great additions to the beat with the light-funk guitars and soulful piano sounds…huge accessibility in this melody and they put in another strong performance to match the energy in the writing and idea perfectly. Loved the switch nearing the two minute mark and the subtle but soaring guitar notes that enter into the mix…it IS a subtle add, but if you’re listening, it’s a really well-played moment with great emotion in the tone.
LISTEN to the innovative way they play “What’s That About?” – because that’s pure awesomeness right there. They’ve put in a clever trading-off of the instruments a bar at a time to create the rhythm & melody throughout the verse that really works incredibly well and is seriously entertaining to listen to. For myself personally…this is probably my favorite tune of the four…there’s a shift towards a slightly more serious and focused sound here and I really felt like Magazine Gap put their hearts & souls right into this track. If anything I might have slightly brought down the repeating keys/piano sounds in the chorus just a touch…but that’s a minor observation at best and hardly a factor when you listen. The construction, assembly and building of this cut is truly stunning…felt like they really nailed this idea tightly and really explored its every possibility for direction and where it could take them next. Something about the sound of their performance on “What’s That About?” had that added 10% more weight to it and I really felt like it led me to a more satisfying experience…I dig all these tunes for the record…but I felt as if not only was this my own personal favorite, but the band’s as well based on the way they play this one.
As far as I understand it and the fact that there’s already a video for it, the final tune on the EP “Calling Card” is also the lead-single. I’ll say this…it’s as good of a choice as ANY; to be completely honest it’s rare to hear such consistency over four tracks back-to-back…but I honestly came out feeling like any of these songs could serve as a single and represent them well. It COULD have something to do with the highlight performance that singer James Keen puts in at the end here on “Calling Card” that put it just over the edge as their choice for lead single – but credit goes to the performances and writing of these tunes; I really felt like they all came out incredibly strong. Perhaps a little more danceable than the rest…that might be the reason for “Calling Card” jumping ahead in the line…it’s got that whole light-funk/disco rhythm going on…people always love those. Like I said…as good a choice as any from the record would have been…impressive players, innovative ideas and honest performances have led this band to a truly entertaining set of songs that’s bound to have strong appeal and something for everyone out there.
Find out more about Magazine Gap from their official homepage at: http://magazinegap.com/
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