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Magical Beasts

Peninsula

Review by Gary Hill

These guys are definitely tied to the modern roots music trend. That means they land somewhere in the neighborhood occupied by things like folk, bluegrass and more. Yet there is a creative, artsy sort of vibe here, too. Sure, the basis is stripped back and purely down-to-Earth sounds, but they seem to strive to use those elements to create something that rises into the territory of high art. This is quite a cool set, as is the EP that I've also reviewed in this issue of Music Street Journal.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
King of the Undead
I dig the playful acoustic guitar riff that opens this. Percussion joins first, and then the vocals enter. The roots music sounds are at the heart of this. Horns later bring a different angle to the piece as the arrangement fills out quite a bit.
Hunter
A slow moving cut, this is intricate and powerful with a dreamy kind of folk music element at play.
My Own Way Down
The basic concept isn't changed all that much, but somehow I'm reminded of something Bob Dylan might write on this song. With the multiple layers of vocals, the horns and more on this, though, the concept is definitely taken to a different level. This is one of the strongest cuts I've heard from this act.
Glory Be
While the roots music concepts are unchanged here, this song is actually fairly complex. The horns and other elements add a lot to the piece. This even leans toward progressive music, if not progressive rock.
Learning and Forgetting
A stark contrast to the previous piece, the arrangement here is very stripped back. The Bob Dylan reference is again valid here. I like the bits of country music that come in later in the piece.
Clara June
Another slow moving cut, the horns add a lot to the mix. This is a fun little piece that's quite effective.
That We Are
A mellower, stripped back piece, this is classy. It does have multiple layers of vocals in a haunting sort of arrangement. This is a subdued number. On a lot of albums I'm not sure something this low-key would work as a closer. Here, though, it seems to fit quite well.
 
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