Friday Night Jazz Rock: Magic Numbers

I learned an astonishing fact from the WSJ’s Weekend Adviser: the first CD from The
Magic Numbers
sold a mere 44,000 copies in the US.

That’s astonishing to me, considering what a great CD it is. Long time readers may remember a mention of this from our Best of 2006 music list.

I thought the band’s debut disc, The Magic Numbers, was the best new rock and roll release of 2006.

The band is an amalgam of all sorts of oddities, but the entire assemblage works surprisingly well: Magic Numbers are two pairs of brother/sister teams (from Trinidad/New York/London), running somewhat counter-trend. A reviewer described it as “an unfashionable blend of soft country pop with Fifties and Sixties inflections.” What I liked about it was the strong mix of rock and roll, summery guitars, laid over skiffle and country pop structures. It is spare and at the same time complex, flavored with an inflection of a1960s guitar band.

Somehow, it all sounds very modern, via classic rock instruments — simply guitar bass drums — no synth.

Romeo Stodart, the lead singer/guitarist said “I feel that we’ve made a real, classic debut album”– and that’s an apt description. The songs are jangly, melodic and hook laden; the writing is outstanding. Lyrics and vocals reveal a tender vulnerability. I found the album very addictive — with each listen, you want to hear more.

On the strength of the first CD, I bought the UK version of their next disc, Those the Brokes. It was merely ok, with a few good songs.

Now I learn the new CD is being re-released, in a bit less somber version. Here’s the latest update on the 2nd version of their sophomore effort:

“British rockers The Magic Numbers have something unusual to thank for their new album’s mood: corporate restructuring.

The U.S. version of the CD, “Those the Brokes,” was to come out in February on Capitol Records. But when EMI decided to merge Capitol with its Virgin Records label, the album was left in limbo. Finally EMI’s indie-oriented label, Astralwerks, stepped in, offering to put it out this summer.

The extended delay gave the band a chance to digest some of the complaints (too long, too somber) the album received after its fall release in the United Kingdom, where the band is far more popular. The members reordered the tracks, cut two long ballads and added a shorter, peppier number, according to the band’s manager, Paul Noble.

“It’s not ridiculously sunny pop,” Mr. Noble says. “But there’s a more upbeat flavor to it.”

Be sure to check out the first album — its a must own. You can stream much of the new disc from the band’s website, the Magic Numbers.net.

The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You:

WSJ on the Magic Numbers:

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Source:
Music: Rockers Reflect, Cheer Up
SAM SCHECHNER
WSJ, July 13, 2007
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118429007757865492.html

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Mike commented on Jul 13

    huh? if you really like them, you ought to do better. … I love your econ commentary, but s far as i see this band is a fem sucko group.

  2. Barry Ritholtz commented on Jul 14

    I don’t know what a “fem sucko” group is — but to those who listen to the CD, these guys play great music that is a bit different from the usual radio fare. It’s thoughtful, musically interesting, and playful in a retro way.

  3. Latibulum commented on Jul 14

    De gustibus non disputandum.

  4. Sven commented on Jul 14

    Barry…Mike’s post gives you an idea of why they only sold 44K copies in the US. The American musical gamut is about a half inch wide (‘cept for yourself, et al).

    Your story takes me back about 10 years when the English group Pulp had taken Europe by storm. I had a friend visit from Denmark and we went to see them on South Street in Philly for about $10. There were about 100 people there. I had never heard of them, and he couldn’t believe we could walk in and stand at the stage. 🙂

  5. Richard Hanley commented on Jul 14

    Barry,
    Thanks, I bought it for my girlfriend at the time and we were both very, very impressed. Played it over and over.
    Rick

  6. anon commented on Jul 14

    Barry:

    I can’t like them just on principle, since the first place I heard about them was the Wall Street Journal link you put on your site.

    Seriously. Who in their right mind uses the WSJ to find new rock?

    Next time, youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qTprx8UKI4&mode=related&search=

    ~~~

    As noted in the post, I was a fan of these guys back in 2006, and they made my “Best of” list for the year. The WSJ was merely a reminder of that.

  7. Tom B commented on Jul 16

    Barry: unrelated to this particular group, but check out Keren Ann (http://www.myspace.com/kerenann). Beautiful voice (though she could use a better producer). Regardless, I think you’ll like her. Heard her on “All Songs Considered”

  8. David Niederman commented on Jul 16

    barry-

    love the blog, many thanks for all the effort. you may want to check out Sam Roberts’ Chemical City. I’m a fan of the magic numbers as well. cheers-

    -David

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