Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mag Seven - Eighth Round Knockoutdotdotdot
artworkThe Mag Seven have a most unusual CD here. Eleven tracks from a punk perspective, and five piano excursions. The writing is inconsistent, from mere chord progression backtracks to excellent constructions with flair and melody. The contrast between the punk tracks and the artful piano work is also a head tilter. So, while it's a mixed bag, it's also worth seeking out. There's even some surfable stuff here.
Picks: Sevens, Brainiac, The Ballad Of Bret Reynolds, Daredevil, Me No Scare, Paco's Revenge, Minutes, No Name, D. S. P., El Mechanico Loco, Peso Party Girls, Lullaby For Eden, Untitled #1, Untitled #2, Untitled #3, Untitled #4

Track by Track Review

Sevens dotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

"Sevens" presents mostly a progression, like a punkoidal backtrack in search of a melody. The riff is fairly nondescript, though there is a certain intrigue. The playing is precise and very aggressive, without being offensive.

Brainiac dotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Punk and rolling through a speedy grind, again without a real melody. The damped chop in the bridge is cool, and the snare sounds great. Otherwise, it seems like a backtrack.

The Ballad Of Bret Reynolds dotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

This shreds with snotty angst and aggressive grind. It sports a couple of flying glissandoes, but no melody. More assault than song.

Daredevil dotdotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

With a punkline sorta intro, "Daredevil" uses a riff more like a melody, with furious damped guitar - bass - tom tom glissandoes. It's gets a little tedious after a while, but still energizes. I can't say there's any surf here exactly, but it does have a short board attitude. All in all, it works pretty well.

Me No Scare dotdotdotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Dry metered chops like a controlled and dark Toy Dolls, "Me No Scare" provides a gloomy vision of cold wind and rain under a dark gray sky as murky gray-green waves grind the rocks of the cliffs. Menacing and forbidding. This is the standout track.

Paco's Revenge dotdotdotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Punk stuff, well laid out, and melodic. "Paco's Revenge" sports a fine melody line that speaks to a punk-surfabilly sensibility, while presenting a smooth high powered sound. Very chunky, yet liquid. This is the other standout track.

Minutes dotdotdotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Slowly eking out an existence, like a dissonant post-punk version of "I Cover The Waterfront." This works pretty well. The gloom and danger are quite clear, and the inadequate light of the docks after midnight leaves shadows of possible lurking threats everywhere. Quite effective.

No Name dotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Nondescript punk progression, no melody, and no sense of focus here. With a lead line over the top, it would be a powerful backtrack, but without a melody line, it gets old pretty quickly.

D. S. P. dotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Dissonant nervous energy, with more drive than song. The riff is sorta interesting, but not melodic. The surf beat under the grind creates a contrary edge that holds it together. The gentle break is very nice by contrast, though too short. Fifteen second blasts on one chord repeats does not a song make.

El Mechanico Loco dotdotdotdot
Surf Punk Rock (Instrumental)

With a "What Ever Happened To Eddie" bass line, and a spy riff, coupled with glissandoes, this odd construct works very well. It has quite a surfability, with whammy and a watery sense. It's made up of inspired licks from "Pipeline," "Wipe Out," "Walk Don't Run," and other classics without being at all derivative. "El Mechanico Loco" lies somewhere between the Torpedoes and Ten Foot Faces.

Peso Party Girls dotdotdot
Punk Rock (Instrumental)

Fast, shredderific, but non melodic. The break is cool in an artful sorta way, especially in contrast to the main body of the piece. It's mostly a how fast and loud can you play show off piece.

Lullaby For Eden dotdotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

An almost forties black and white movie slow gliding acoustic guitar melody, with a solid walking bass line, a piano, and brushed drums. The effect is stunning. Completely out of sync with the rest of the disc, yet quite pleasing. At first listen, I kept waiting to be suddenly lunged upon by assaultive guitar grind, but it never happened. A very good track, with excellent writing and delivery.

Untitled #1 dotdotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

Beyond the timing marks of track 12 lie several piano excursions. The first features a solo piano sadly plays as an inmate screams in tortured tones, like some maniacal white-coated doctor playing while the asylum burns. It ends in thin applause and almost withheld laughter. This is likely from a rehearsal or something. The guys are laughing at what they are creating.

Untitled #2 dotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

A piano and controlled percussion piece rolls out like an exercise in keyboarding. Short and less interesting.

Untitled #3 dotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

Metered piano chops, like an unmelodic chop sticks parades past a captive audience.

Untitled #4 dotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

Slow and graceful, this seems moody and cool, accented by the clammer of kitchen utensils gone awry, like some early music concrete experiment. The piano is almost classical, certainly sad, almost morose.