Were the world a rational place, 2012 might very well have been a dark year for Teeny Lieberson. Since her departure, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich has taken Lieberson’s former band, Here We Go Magic, under his wing. Under his guidance, the band released its most critically acclaimed album to date in the form of A Different Ship. Fortunately for listeners, logic is a rare bird in this world of ours. Rather than wallow in what might have been, we find Lieberson fast at work on her aptly titled female group TEEN.
Brooklyn-based TEEN features Lieberson’s sisters Katherine and Lizzie on percussion and keys respectively, along with longtime friend Jane Herships on bass and Maia Ibar on drums. Each member of the band sings, and they sing well. Last year, TEEN independently released a four-track EP entitled little doods. The debut kicks off with the catchy hook of “Cannibal”, featured below. Though I’m just as smitten with the sleepy, scorned love of “Just Another” and rattling, lo-fi drone of closing track “Ocean Pearl.”
Since releasing little doods, TEEN has spent the better part of the last year carving out an identity. They have shared the stage with Thought on Tracks favorites Caveman, Gauntlet Hair and Purity Ring among others. On August 28, TEEN will release its debut full-length In Limbo on Carpark Records. The label recently dropped the album’s first single “Better”. Listen to the .mp3 here, and watch the video via PAPERMAG. The video features footage from the Kevin Bacon classic Quicksilver and is not to be missed.
Still unconvinced? If you manage to sit through “Come Back” from the Secret Garden video session featured below without immediately transforming into a staunch TEEN supporter, then I give up. The video features four previously unreleased songs, including the title track from the forthcoming LP. When you’ve got a few minutes, click play and refrain from averting your eyes until completion. You will not finish disappointed. If I’m wrong, feel free to call me an asshole in the comment section beneath the post.
Written by Rob Peoni
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A Different Ship begins with a building confluence of polyrhythms, found sound, and tense atmosphere. Here We Go Magic calls the listener to attention before releasing into a fluttering, acoustic-driven bounce. With that, the listener is off on a road trip with one of the year’s best albums. Along the journey, Brooklyn-based Here We Go Magic charts a course that is both cohesive and explorative. The band offers listeners a complete range of emotion in a release that avoids redundancy while maintaining its identity.
Here We Go Magic magnificently embraces influences without becoming defined by them, flirting for a while before moving on to the next. “Make Up Your Mind” is a dead ringer for Phish’s “Back on the Train” with the country blues twang pulled from the guitar lick. Elsewhere, “How Do I Know” instrumentally and energetically mirrors The Feelies 2005 single “Let Go.” On the title track and “Over the Ocean”, I’m reminded of Sting when I hear lead singer Luke Temple. I am typically reluctant to make these types of comparisons between artists. They aren’t meant to reduce Here We Go Magic’s work to mimicry. Rather, my hope is to illustrate that this release has put their work in the conversation with some noteworthy artists, not simply contemporaries.
Longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich produced A Different Ship. He did an excellent job of remaining in the background on this release. Flourishes of textures and atmosphere add richness without distracting from the main attraction. If Godrich’s presence can be felt, it’s in the seriousness and focus that Here We Go Magic appears to have brought to the release. A Different Ship coheres in a way that underscores the band’s significant growth since the release of Pigeons in 2010.
Here We Go Magic transitions nicely throughout this album, sounding contemplative one moment and danceable the next, without ever feeling lost or misguided. New York Times critic Jon Pareles wrote that, “Here We Go Magic loves the way a pattern promises the stability and control that Mr. Temple’s lyrics are never sure of.” This proves an accurate assessment. The songs are so tightly constructed that they allow Temple to write more abstractly.
The casual confidence that Here We Go Magic displays on A Different Ship may be the album’s greatest strength. Like all of the best bands, they make their art look effortless. Of course, it would be easy to exude confidence with Godrich in your corner. A Different Ship is another example of preparation and talent leading to genuine innovation. Pick up your copy of the release from Secretly Canadian.
Written by Rob Peoni
Recently Time Out New York began releasing a series of videos. The clips feature musicians covering, what a small staff of TONY Music writers and art critics have termed the 100 best NYC songs. The list was curated with a single premise:
“One fundamental rule—a song had to be specifically and explicitly about some aspect of NYC, be it good, bad or ugly—led to some startling omissions: Whither Patti Smith, Blondie and Talking Heads? Weeks of heated deliberation and occasionally heartbreaking cuts followed as we parsed lyrics and contexts; even seeming no-brainers like “Positively 4th Street” got voted off the island as we pondered relative merits to wrestle out a ranking,” from Time Out.
Number 14 in the series features Here We Go Magic covering George Benson’s signature “On Broadway.” The song is a complete 180 from the music that fans of this Brooklyn outfit have come to expect. The group will release their third full-length, A Different Ship, on May 8th via Bloomington’s Secretly Canadian. Check out our previous post on the album’s debut single “Make Up Your Mind.”
Written by Rob Peoni