Magick Mountain – ‘Weird Feelings’

Weird Feelings is the debut album of garage and fuzz rock outfit Magick Mountain. The record feels less like a beginning than anything, as even though it’s their first studio recorded, full-length album under the Magick Mountain brand, most people familiar with the Leeds music scene will probably know the three members from other projects.

Lins Wilson, who provides vocals and guitar on most if not all of the songs on the project, is perhaps better known for her work as a cellist in the collective Buffalo or for her experience in other bands such as Mother Vulpine and Grammatics, to name a few. Fans of Pulled Apart By Horses, on the other hand, will recognise Tom Hudson as the lead guitarist of the famous Leeds-based outfit, although he’s more present than ever on the bass guitar for this project, and provides vocals on all songs. Last but not least, Nestor Matthews completes the trio, having too gained experience from playing in indie rock and garage rock bands such as Sky Larkin and Menace Beach.

In addition to all this, the Magick Mountain name isn’t exactly a new one; they’ve been touring the UK and lighting up various festival scenes for already a few years. Hell, even their first single “Zodiac” has been on most streaming platforms since 2017, so it’s actually surprising that they only decided on putting the whole thing together now.

What definitely stands out on all songs is how loud the guitar is mixed and how many different colors it’s given throughout the tracklist, just short of a dozen tunes long. This is definitely not a bad thing as, even though a lot of the songwriting gets stale on the back-end of the album, the trio always seem to have another effect to turn on, or another pedal to press to captivate the listener and give the tracks the energy necessary for them to be easily replayable. One of the best examples of this is “Infinity x2”, on which the sudden tempo change at the middle point of the track allows for two stylistically different and very enjoyable guitar solos. The track also ironically contains the mark of its replay value in its name.

The extensive use of heavy effects such as wah pedals and a lot of compression, on tracks such as “Brown Bread” and “Cherokee”, makes for a very rich sound that gives the listener – in a lot of instances – the impression of hearing the band perform live (which was probably the case for a good few of the tracks, although there’s no way to be 100% sure). The pure energy and the “sloppiness” demonstrated in the delivery of each particular guitar solo and bass riff also accentuates this impression and cements Magick Mountain’s position as a clear fuzz rock outfit, with a tendency to explore the psychedelic without ever fully embracing it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUNb-_XyfIM

“The Shitty Beatles” ironically sounds a lot like cuts from some of Led Zeppelin’s early stuff, which is a great way of underlining how vintage Weird Feelings sounds like. Although listening to this record makes for an enjoyable listen, the songwriting isn’t infallible as mentioned previously, which isn’t to say each song isn’t great in their own way – lyrics just don’t seem to be the main focus for the band and most of what is said is very difficult to understand anyway due to the eccentric delivery that works really well in the context of the album.

The vocal lines are very monotonic but not in the “boring” sense of the word; they simply stay on the same note most of the time as if someone was shouting the words without a sense of melody. The best examples for this are “Bart Cobain” and “Zodiac”, the latter using this technique probably in a better way as a blues grid seems to be drawn in the first bars of the track, something that appears in other parts of the album too. The chord progressions become very repetitive by the end of the album, as all songs seem to follow a simple formula of major root chords that are looped for the first half of the track before descending into some dystopian, contrasted ending that is polished with heavy guitar solos. This is not to say that the formula doesn’t work, it’s actually great, but by the end of “King Cobra”, you can already guess what’s coming next before the trio try anything out. This means that a lot of the tracks are probably more enjoyable when played on their own rather than in the context of the album.

One great track that definitely switches up the whole dynamic of the record is “Dream Chaser” that starts with beautifully-panned acoustic guitar riffs that drive the song to a monumental finish and a lavish guitar solo. The slow pace of the song also makes for a great beginning to “Infinity x2”, one of the few tracks that starts off with a hard-hitting vocal line that will definitely surprise anyone that was still reflecting upon the song prior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jghjD23Bcds

“Infinity x2” also contains some cello notes, which work great and adds a unique flavour to the band’s music that’s not always clear on other songs (can most bands boast having a guitar player who also doubles as a great cello player? Probably not.) Some extra cello can be heard on “The Creeper”, the last track off the album and also one of the best. This time, the instrument is part of what sounds like a string quartet, though it could easily be a pitched cello. The whole ending of the album, marked by this cello in “The Creeper”, is very surrealist and resembles in many ways electro-acoustic music, which is a really interesting touch that fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and makes it sound more ambitious and complete than it would have otherwise.

The listener is left with a cello drone that briefly decides to take on some saturation for the last few seconds of the album so as to remind anyone that might have forgotten what the heavy sound and aesthetic that Magick Mountain powerfully produced during the whole run time of the album. Another brilliant aspect of the album are the vocals, provided by both Wilson and Hudson, whose voices are confusingly hard to distinguish on most tracks and take on different sounds that range from the likes of Foster The People to The Beatles. Overall, the vocal performances are tasteful and show a great range and energy which is exactly what you want to hear when all you feel like doing is jumping around and making a fool out of yourself.

With its brilliantly crafted basslines and direct drums, Weird Feelings definitely makes great use of its forty-minute runtime and looks like a solid foundation for any future albums or EPs the band might plan on releasing in the future. If you’re angry at someone or something or just want to listen to some good music and have a banging time, then Weird Feelings should be your go to.

Listen to Weird Feelings now on all major streaming platforms.

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