Live Review: Magic Wands & Drinking Flowers at The Echo

magicwands

Magic Wands played a homecoming show at The Echo last Monday after being on tour for several weeks with fellow local band Drinking Flowers, who now take over the Monday night residency. Originally a duo with guitarist Chris and singer/guitarist Dexy Valentine, Magic Wands has recently added bassist Tommy Alexander and drummer Keith Crutchfield, and their sound is an interesting blend of shoegaze, dream pop and post-punk. Their new album Jupiter, out now on Cleopatra Records, features hard-driving bass, sparkling guitar and drone-y female vocals.

The opening act was a quirky solo artist called Dinner, or Anders Rhedin from Copenhagen. A pop producer/singer, he sang and danced, a little spastically, along to recorded tracks. The highlight of his set (or at least what I caught of it) was when he announced that everyone should sit down for the next song, and after some urging, the crowd actually obliged. There are a couple pictures of the sitting crowd after the jump.

Drinking Flowers were up next and their set, like Magic Wands’, was heavy on the reverb, so they sounded much more shoegaze-y than on their album. Their new record is the cleverly titled New Swirled Order on Manifesto Records, and it features catchy post-punk, with strong songwriting. “Black Monday” mixes jangly Cure-sounding guitar with deep, maybe faux-solemn vocals, while “Cure” and “Public Servants” have a nice Bauhaus feel. The title track definitely recalls Joy Division, but “Your Own Sounds” feels like ’90s Britpop with high energy drums. I will have to catch another night of their residency to appreciate them more live, because I had some trouble cutting through the reverb to distinguish individual songs.

(More photos after the jump)

Magic Wands went on quite late, but with plenty of brooding energy and effective swirling lights. In the dark, with her blonde ponytail, Dexy resembled a young Victoria Jackson, sans all SNL goofiness. The band had a cool, dark stage presence and the crowd was animated in response. I recognized from Jupiter the dark-edged, rockin’ “Love Soldier,” and the awesome “Lazerbitch,” which has a snaky lead guitar line and an infectious chorus, its hook buried under layers of dark fuzz. I believe they also played “(dreamin’ like a) Heartbeat”, which has a pleasantly bendy, warped guitar sound.

Other standouts on the album are “Blue Wall,”  a more melodic, bittersweet song, and the exciting, upbeat “I’ll Never Go There Again” with its satisfying chorus. I recommend both Jupiter and New Swirled Order, and hope to catch both these bands again soon.

Simone Snaith

About Simone Snaith

Simone Snaith writes young adult and fantasy novels, and sings in the indie rock duo Turning Violet. A fan of scifi, fantasy, the supernatural and most things from the '80s, she enjoys reviewing music, books and movies. You can read about her own books at simonesnaith.com.
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