Living in Brooklyn, every couple of days there's a new band that people start talking about. While I'm glad to see the fake garage bands quietly kicking the bucket, in their defense, it was easy to dismiss local bands with so many people following the same tired formula. All of a sudden, a bunch of excellent bands have been popping up in the area creating inventive and exciting music. I have to pay much more attention just to keep up.
White Magic have been on the radar for the last six months or so playing their brand of dark folk all over the city. Led by singer/guitarist/pianist Mira Billotte (formerly of Quix*o*tic), I didn't take notice until the band signed with Chicago label-of-quality, Drag City. Their first album, the Through The Sun Door EP is quite possibly the most exciting release of 2004 thus far.
A small collection of six tracks, White Magic make the most of what an EP is supposed to accomplish: introduce the band and have listeners drooling for a full-length. From the rolling piano notes on the opening "One Note," with its artsy and melodic vocals that recall the best moments from the Raincoats, until the EP concludes with the minimalist blues groove of "Apocalypse," White Magic never skip a beat and never skimp on quality.
The acoustic guitar strumming on "Keeping the Wolves From the Door" make this my favorite track in a collection of top notch music. Mira's voice is spare and minimal that recalls Chan Marshall, but Mira is not afraid to sing and her voice is what separates her from the logical comparisons to Cat Power.
It's rare that you find so much to enjoy in an album only around 25 minutes long. The strength of these songs, the inventive use of guitars and pianos, and an ambiance that is exciting and refreshing makes Through The Sun Door one of the must-have releases of 2004 and makes White Magic one of the proverbial "Bands to Watch" in the coming months.
2. Don't Need
3. Keeping the Wolves From the Door
4. The Gypsies Came Marching After
5. Plain Gold Ring