Magic Trick
Other Man’s Blues [LP; Empty Cellar]

That last Fresh & Onlys records was so GREAT, among my top-three releases of that year; but wasn’t that 2014 or some shizz? What’s going on with the most prolific artist this side of John Dwyer? Not sure. My wife and I talked with Tim Cohen at Psych Fest in 2014 and he was stoked on House of Spirits and the possibilities that came with it. I also noticed how wrapped up he is in the many hidden meanings of his lyrics; that was a huge eye-/ear-opener, particularly for someone like me who has gorged on F&O for years without giving the lyrics much thought (truthfully, I rarely do). Big mistake, if Cohen is involved. He imbues his words with simplistic wisdom that comes off as random at times if you’re not plugged in deeeeep and paying attention. Magic Trick’s new record on Empty Cellar (pressed on brilliant white-orange vinyl AND it comes with a cassette of demos if you order the limited edition, which of COURSE you’ll do I hope) is… well, another Magic Trick record on Empty Cellar. Cohen’s got a coherent style going for this project, and its super-smooth, better-produced-than-usual motif works in an odd, Smith Westerns-second-album (in terms of a dramatic shift from lofi to cleaner climes) kinda way, the groove sinking into the skin without any one element grabbing attention over the rest. It can be a little frustrating when you consider the insanely instantaneous ear-worms Cohen is capable of. He’s being difficult (though if you look at the liner notes he spells out just how simple his riff choices are), refusing to bend to his second-nature relationship with catchy songs, and while that sounds like a drag I think it kicks ass. I’ve always been a big side project guy (Blackout Beach anyone?), and while Cohen is revealing less of himself rather than more, which goes against the customary nature of a lead-singer-from-another-band-is-branching-out LP, he ends up blowing his hand in the end because his vulnerability is behind every gentle riff and trumpet line that makes you go ‘hmmmm.’ By the time, say, “First Thought” floats in your window like a steady, insistent breeze, you’ll be calling Cohen a genius all over again and marveling at this lil’ Magic Trick he’s once again pulled off. Other Man’s Blues also features the aforementioned presentational bonuses (color vinyl, great booklet, foil text or whatever you call that stuff that shines off the jacket like a shiny beacon) that buttress Cohen’s brilliance like a therapeutic back pillow. Another day, another triumph; NEXT.

Links: Empty Cellar


Cerberus seeks to document the spate of home recorders and backyard labels pressing limited-run LPs, 7-inches, cassettes, and objet d’art with unique packaging and unknown sound. We love everything about the overlooked or unappreciated. If you feel you fit such a category, email us here.

Most Read