by Josh Vanek
The Magpies are one of those bands that you're certain you've heard before the first time you hear them. They've got that built-in familiarity, and kind of walk the well-worn streets of slacker mode independent rock that all kinds of great bands have. I say "slacker" pretty lovingly, thinking about those groups like Pavement and uh, who else, Superchunk and (the kind of more obscure Iowans) House of Large sizes who were absolutely bands that worked and got recording/tours done, but just had that sort of hair-over-the-eyes kind of vibe. Those were the days when you didn't see a lot of Love Boat-style nautical themes in bands. It was a more jeans/flannel scene. There were shirts that said "SPAWN OR DIE."
Anyway, when I see Sam and Tolan from the Magpies singing duets, I think of greats like Fred and Toody Cole from Dead Moon and Georgia and Ira from Yo La Tengo. It's got that same kind of honest and emotional deal for me.
Hey, look, I'm probably being pretty vague here, but ol' Elvis Costello said it best when he said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." He summed up the futility of trying to write about something that's such a gut-level deal as music. That said, most of the good music I listen to has happened because somebody's recommended it to me, or told me about it in one way or another. So if you're in one of these towns, or have friends there: send them out to see a great Montana group called the Magpies.
Some interesting Magpies facts: Drummer Dave Martens is an amateur musicologist working on a Montana psychedelia compilation called Long Time Comin': Lost Sounds from the Treasure State. Guitar player Troy "Hank" Donovan is the proprietor of the Rattlesnake Cable Company, an burly instrument cable outfit.
Say hey to 'em for me.
Here are their tour dates:
March 29- Billings, MT Railyard Ale House
March 30- Minot, ND Pangea House
March 31- Grand Forks, ND Ojata Records
April 1- Minneapolis, MN Sound Gallery
April 2- Madison, WI The Frequency
April 3- Chicago, IL The Office (Aka Wally World)
April 4- Milwaukee, WI Quarters Rock n Roll Palace