Tw0-and-a-half years ago when we first caught a whiff of Magic Man, the band was just a pair of college kids from starched-collar Northeastern universities jamming from their Macbooks. Today, the duo, formerly just elementary school buds Alex Caplow and Sam Lee, has grown to a quintet, fleshing out their sound and direction without losing any of the charm that made us fall in love with self-released debut, Real Life Color.
Magic Man as we know it now has relocated to (the musical mecca of?) Providence, Rhode Island and released new track “Paris” last week. When we last caught up, Caplow and Lee told us their debut LP was influenced by a trip to France. This time around, it looks like the pair are drawing from the same inspirations. Turning the City of Light into a metaphorical lover on “Paris”, Caplow develops an infectious hook that’s supplemented by synth blasts and a faded, but perfectly worked piano melody. Improving on production and recording quality since their last outing, Magic Man loses a bit of that novel DIY-quality felt on Real Life Color. But that’s not to say “Paris” is anything less genuine than older tracks like “Monster” and “Darling.” The energy and verve are still there, and keeping that in spite of change is a beautiful thing.
It’s here. It’s finally here. Melted push pops. Sand between toes. The smell of sunscreen and chlorine-soaked skin. Dreams of South Africa.
It’s summer people. After a grueling year of school and work, we’re looking to take a much-needed break wherever we’ll be: at the beach, in some faraway country or in front of a television at 5:30 in the morning wishing we were in Capetown.
But wherever you’ll be, here’s some music to take on your travels. A mix of some relatively new material–with contributions from Canadian indie poppers, Stars, to South African rockers, BLK JKS–these songs should get you in the right mindset for three months of bliss.
Treeswingers’ Summer 2010 Playlist
Albert Hammond Jr.- It Never Rains in Southern California
Meet Sam Lee and Alex Caplow (front) of Magic Man. (Photo Courtesy of last.fm/music/magic+man)
Magic Man is the same as all those other bands with singular names: not singular. Composed of two college students, Sam Lee (Yale) and Alex Caplow (Tufts), the band reminds us of the creativity that can come from collaboration. At the same time, it remind us all that we’ll never create something as good as their debut album, Real Life Color. Their music is light, lo-fi, and perfect for a low-key college party. Although Treeswingers’ billionaire patron wasn’t able to cough up the money for a flight to the East Coast to see Magic Man live, we were able to sit down (figuratively–thanks Internet) with Sam and Alex to find out just what makes the magic.
Treeswingers: Let’s warm up with some basics. Where did the band start? How did you decide to start it?
Sam Lee: We’ve known each other since elementary school, but Magic Man didn’t start until last summer, when we were traveling together in France. We spent a few weeks in the south of France working on different organic farms and we had a lot of free time, so we started writing some songs on my Macbook. It was really casual and completely unplanned.
T: What are some of your influences or favorite bands? We heard bits of Ra Ra Riot, Vampire Weekend and Electric President in your music.
SL: We both listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but while we were writing most of the songs, we were on a farm in rural France and hadn’t really been listening to a lot of modern stuff. We’ve gotten comparisons to a lot of different bands–some of them make sense to us, some of them don’t, and some of the bands I’ve never even heard of, but it’s always really flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence as guys like Vampire Weekend and Electric President.