So, John Reis is making his "return" to the indie music with his new outfit, The Night Marchers, following the recent demises of both Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt. Described as an amalgamation of sorts of the sound and themes of these previous outfits, Reis (on guitar and vocals) is not the sole member of the group as Gar Wood (bassist in Hot Snakes, frequent Reis collaborator) joins on guitar, Jason Kourkounis (also of Hot Snakes) handles drums while Tommy Kitsos provides the bass sounds. This debut album, See You in Magic is an interesting possibility that is immediately intriguing due to the past efforts of Reis with and without his fellow members of The Night Marchers. The real question is whether or not See You in Magic fulfills the promise that its writers and performers seem to provide by their involvement in The Night Marchers.
Right out of the gate, "Closed for Inventory" is a brooding number with a rough edge that contains just enough melody, and when the chorus kicks in, the hook is tremendously infectious. The lead vocals play a huge part in the forming of the song's character, and the back-up vocals present themselves in the perfect places that only enhance the complete arrangement. Besides containing an excellent opening line (to which I have a personal affinity, "Give me cold coffee, on a Friday night," it sets a vivid mental image) "I Wanna Deadbeat You" is an upbeat tune which uses a nice sing along type chorus that seems a bit non-sensical while remaining extremely catchy, and the transition into the chorus (a common sounding blues progression not unlike "Johnny B. Goode") adds a nice touch to round out the sound of the song. Another excellent song on See You in Magic is the hyper melodic "Jump in the Fire" which is chock full of hooks throughout the whole track. Reis surely outdoes himself with this one as it is a bit laid back but still has it all, great guitar melody, great vocals, just the right tempo (hopefully people will sing along to "Nervous breakdown at 18…" as much as I do).
Remarkably, See You in Magic is full of one excellent track after another at an incomprehensible rate, and by the time "Who's Lady R U?" hits my ears it really is unbelievable that so many enjoyable songs comprise this album. This song's chorus is so good, replete with the cherry topping "whoo's" that begs to be repeatedly listened to over and over again (I dare any fan of rock and roll, much less Rocket from the Crypt fans, to refrain from singing along to this). When the first guitar chords are quickly struck, it is obvious that "Open Your Legs" is a frenetic rocker of a track and immediately recalls some of the best aspects of old time "rock 'n' roll" in recent memory. The upbeat and raucous sound is perfect as Reis channels a slew of old tricks - call and response, loud to soft to loud dynamic changes, and lyrics full of tongue in cheek innuendo - to make one hell of a song and serves as a perfect example of some of his best work. "Panther in Crime" is a poppy tune that is carried by an outstanding vocal performance by Speedo, and the subtle background vocals add just the right touch to this slower tempo track; although a bit of a shock to hear such a blatant pop tune at first, its existence and placing more than makes sense for The Night Marchers when put into the context of the whole album.
In all honesty, See You in Magic is more than just a pleasant surprise but seems to signal a renewed vigor and desire to write great rock and roll songs. Reis and company slap out a great batch of tunes that hit on a wide variety of sounds while still adhering to a distinct sound that ties everything together rather nicely. Arguably, this record may be one of the best that the former front man of Rocket from the Crypt and guitarist of Hot Snakes has penned to date, as there is such a large portion of this that is aural gold. Some people, though one would have to question the sanity and or taste of such individuals, might not be hip to the stylistic sound of The Night Marchers, but I find it to be a welcome addition to my record collection even though it is unknown if this will see the light of day on vinyl. If a good old rock and roll record sounds appealing, do not sleep on this album, and fans of the members' aforementioned previous outfits should not be disappointed by it either.
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