The Magnetic South release new Music

Spindly guitar strings vie for our attention in the hurricane of harmonies that we discover in The Magnetic South’s “My Sun.” No, this isn’t an instrumental track, but these axes are telling us as much of a story as our lead singer is from under the spotlight of center stage. The song stands in strong contrast to the conservatively-distributed “The Carnival,” which relies more on its psychedelic style of implied rhythm to cultivate a mind-bending melody than it does an impressive six-string swagger, but the two don’t feel like strange bedfellows in the tracklist of Sea Level, the all-new album from The Magnetic South that’s out now everywhere than independent music is sold and streamed. Sea Level is anything but a stable pop affair, but what it lacks in polished hooks it more than makes up for in sheer sonic strength.

“The Carnival” and “Sunrise and Gravity” are really expressive lyrically, while other tracks like “Faceless” and “Porcelain Branches” appear to have been designed as pure muscle-flexing on the part of the band (though they impart just as brooding a narrative as their counterparts in the album do). Guitar-oriented rock has been catching a lot of shade in the mainstream media lately, but it’s been for reasons that really don’t apply to what we hear in Sea Level. There’s no ridiculous excess here, no jaded self-loathing in the verses, nor is there the feeling that we’re listening to something that has been recycled and/or repurposed from past hitmakers in the genre. For better or worse, The Magnetic South are experimenting with the depth of their songcraft here, and making some seriously jarring thrill-rockers in the process.


There are a lot of influences in play on Sea Level, but I don’t know that I would call this band’s sound scattered or stylistically in search of a permanent home. “Zombie Death Grip,” the title track and “The Carnival” couldn’t appear to be any more random a trio of songs to include in the same album on paper, but as they play out in this record, they feel like integral movements in a larger story being told. Sea Level isn’t a straight concept album, but it’s got a progressive fluidity that makes the substance of its material feel all the more cinematic and gripping when absorbed in a single sitting.

The Magnetic South have got a lot of potential as a group, and frankly, it’s on full display in Sea Level without any annoying filtration or poppy varnish to get between us and the guts of their musicality. You can tell that they were really pulling out all of the stops in designing these songs to be as impactful instrumentally as they are in a lyrical sense, and their efforts prove to be well worth it when we take in the enormity of the bassline in the title track, the sledge hammer-percussion in “Zombie Death Grip” and the quake of the culmination of textures in “Porcelain Branches.” This is grown-up post-rock with a decidedly anti-pretentious identity, and it’s left me feeling satisfied as a music aficionado this season for sure.

Michael Rand

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