Personnel: Tim Cohen (vocals, guitar).
Audio Mixer: Phil Manley.
Recording information: Lucky Cat, SF; Mousetrap Studio, SF.
Magic Trick returns a year after Half Man Half Machine, a more experimental effort released as two over-15-minute tracks, with their fifth official album, Other Man's Blues. It was written and recorded by bandleader Tim Cohen in between time dedicated to his other band, the Fresh & Onlys, and to his expanding household. Inspired by efficiency, Cohen worked from a songbook he made to cut down on rehearsals with the dozen-plus musicians on the record, and sessions were largely improvised. Back in the realm of the four-minute song, Other Man's Blues continues Magic Trick's celebration of classic psychedelic pop, with brief excursions into later scenes. The opening track, "More," takes a trippy ride in a minor key along group vocal harmonies reminiscent of late-'60s San Francisco. Almost symphonic in nature, it transforms verses, choruses, and other sections as they are revisited, sometimes unexpectedly, for a track that packs a lot into its five minutes. The poppier "Startling Chimes" combines an R&B groove with the sounds of sitar, organ, and male-female doubled vocals to form what could have been a hit in 1966. The record wanders into post-punk for "I Held the Ring," which shares the doubled vocals and druggy effect of most of Other Man's Blues, if not the instrument palette. "Purest Thing" is another digression, with wistful synths that sound more '80s than '60s (or 2010s). Throughout, Cohen's knack for mature songcraft and a pleasant melody makes for an album that feels like it may have been around for years. ~ Marcy Donelson