Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Brian Thorn at Room 17, Brooklyn, New York
We recorded this session on a Friday afternoon, near the tail end of CMJ week in New York City. It is the first ever session that Magic Man has ever recorded. The Boston five-piece became a band I cared about over a year ago, when I would get grainy videos of live performances and demo recordings. Each and every time they sent me something it became more and more apparent that they were wood-shedding the hell out of these songs. They were finding what they were all about. They were dressing differently. They were tighter and better with every passing day.
This session is a MONSTROUS coming out party. The recording of it was quick and easy. There were nerves, but you can't hear them anywhere. You hear in these songs - taped at an un-rock and roll hour of pre-sundown - what we saw the following night at Milk Studios in Manhattan, where they were headlining an invite-only festival-closing Communion showcase.
You enter this glitzy photography gallery to a collection of rare Muhammad Ali prints, featuring the boxer in his younger years, when he was at the peak of his prime. There was an Ali quote on the far upstairs wall that read, "Maybe I was great in the ring, but outside of boxing, I'm just a brother like other people. I want to live a good life, serve God, help everybody. And one more thing. I'm still gonna find out who stole my bike when I was 12 years old in Louisville and I'm gonna whup him. That was a good bike."There were a lot of white walls and ideal accent lighting before moving downstairs, where there was plenty of exposed brick and duct work, where there were neon lights and a basement feel that's wonderful for a young and perky band, feeling their oats at one or two in the morning.
Magic Man lead singer Alex Caplow - in this setting - embodied that young man who has no trouble seizing his moments. His bandmates - Sam Vanderhoop Lee, Justine Bowe, Joey Sulkowski and Daniel Radin - had no problem following his lead, with a sweaty and joy-filled performance that gives you chills, just in the knowledge, or the hunch, that this is the kind of thing that they can and want to bring about nightly. It was a performance that echoes the general tone of these songs. They are songs that make you feel as if you might be as alive as you're ever going to feel right now. This might be it and there's nothing at all wrong with that.