Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's hard to ignore music that comes out of the pit of a long night. It pops up here and elsewhere so often that we become conscious of these feelings that come from songs written during and for the devil's hours, over the course of which little good, but much pulse-quickened excitement takes place. This sound, of dazed out eyelids and vision in a stupor - emotions slowing down with the needing to rest body, captures all of one's courage and all of one's frailties and crippling fears. It's as if the sound of Magic Wands is the essential accomplice for kissing in back rooms, heavy petting in a dark closet or a forbidden room at a high school party or even just the idea of feeling something new for a stranger and letting it keep you awake until you're enamored and completely miserable because odds are that it's never going to happen between the two of you. It's a powerful interaction that teenagers have with time, uncertain love and the objects of their affections, where they're able to forget about everything other than that very sticky and persistent point of interest. It becomes a preoccupation and married couple Dexy and Chris Valentine of this Los Angeles-via-Nashville band are dedicated to interpreting these wishes upon stars and the shaky and graphic entries that a young girl might scribble into a diary (okay, onto her Facebook page or wall), just as she's starting to feel overwhelmed by these new things she's feeling. It's the conflict that Christina Aguilera posed in her first hit single, where her heart was saying no, but her body was saying, "Let's go," and all of these feelings and thoughts that are the spine of these hot and bothered songs that make up the band's debut EP, "Magic Love and Dreams." These are not the conversations had at the dinner table, but those that are kept far out of reach of anyone who's going to freak out about what kind of girl or boy they're becoming. They traverse the natural state of feelings, building up and boiling and getting the better of sense and reason and just abandoning all calm for calamity and awkward text messages and phone conversations. The Valentines apply a lovely, dark space to all of their odes to this teenage infatuation, this discovery of sensations that didn't exist in the past. It's as if The Ting Tings were oddly listening to White Magic, Neil Sedaka, The Velvet Underground and Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers and not hearing any difference in any of it, thinking as a collective, it was all coming from the same band and treating it as such. It's a moody, but not cold take on what it means to be enthralled with emotions that take precedence and usually leave one in a world of agony - nothing that can't be cured or lessened, but agony all the same. It's seductive reasoning, running on high and there's horniness abounding, but it must be the way most teenagers are prone to think these days. Even when Dexy is singing, "Meet me down by the soda machine/Show me now what our love means," there's an insistence in the next beat to "take my hand and sex me up," and suddenly we're drawn into a hand job fantasy or whatever have you, even with a sly, almost reference to an old-fashioned soda fountain. She sings elsewhere that "the look on your face is totally cool," and because of that "you make me feel so hot inside," and we're cast into this natural and consuming caldron of lust and desire that's as normal as can be and Magic Wands wants us to shimmy slightly to it - if only to commemorate it.