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Magazine Gap – Light And Shade

April 3, 2011 by  

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Magazine Gap – Light And Shade

NAME: Magazine Gap
ALBUM: Light And Shade
DATE: 14March2011

LABEL: Jackaroo Records


FIVE WORD REVIEW: Multi flavoured soulful rock pop.


LINE UP: James Keen vocals/guitar, Brian McCook drums, Alex Ho piano,Tim Gyton bass and Jason Keen guitar

Mag Gap lightandshade.jpg

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Though officially formed in 2009 the seeds of Londoners Magazine Gap began with vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter James Keen and his vision of the sound he wanted to make and from his acclaimed solo album in 2007, which featured now Gap members Brian McCook, Tim Gyton and Jason Keen, a band was really the inevitable outcome. With a varied combination of influences and musical areas from the each member, Magazine Gap decided to take the unusual decision in today’s music of making their debut album whilst on the road, using and recording in some of the world’s leading recording studios and testing the songs to live audiences during tours of the US and around the UK. This meant ‘Light And Shade’ took 18 months to see the light of day but also allowed the band to create the release using a glorious array of studios and additional session musicians bringing unique and rich flavours to the result.
‘Light And Shade’ consists of 12 songs which the band’s bio describes as eclectic pop/rock music and eclectic it is with spices of blues, jazz and funk to be found and tasted throughout its substance. The album ambles into life with ‘The Promised Land’ showing immediately creativity in songwriting and musicianship and the ability to move through genres, influences and make it something that is distinctly Magazine Gap. Here, throughout, and strikingly on the terrific ‘What’s Next’ and ‘It’s All Good’ the throbbing funk basslines of Tim Gyton fuel a throbbing groove that is hard to resist while the delightful piano ingenuity of classically trained Alex Ho brings a sophistication to compliment the guitars of the two Keens. Especially in the understated ‘Inside the Bubble’ and the more than slightly Simply Red sounding title track ‘Light & Shade,’ Ho lifts the songs to a higher level with his skill and ability to elevate simple sounds to an emotional level. The other standout elements to the album are the wonderful string and especially brass sounds, the parts well written and a major positive bringing a warm fullness to the songs.
Drummer Brian McCook produces the album with a talent and ability to combine and balance the different styles, tones and sounds into something that works well and is distinctly Magazine Gap, as well as helping to bring James Keen’s well crafted and insightful lyrics out from the mix. All great stuff it is as ‘Light And Shade’ contains strong musicianship, creative sounds and ideas, and a wonderful mix of styles and instruments but it is for me not without problems. Vocally, though strong, Keen is very similar to James Blunt and that actually negates the bands uniqueness musically especially as it is fair to say his voice is not his strongest skill. For fans of the latter it is probably an added bonus but for me it is a disappointment especially as the vocals are a major and central focus to the music. The album also closes on a bit of a downbeat as the final three tracks are very low key and though good solid songs when placed together they do not leave the listener on a high when maybe a different track order and ending on something like ‘What’s Next’ could have been better. Overall ‘Light And Shade’ is a more than solid album but just fails to ignite and though all parts are there and in quality the vital spark to excite the listener is missing.

SOUNDS LIKE: James Blunt, Simply Red and Dave Matthews Band

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You like your rock multi layered, flavoured and gently absorbing.


Submitted By Pete RingMaster



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