If nothing else, you have to give props to the The Magic Lightnin’ Boys for one thing; they have been able to make a nod to the past sound fresh and modern. Their combination of hard rock and blues should sound similar to other bands who have tried (and failed) to make this sound appealing to a generation who has heard it all, but it doesn’t. Not only does it retain a keen sense of identity at all times, it also serves as the perfect springboard for the new foursome out of Ohio. The songwriting matches that of a veteran band that have been playing together for years, and coupled with vocalist Casey Gomez’s passionate wails, it won’t be hard for them to land a strong fanbase. The funky presence of the bass throughout the entire release meshes perfectly with the organic production, especially on highlight track “Broken Dream”. Gomez emotes perfectly while reminiscing about a time that showed nothing but promise. The track takes on a slow-burning pace that explodes outward in a maelstrom of needle-sharp solos and frantic drumming at the end, and this shows the real strength of the band in general. The instruments are played in tandem, never overshadowing each other; it creates a dynamic listen that can shift from soulful and heartfelt to aggressive and boisterous. “Devil’s Lettuce” swings from a low-key, subdued soul ditty to a high-energy blues jam several times throughout the track quite naturally.
There’s certainly something to be said of the style that The Magic Lightnin’ Boys have embraced here; it hearkens back to the days when music was just a bit more simplistic. It’s a nostalgia that may not resonate with all listeners, but it will be incredibly rewarding for those who do connect to it. The inclusion of the harmonica in some songs reminds the listener of that dirty southern rock sound that the band consistently uses as an influence, but it never completely overtakes the blues sound that pervades the album. By very precisely taking these influences and injecting it with a modern approach to songwriting, the band stands at the cusp of something very exciting. The depth that the band do bring to their sound is the individual members playing with such an obvious passion coupled with the personal lyrics present throughout The Magic Lightnin’ Boys. Without the heart-rending lyrics of “Couples Skate”, it would be easy to call it the generally predictable “slow song” of the release. As it stands, it is one of the strongest vocal performances here and ranks among the best here. The most exciting track is the concluding instrumental track “Stones Throw”, which points to the band continually tweaking their formula to provide varied and interesting results. For the short amount of time that the band has been together, this is a very impressive debut that points to an ever-improving band not one bit afraid to change it up until they find their perfect sweet spot. I have no doubt that I’ll be listening to their progression until that happens; by this first release, I can’t imagine it will take much time. Soulful and passionate, The Magic Lightnin’ Boys are here to resurrect the old blues/hard rock sound and make it their own. [+]