M.A.G.S – The Energetic Self-Titled That Upstate NY Needed

>> Elliot Douglas and his band MAGS are back in the local spotlight (and beyond) after releasing a fresh new album. Their edgy take on indie rock is a compelling new avant-garde in the alternative scene.

The Good

MAGS’ overall sound quality is constantly improving. The familiar crunch and punch they’ve defined is still present, but their parts are more refined and mature. Recording experience has clearly been kind to the group and they owe a thank you to the engineer who mastered their tracks, Dave Drago of 1809 Studios.

The track Drugs is a beautiful surprise, and has the perfect location within the album (track five of eight). It’s a lyrically deep, and instrumentally simple piece that proves Douglas is capable of shedding his prototypical energetic vibe to pick up an acoustic and get emotional. Another occurrence of this raw ability is a hidden track at the end of the track Mexico. The consistent crunchy chorus filter that gives his vocals their signature sound is absent in this track, finally solving my problem of wondering what his voice sounds like bare.

The Bad

I truly had to nit-pick this album to find anything objective to point out. The only aspect that consistently bugs me after dozens of run-throughs is a lyrical one. In the opening song, Real Talk, the first verse has a rhyming scheme of A-A-A-A-A. Based on the delivery of the final word of each phrase, the last two phrases sound fairly goofy, and the possible solution seems obvious. Douglas sings, “…go get a job with benefits (1), you stupid piece of trash (2).” My subjective brain continues to sing “…you stupid piece of shit.” over this part. It both rhymes with the scheme and feels less prude considering the overall energy of the song.

The Review

M.A.G.S. has no problem proving that their sound quality and abilities as musicians are only improving. This self-titled is a refreshing reminder that independent talent grows far and wide, and that Western NY is lucky to be harboring such a reckoning indie force. 4.8/5