THE MAGNESIUM PIE
Like your eight-hour workday? You better. People fucking diedto bring that to you, y'know. Or perhaps you've never heard of the Haymarket Riot? Short story: Chicago, 1886. Cops order peaceful labor protest to disperse. Somebody throws a bomb. Cops and protesters die. Cops round up alleged pro-labor perps, despite lack of evidence. Sham trial. Convictions. Executions. Martyrs. Google it sometime.
There's a monument in a Chicago cemetery memorializing the five labor movement martyrs, a photo of which appears on the cover of this Magnesium Pie CD. And with an intellect-stroking title like HaymarketRevival,we only naturally assumed this was going to be filled with fist-in-the-air anthems Joe Hill would have been proud of—or at the very least include a blazing, electrified take on “The Internationale.”
But it's got none of that. Morecrassexploitationoftheproletariatbytheevilcorporatemachine!Workersoftheworld,unite!Instead, there are songs about dogs, a pretty good love song or two, a funny motel saga, paeans to stupid people, tunes with titles like “Ouch” and “Whoa” (though neither is as dumb as they might seem; “Whoa” is actually a witty-but-pained blues about not being able to get it up anymore), perturbed apolitical rants (“What was your inspiration/To play that song on the jukebox/You big piece of shit?”) and songs about the droll routine of the everyday.
No, it's not what we expected. Yet the lyrics are mostly smart—these Long Beach guys know how to spin a good yarn—and the music clinches everything, a mashing of acoustic and electric guitars, drums, MIDI meanderings, and too-brief affairs with pianos, trumpets and mandolins. The disc we got was clearly burned from a tape machine, but we love the extra hiss, static and overall grit, because that's part of the charm. No one in the MagPie is a particularly great singer, songwriter or player, but everything here feels real, shot up with soul, passion and flavor, like what maybe Jeff Tweedy would have ended up doing these days in his garage if nobody had ever heard of him.
Meanwhile, don't you feel kind of ashamed that you learned about the Haymarket Riot from reading a record review?
OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701-7417.