There are records that are quiet and records that are loud; records that are mellow and records that are rowdy. On their latest album, Magik Markers exhibit those characteristics all at one time, and that applies to every song on Surrender to the Fantasy, their first full-length in four years.
Elisa Ambrogio doesn't whisper or scream, but she feels what she sings, so you have to engage with it—with her—her on some level. She isn't there to serve as the soundtrack to your quiet night at home. Or your raucous dance party.
It's punk and it's blues, but it isn't punk blues. No one would mistake the Hartford, Connecticut* trio for the Black Keys or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and not just because Ambrogio doesn't sound anything like Spencer or Dan Auerbach, but because Magik Markers' hazy, narcotized approach to the blues hues closer to Live Skull or Psychic Ills, with the exception of the clattering "Bonfire."
* My hometown. I wish groups like this had been around when I was a kid.
Since their formation in 2001, the band has toured with Sonic Youth and worked with Thurston Moore, who signed them to Ecstatic Peace, and Lee Ranaldo, who produced 2007's Boss, and I can hear an affinity between both outfits, but more in terms of SST-era Sonic Youth than anything they recorded for DGC.
After bassist Leah Quimby left in 2006 to pursue a career as a ventriloquist, Ambrogio and drummer Pete Nolan carried on as a duo. Since then, they've released several albums, including Balf Quarry with guitarist Ben Chasny, but John Shaw joined in time for the new record, which they recorded in J. Mascis's attic and Ambrogio's father's basement. So, even though they've graduated from self-released CD-Rs, they still adhere to a DIY aesthetic—and it serves them well.
Surrender to the Fantasy is out now on Drag City (orig release date: Nov 19).