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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

The Tourniquet (CD)

I must admit that when I first got this disc I thought it was a Magnet Magazine compilation. It's actually a BAND called Magnet and is basically made up of Even Johansen of Bergen, Norway. Yep, that Bergen. The one that has had a lot of good music coming out of it for quite awhile.

Anyhow, once I got past the fact this wasn't a compilation I started to really enjoy The Tourniquet (the album has already been released basically everywhere but the U.S. where it is scheduled to be out in February on Filter). Johansen combines the music toy shop qualities of bands like The Eels and Sparklehorse with the sweet bedroom bliss of Badly Drawn Boy. What makes this album stand apart from similar ones is that the songs actually sound like they could be played on normal radio and the vocals are much more expansive and melodic. I had a hard time pinning down who exactly he sounds like, but I could say that his voice reminded me variously of Thom Yorke, Travis, and maybe Jeff Hanson without the high altitude falsetto. He has an aspirated and airy quality to his voice. In any case, the vocals tie in surprisingly smoothly with the music.

The songs alternate from dreamy pop with a hint of an 80s feel to them like on "Deadlock" and "Believe", to strange little bedroom ditties like "The Pacemaker" and "Hold On" that have electronic quirks and blips in them that have much in common with The Album Leaf. Magnet occasionally strays into a country-rock feel but always returns to familiar pop territory within a chorus or two. Although the track I always seem to hear online is the Sting-Fields-of-Gold soundalike "Jaws", the highlight of the album may be "Miss Her So" a beautiful and poignant acoustic guitar tune haunted with strange echoed keyboards and Johansen quietly whispering in your ear.

- review by SHORTY (1.24.06)        

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