(05.2009, Drag City)
RIYL = Sonic Youth, Thee Oh Sees, PJ Harvey…kinda
Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan follow up Boss with this? [Nodding] Alright! It is pretty clear that Boss was Magik Markers first real stab more straightforward song structure and less noise (marginally). I for one was pretty excited about the evolution, which isn’t to say that I disliked Magik Markers more abstract, noisy past. No, no, I loved that stuff, but evolution is always important and Boss stirred up some genuine excitement in me about the potential avenues of these here Markers. However, Boss was just the groundwork, not the definitive statement. Just the declaration of intent – the preliminary dip. I liked it quite a bit, but I would have liked to like it a whole lot more. That is where Balf Quarry comes in as the transition from pretty good album to really good album. Maybe the Markers just need a little space from Thurston Moore and Ecstatic Peace in order to more properly rip off Sonic Youth. And I don’t say rip off in a demeaning way. The Balf Quarry version of Magik Markers is obviously a descendent of Sonic Youth and their not shy of that fact. For my taste Balf Quarry is as good as or better than anything it’s aping. Ambrogio’s demented vocal delivery is probably the deciding factor in that conclusion. I can’t think of a better front woman in all of rock. Ambrogio is simply all that. But you can't leave out Pete Nolan’s ramshackle drumming. Nolan’s loose, blistered drumming is simply irreplaceable. I don’t know of many other drummers who can derive that much character out of a drumset. The bottom line is that Balf Quarry is real rock n’ roll. Balf Quarry is as punk as it comes and the first three tracks are probably my favourite songs Magik Markers have ever done, shifting from laconic and syrupy to drug induced and feverish. It’s just so dirty; you can practically see the moldy water pipes and stripped brick walls that this stuff should be played in. Sassigrass would do well to realize Balf Quarry as the real sleaze rock.