Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stream Eric & Magill's Gorgeous, Glorious new "Night Singers" LP

By Evan Rytlewski
eric and magill
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Former Camden bandmates Eric Osterman and Ryan Weber understood that their band Eric & Magill would be a long-distance project when they started it, but they probably couldn't have predicted just how long that distance would be. In the years since their 2010 debut, All Those I Know, recorded while Osterman was in Michigan and Weber in Milwaukee, Osterman has relocated to Brooklyn and Weber to Kenya, for a two-year Peace Corps assignment in one of the country's most remote regions.

Weber described his daily routine in a recent interview. "In between work I live in a tiny cottage on a mountain overlooking the vast semi-arid plane where I write music, drink too much instant coffee, do laundry by hand, and slaughter my own chickens for dinner," he said. A gear head by nature, a trait that made him one of Milwaukee's more prominent engineers, he now records on near shoestrings. "I do the compiling of other people’s tracks, mixing and mastering “in the box” or with no outboard gear," he explained. "This allows me to be mobile and do what I love wherever I am, plus I’m a computer nerd. For me, I have a very modest set up in Kenya-USB device and a mic and that’s it. My reference speakers are probably the world’s worst speakers, which I bartered for in the local market. Power is usually out even if I wanted to use them so I generally stick with headphones."

It would have been understandable if all that distance and all those technical limitations made Eric and Magill's new sophomore album, Night Singers (their follow-up to a spring EP, Two Travelers, which they recorded before Weber's big move), a quieter, more stripped-down record than its predecessors. After all, as the title hints, this is the work of musicians recording mostly alone, often at night, and to be sure, the band hasn't completely abandoned the strummy, folky hymnals of its previous releases. But Night Singers is, as a whole, grander than anything they've attempted, especially in its opening charge of "What I Say" and "Baggage and Clothes," two blood-rushing tracks paced like Arcade Fire and M83 showstoppers. Of course, Arcade Fire and M83 have never recorded with a Kenyan choir—as on their previous releases, Osterman and Weber are aided by contributions from musician friends from all over the globe, including quite a few returning guests from Milwaukee's music scene and some new friends Weber made in Africa. Eric & Magill have always been a band of big ideas, but on this, their best album yet, they're matched with a sound that fits that ambition. It's an often jaw-dropping work from two musicians that have learned, either through experience or through distance, not to hold anything back.

You can stream Night Singers below via Bandcamp.


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