You don’t have to know who T.W. Samuels is to appreciate Austin’s Magic Rockers of Texas, but their appeal is immediate if you do. If you don’t know who any of these people are let me put it this way: Imagine Gram Parsons survived to hear more punk rock, spent another decade self-loathing and self-destructing in a dive bar, and recorded an album with Alex Chilton blacked out on well whiskey—that record probably would have sounded a lot like Magic Rockers of Texas’ new LP Life is a Bowl of Cherries. . . And All I Got Was Stems!
Magic Rockers’ frontman Jim Campo doesn’t just sound like a weary millennial reincarnation of the aforementioned power pop and country rock legends, but he inherited their curse of unacknowledged greatness. For the last decade, he’s played with some of ATX’s best bands including Slomo Drags, A. Sinclair, Berkshire Hounds, and Go Fever, to name just a few, but among them, Magic Rockers aren’t talked about nearly enough despite their tenure in the local circuit. It doesn’t help that this is their first full-length album since forming nearly ten years ago, but the infrequent releases are understandable. It’s hard living, man.
“Slomo Cancer” is like waking up hungover for a session of emotional self-flagellation; as if you were suddenly hit with a moment of brutal clarity about what’s wrong with your life. An unfair unkindness one may feel compelled to self-inflict after a night with Mr. T.W. Samuels. The title Life of a Bowl of Cherries. . . And All I Got Was Stems! suggests an album full of absurdity, jokes, and self-deprecating lyrics, and sure, those things are present, but they’re a shield for a heartbreaking tenderness buried beneath the surface.
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