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Magic Rockers of Texas: Great Bar Bands are Still a Thing

Posted by April 2nd, 2022 No Comments »

By Paul Stinson

In a city overpopulated by bars and bands, Austin five-piece Magic Rockers of Texas (MROT) are keeping the endangered bar band species (Lone Star Beerus Maximus) from the brink of extinction.
With more than an album’s worth of recorded material ready to let loose following 2017’s Rugged Braids EP, the Texas ten-armed rock attack is a see-saw of guitar-driven fury and corner booth confessionals, vaulting between dynamic introspection and high-voltage post cards from the living room.

The band’s raw, devil-may-care approach has earned them a dedicated following, packing out an August residency with their avalanche of driving guitar with twinges of twang, punctuated by indie rock flourishes. During SXSW, they played a handful of unofficial shows and were called in last-minute to open for festival buzz band Yard Act after another local band had to drop.
Fall 2021 single “Sleeping on the Couch” is a feel-good song with a feel-bad mea culpa: “it’s not you/it’s me, you caught me at a real bad time,” building and paying off with catchy vocal hooks like a toe-tapping medium-spicy mosh pit should.

At times, MROT’s songwriting spectrum elicits hints of Let It Be or Tim-era Replacements, including artfully executed covers –namely a paint-peeling rendition of Tanya Tucker’s of “Texas (When I Die),” and a beautifully bellicose and dynamic take on Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams.”

To be fair, Magic Rockers stick the landing with their fractured covers in a manner more in line with an Afghan Whigs homage than a send-up by Minneapolis’ most-famously functional dysfunctional band.

And while Austin’s cultural riches include no shortage of catchy songs, rare are the rock outfits that end an evening with a signature set-closer. Rarer still are the ones where the audience lends their voice to the song’s refrain, transforming frontman Jim Campo’s delivery of “Words in a Bin” into the best kind of drive-by karaoke.

The nearly five-minute effort at making peace with things undone is a balm-turned-rallying anthem for those smitten with –and eventually liberated from– the cold-blooded reptile once central to their lives.

It’s all I can do to keep moving forward I write my thoughts down, they’re only words in a bin/Got to drive around on town on holidays and weddings/Sometimes I pass our street and tell myself: you don’t miss me ‘cause you don’t miss nothing/you don’t see me, ‘cause you don’t see nothing/you don’t love me, ‘cause you don’t love nothing … at all.

It’s European stadium rock at Austin dive bar prices. You can find an acoustic version of the song here. You’ll have to either visit Austin or stitch the collected works of Proust onto a throw pillow until the full-band version comes out. It’ll be worth the wait.

Austin has its share of show-stopping songs delivered by exceptional bands. This is one of those instances. One hundred and four degrees degrees in August and you want me to leave my air-conditioning? Magic Rockers playing at Hole in The Wall? See you there.

SXSW SixPack is a yearly series of unapologetic enthusings/profiles on bands that need to be seen and heard by more people.

Paul Stinson is Nada Mucho’s Austin Music Correspondent. Formerly a Texas and Oklahoma statehouse correspondent for a major news organization, Stinson is plotting his next move and can be found lurking in Austin’s music shadows and Casino El Camino burger joint. Or playing with his cats Olive and Piko.

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