Hocus Pocus: Meet The Magic Words

The Magic Words

“Walking the Beat”  

Farm Raised Records – 2008


{Chris Fulghum: Bass}

{David Lusk: Guitars/Vocals}

{Chris Phillips: Drums/Percussion}


In deed and legend, words are a powerful thing. After all, “the pen” has long been counted as “mightier than the sword”. Even so, words are often mislaid—coming to rest, almost forgotten, among the smallest bits and pieces of our culture. But large or small, language has an almost magical ability to define everything human: laws, histories, art…and music.

So what are magic words? Abracadabra? Please-and-thank-you? Open, Sesame? Maybe magic words are no more magical than the ordinary kind. Or maybe that’s exactly why they’re magical.

Whatever the truth, The Magic Words—the band—is a potent blend of the eldritch and the everyman, though you’ll find no spells or dark secrets in music or lyrics.

Instead, I refer to pairing two things with a long history of working well together: guitar-oriented rock (with its own ready-made ancestral couplings), built on a pop-music underpinning that creates memorable song structures without sacrificing imagination.

Each of the 11 songs on “Walking the Beat” have a classic rock feel in texture or tone—and in a few memorable instances, you get both. But even when it’s an either/or situation, The Magic Words don’t slip into too many stereotypical holes; their musical influences don’t leave you with that “we’re a retro band” feel. Another translation: you might hear a track that suggests “this feels like The Police”, but it never slips out-of-bounds. It feels familiar, without ever losing its originality.


The musical textures on each track are nicely varied, though—perhaps somewhat unusually for a guitar-rock record—the bass and vocals provide as much or more variety than the guitar. This is largely accomplished by well-placed (and paced) effects processing. Overall, the textures set each track apart, with several of the more-memorable tracks well-spaced in the mix, pulling off a nice flow. This flow from one place to the next is a distinct (though not overpowering) feel that keeps the whole thing moving along.

“Café Blues” is a strong song, and gets the vote for most memorable with its well-spaced funkedelic-like tone set-off by sing-a-long lyrics: It is a welcome stop on this journey—though don’t expect to see a smile with your menu.

“Don’t fall in love with your waitress / She’s got better things to do…

 She’ll leave you high and dry / [with these] Café Blues.”

Though the band has already released a video to promote a single, “Café Blues” would be a great choice for a second run. You can almost see the waitress: bored, smacking her Dentyne as she waits on you to come up with some unique variation on a cheap come-on that she hasn’t heard 73 times already.

“Tell Me How Long…” is the most unique, with a hollow, biting distortion and effective (if somewhat run-of-the-mill) drums. The stand-out feature here is the vocals, which carry the feel of the song into a dark place. Te band’s guitarist and singer (David Lusk) might have hit with this one—and if not, well…the tone is definitely worth recycling.

Though the band is a three-piece (using the traditional guitars/bass/drums power line-up), the digital delay gives some of the guitar work an almost synth-like feel.

“Sunshine” has a nice mixture of clean guitar up front, with a distorted wah-like phase that kicks up the background. The cleaner guitar up front enhances the background fuzz instead of the other way around, and gives the song a tangy, almost country feel in places.

The Magic Words are in an interesting place in their musical development. It’s a treat to listen to a band working out the intricacies of their sound while having so much fun doing it.

“Walking the Beat” carries along a sense of movement—meandering from one place to the next, and, perhaps, going from the frying pan to the fire, then back out again. This seems to be a “theme” of the record, whether the motion is concerning relationships in turmoil, or becoming someone who someone else wants you to be and thereby leaving your own truth for a more pleasant lie. In these circumstances, a magic word would be very welcome indeed.


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