Magik Markers, 'Balf Quarry' (Drag City)

Critical Mass
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by SPIN Staff

With a title that name-checks their hometown Hartford, Connecticut's traprock mines and a cover that features carved stones from outsider art totem Palais Idéal, Magik Markers' attempt to deconstruct "rock" is evident. Percussionist Pete Nolan sprays both formless and staccato outbursts all around singer-guitarist Elisa Ambrogio as she navigates a fine line between artless singing, hardcore invective, and trenchant beat poetry. She renders a sad refrain from a lotto ad on "State Numbers," slags CSNY on "The Lighter Side of...Hippies," and howls that "a loving woman can have the Devil's face" on the acerbic "Don't Talk in Your Sleep," making this the duo's most shambolic effort to date.

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