Album Review: Thunderbird Divine’s Magnasonic

Thunderbird Divine’s debut full length Magnasonic, released on CD this month through Connecticut label Salt of the Earth Records, offers four tracks of spaced out stoner rock grooves that are sure to please genre enthusiasts.  But what distinguishes this Philadelphia outfit from the pack?

thunderbird divine

First of all, TBD experiments with nontraditional instrumentation right from their first moments of opening track “Qualified.”  Synth, sitar, and maybe even some theremin sneak into the tune alongside a diverse palette of clean and gritty guitar tones.  According the album credits, the recording includes electric piano, organ, synth, bouzouki, marxolin, mandolin, theremin, and noise box — what the hell is a marxolin?? — along with five different kinds of guitars played by three different band members.   (And of course drums, percussion, and bass.)  Magnasonic must have been a doozy to record and mix!

The vocals are another aspect that differentiate Thunderbird Divine in a genre with many rising bands.  They are “clean,” but with more of a tortured and throat-shredding quality than your average psychedelic rockers.  With guest vocalists listed on several tracks, I’m not sure how much of the throat-shredding belongs to lead singer Erik Caplan, but either way it’s a distinctive sound.

And finally, Magnasonic features careful arrangement that’s at odds with the gravelly truck-stop attitude of the vocals.  As I mentioned before, the thirty-one minute album is only four tracks — so each one has to tell a story.  Closer “The Devil’s Hatband,” for instance, takes listeners everywhere from a peaceful walk in the woods to last call at a crowded dive bar.  The devil indeed…

Visit Salt of the Earth’s online store to get your CD and download of Magnasonic, and be sure to catch TBD’s performance at New England Stoner and Doom Festival in May!

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PS: This is a marxolin.  Still not sure what it really “is” lol…

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