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Photograph: Christaan FelberHere We Go Magic

Here We Go Magic at Empty Bottle | Concert preview

Luke Temple and his Magic band are slowly turning into Radiohead.


Luke Temple blew up by landing a song on Grey’s Anatomy. But don’t hold that against him. The Massachusetts native sings with a sweet and easy falsetto that brings to mind Paul Simon, especially when it glides over acoustic guitars. Yet Temple has gone cold turkey on lite folk.

Here We Go Magic, which began as a Temple solo project on a 4-track at home, has evolved into one of America’s most unique rock bands. Globally? Not so much. A Different Ship, released last week, sounds a hell of a lot like recent Radiohead, having been produced by Nigel Godrich. “Make Up Your Mind” is the work of a mesmerizing, skewed groove band. Guitars squirm and twitch over crisp, rigid rhythms on that cut and “I Believe in Action.” The rest of the record has a mellower nautical theme, floating on undulating bass lines and aquamarine synthesizers. It’s a bit like Radiohead for Sting fans.

Pigeons, the better, prior album, struck a sweet spot between angst and bliss. The music was funkier and more skittish. Temple countered with breezy vocals that felt more personal than professional. “It’s casual,” he sighed. “Not mind shaking.”

The coffeehouse pop of his early work and the slick jazz-rock of his latest are opposite ends of the spectrum, but it’s the same adult contemporary spectrum. Pigeons—and the band’s live show—shows it’s far more Zen to sound so chill amid turbulence.

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