Song of the day: Magnus Sörensen & The Captains Inc – "When You’re Not Around"

June 28, 2013

I’ve recently received a barrage of emails from musicians wanting me to mention them on this blog. Woohoo!

In one respect this is a boon: I don’t have to choose songs for the blog. The songs have been chosen for me. Woohoo!

However, one unintended disadvantage of having quite a few songs and albums to listen to is this: If I do what I usually do – namely, getting nitpicky about minute details of each song I listen to – it’s going to take me way too long to get them on to the blog.

What I’m going to have to do is engage in a bit of speed-listening. I’ll listen to all the songs that have come my way, but I won’t listen to each track at least three times. Most importantly, I’ll keep my written interference to a minimum. Or at least try to.

Okey dokey.

Magnus Sörensen is a Swedish chap from Sweden, and he has an album called, er, something. Hang on, I saw it here somewhere…

Ah, yes. The album is called Love In A Mixtape, and it’s credited to Magnus Sörensen & The Captains Inc. It has seven tracks on it, so that makes it a mini-album – unless one of the tracks is extra long (like a prog rock track, for example). Nope. All seven tracks come to a total of 31:46. I guess that barely qualifies as an album. Maybe. (But still, when I see seven tracks, I see a mini-album.)

Right.

Time to listen.

Magnus Sörensen & The Captains Inc – Love In A Mixtape (2013)

1. “Breathe Easy”

A tinkly introduction and we’re away (after 17 seconds). In slightly roots rock territory. Sort of. Or is it country pop? Who knows? Whatever it is, it’s pleasant. And mild. While it’s on, I’m not loving it – but I’m not loathing it either. Unfortunately, I’m not especially fond of Magnus’ vocal inflections. The way he says the words “back” (0:32) and “up” (0:39) are a bit disconcerting. (I don’t know know why he needed to say those words the way he did.) And I thought his pronunciation of “track” at 0:37 was nasal and monotonous. However, when Magnus’ voice goes into a higher register (from 0:45 onwards), things became much more agreeable. When the chorus arrives (at 1:01), the vocal melodies and harmonies are very nice, but I think the chorus is hampered by a fairly ordinary chord progression.

Overall, despite the niceties I found the song slightly underwhelming. Unfortunately, whilst listening to this song I had a distinct case of the heard-it-all-befores.

2. “House Of Cards”

Excellent. The guitar at the beginning of this reminds me of two songs: Van Halen‘s “Little Guitars” (1982)…

(The reminiscent guitar part starts at 1:32)

…and David Lee Roth‘s “Goin’ Crazy!” (1986):

After 15 seconds of the guitar introduction, Magnus and the rest of the band come in, and it’s more interesting than Magnus’ the previous song.

Apart from it not being my kind of music, there’s very little for me to complain about with “House Of Cards”. Although I will moan about that filtered voice from 2:29-2:59. Pointless. And I’ll have a little grumble at the descending guitar lick in the solo (2:10-3:13). I didn’t like the choice of notes. (I much preferred the descending guitar lick at the end of the solo, 3:25-3:28.)

3. “What About You?”

And the reminders continue.

The guitar at the start of this one reminded me of the guitar at the start of Crowded House‘s “Something So Strong“:

The way this song starts also reminds me of Magnus’ previous song, “House Of Cards”. “What About You?” also has a 15-second guitar introduction before the band kicks in. With the first song, “Breathe Easy”, it was a 17-second guitar introduction. I hope all of Magnus’ songs don’t start this way.

Anyway, back to “What About You?”.

There’s a suspicious-sounding vocal note-jump at 0:36, when Magnus sings “I LEFT my old ways…”. Was that a bit of Auto-Tune?

This is another slightly roots-y/country-y song. I’m finding it pleasant but unremarkable. Having typed that, I want to point out that this song is very well made. Everything about it oozes quality. It just doesn’t appeal greatly to my particular tastes in music.

4. “When You’re Not Around”

Another one that starts with a bit of something before the band comes in. This time it’s 14 seconds of an introduction. Magnus sure does like to introduce his songs.

It’s musical coincidence time:

Compare the vocal melody in the verses of “When You’re Not Around” (e.g., 0:28-0:31) to the main vocal melody of The Hollies‘ “Jennifer Eccles” (e.g., 0:07-0:11):

I think “When You’re Not Around” is a good example of the kind of music Magnus plays – i.e., rootsy pop.

Although I’m not loving this song, I am enjoying the sound of the distorted guitar in the left channel.

5. “Solid Ground”

Yet another non-band introduction before the band appears. (This time it’s 11 seconds.) Grrr. But the introduction did contain something I enjoyed: a gleefully sliding note from the guitarist at 0:07.

Polite Note To Magnus: Can I have a bit of variety in how your songs start?

Once the seemingly obligatory introduction is out of the way, the song becomes a jaunty little thing, with a few “bup-ba-da”s thrown in for good measure.

6. “Growing Up / Growing Old”

Regarding the variety of the song introductions: I guess not. It’s a 19-second introduction this time.

A more-country-than-pop song.

I’m definitely not enjoying the sound the bass player’s making. (Tech Talk: It sounds like a combination of low action and the bass player playing too close to the neck, resulting in the listener – i.e., me – hearing more of the pickups and frets than the notes.)

Although this song is a pleasant and potentially relaxing country-ish thing, it does contain high-level verbal rudeness. If you’re at work, you will definitely not want to be playing this song around 3:27-3:29.

7. “Go, Went, Gone”

A 15-second introduction. So that makes it seven out of the seven songs on this mini-album that start similarly.

After the introduction, this song moves in a low-key and stealthy way (with a bit of twang at 0:57-0:59) until it arrives at…

1:40-2:09 – an upbeat chorus.

And then it’s back to the stealthy verse, slowly building to…

2:51-3:19 – another upbeat chorus.

Then it’s a middle eight.

Then it’s a guitar solo.

And then it’s the chorus repeating until the song fades out.

***

And that’s what I thought of Magnus’ mini-album.

Oh, and one last thing about the album. Now that I’ve listened to it, I’d like to say that I think the album cover (see above) is incredibly non-indicative of the music I heard. To me, the artwork looks suitable for anything but a country pop album. Indie goth emo metal, yes. Country pop, no.

Thanks, Magnus, for letting me know about Love In A Mixtape.

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