There’s a Chicago-based music group out there that isn’t interested in pushing the envelope, pioneering a new subgenre, or putting out shock value songwriting. Instead, they’ve got one priority: good, clean indie folk.
Magical Beasts is a project spearheaded by Nathan Paulus (vocals, guitar, harmonica, songwriting), and features a variety of rotating members. Ethan Pikas (pedal steel, banjo) and Josh Miller (vocals, upright bass) are the two consistent contributors. The group primarily identifies as a recording band, rarely performing live. But despite their reclusivity, Magical Beasts have taken to Indiegogo to help fund and promote their two most recent releases, both scheduled to come out on May 1st.
The first release, When Loves a Stranger, is a short and sweet EP of five songs dealing with romance, partnership, and unrequited love. The second and full length release, Peninsula, is a concept album dealing with a variety of personas who, as the band have described it, “are dead inside, devolving, or evolving.” As of March of this year the group has put out several tracks from the releases to give us a taste of what’s to come. “Someone To Lift The Blue” was rather exemplary of their talent and a personal favorite.
Lulling guitar, pedal steel, and subtle foot stamping paint a pastoral semblance of country life. Paulus’s vocals enter with an Americana flare, longing yet cathartic. Jim Becker, another contributor to the project, takes us into the heart of the Midwest with his violin. What makes the track so endearing is the thought of these performers coming home to their families in a major metropolitan area so distant from the folky roots that they so expertly sew together. As the violin crescendos into a solo and Paulus’s voice quickens and swells with emotion, we tilt our heads back. Magical Beasts have delivered a pristine package of folky reverence.
Consider stopping by their Indiegogo campaign and throwing in a couple bucks. It’s easy to sense the sincerity in their work. With almost half of their goal funded, it would be a humble internet victory to see them realize their ambitions.
- Gabe Kahan
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