EP Review: Witchrock – Magneta Lane

The trio of women collectively known as Magneta Lane may not have found themselves tied to stakes in Salem, but they’re certainly weathered their own trials.  Bursting onto the music scene in their mid-teens — going so far as to fudge their ages higher to keep the focus on their craft — Magneta Lane seemed poised to have it all.  Fame, accolades, possibly a future packing the arenas — the sky seemed the limit after their first full-length release, Dancing With Daggers (2006).

But then the women, fronted by Lexi Valentine, found themselves prey to an unforgiving scene’s darker side.  They were too big to be hipster-cool; they also were combating labels and handlers unable to respect their voice in their careers.  Cue a hiatus, and with it, the maturity of lessons learned coupled with the good fortune of crossing paths with Finger Eleven’s Rick Jackett and James Black.  With the modern rockers at the production helm, Lexi, Nadia and French went to work creating songs that defy genre definitions and ultimately, signal the return of Magneta Lane.

ML_Album_2012_Cover_01aKicking off the quartet of tracks is melodic rocker “Burn”, a pedal-to-the-floor tune with a driving melody that begs for attention and lingers on the lips in a merry hum.  Dark and foreboding, it evokes the Celebrity Skin era of Hole:  hook-heavy, almost danceable, yet confessional and in your face in unrelenting fashion.  “Good For” is a pulsing, harmony-honeyed track evocative of Shirley Manson’s first band, Angelfish:  raw, seething and intentionally unpolished.  It works well, particularly the catchy-as-hell chorus that begs for a sing-along.

“Leave The Light On” shifts towards a classic arena rock song structure with its roller coaster crank verses plunging into straightforward pleading choruses.  Anthemic for those who defy the conventional — for better or worse.  It’s the most retro in feel, with that industrial-pop sound Depeche Mode reigns supreme at, yet also seems strangely low-key.  What matters most:  it works.

Closing track “Lucky” feels out of place in this collection, and while I enjoy the song, I find myself thinking “b-side” whenever it plays, simply because of its lack of cohesion with the preceding trio.  Veering into a pop-punk sound evocative of The Runaways or Blow It Out Your Ass era Veruca Salt, it’s a bittersweet tale of love lost and snappy spite, a parking lot “calling out” of sorts.

Witchrock is a grower:  while strong on first listen, repeated indulgence reveals the careful layers the band’s employed to develop a rich sound with staying power.  Weeks after it arrived on my iPod, I still find myself returning to the EP for a headswaying party for one.  As a Wiccan, do I find it “witchy”?  Not so much, although it certainly casts a spell.

Fall under the sway of Witchrock and welcome back Magneta Lane.

Highlight:  “Burn”

Final Grade:  A

Check out Magneta Lane’s official site, where you can acquire your own copy of the EP and stay informed on future releases and tour dates.

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