Magic Bullets
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Magic Bullets

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Lying Around Forkcast"

Unlike some West Coast acts, San Francisco's Magic Bullets are notable for distinctly sounding like they're not from San Francisco. Lead singer Philip Benson's excitable yelp is comparable to Dexys Midnight Runners frontman Kevin Rowland's, and the guitar work sounds like it was taken straight from an Orange Juice A-side. They even literally wear their geographical influences on their (album) sleeves-- check out the bottles of Magners cider next to the passed-out drunkard on the cover of the "Lying Around" 7".

On "Lying Around", though, Magic Bullets aren't merely relying on good taste to get them through-- although, really, they do pretty much nail the New Pop aesthetic they're going for here-- they've got songwriting chops to show off as well. "Lying Around" would be a perfect title for an indie rock slacker anthem, but Benson's expressing desire to get off the couch instead. He chronicles the dissolution of a relationship in the first person before wailing, "Since you've been gone/ I've only been/ Lying around," with nervous energy. Guy needs to get some fresh air; good thing that delectable guitar lick arrives immediately afterward, like a whole tank of oxygen. - Pitchfork

"7.2 Pitchfork Review"

On their sophomore full-length, San Francisco's Magic Bullets take careful, well positioned steps to revive a sound that marries early 1980s UK guitar pop and 90s college rock. That specific band names will come to mind when discussing Magic Bullets is unavoidable: The Smiths and Orange Juice are obvious, as are the nods to the sunnier elements of twee.

Since these sounds tend to inspire fierce allegiance, referencing them so overtly is risky. And with Magic Bullets, you have to take into account just how close to home some of this stuff hits. Though much of the guitar work here owes at least something to Johnny Marr, it becomes troubling when some of the licks seem practically copied and pasted. At one point, "Pretend & Descend" hijacks a riff from "Bigmouth Strikes Again" with such blatant disregard, it almost feels as if it should be listed with an asterisk. And even if lead singer Philip Benson shares few vocal similarities with the likes of Morrissey or Robert Smith, he's not above taking time during the more solemn moments on the album to pout like them.

But Magic Bullets get over by being anything but a bunch of miserablists. In this sense, they take a higher road, trying to write honest-to-god pop tunes that work independent of borrowed style. So while they do adopt a sound, they mostly leave the pose behind. You'd expect a song titled "Sigh the Day Away" to feel derivatively cheeky when peppered with earnestly-spun lyrics like, "It wouldn't hurt you to smile, why not try it out for a while?" But these aren't songs in ironic disguises. Lacking the maddened melodrama and cleverness that bands like Wild Beasts subscribe to, Magic Bullets come off like straight shooters, keeping things fresh, unassuming, and unlabored.

At times here, you get a sense of a restless need to broaden the band's appeal, so that some tracks to come off as too ebullient or sugary. But these impulses are balanced with classic sounds and structures that feel balmy, wide-eyed, and genuine. We'll see if Magic Bullets eventually emerge from the shadow of their influences, but for now, it's difficult to fault these guys when the music sounds good and the gestures seem sincere.
- Pitchfork

"Baeble Summer Mix Tape"

This band out of San Francisco really knows how to bottle California with a few guitars and a very Smiths sound.

- Baeble Music

"Magic Bullets Regroup, Release New LP"

San Francisco indie pop-rockers the Magic Bullets have suffered a bit of a setback since their first album — a certain other S.F. indie band called Girls made it big and stole away some of their members. Magic Bullets are back, however, and are starting fresh with a new lineup and second full-length, out June 15th on Mon Amie Records. A sign of this fresh start is evident in the LP’s title, giving it the ol’ self-titled sophomore effort.

The band, which has been compared to the likes of Orange Juice and The Smiths and has played shows with MGMT, The Black Keys, and No Age, will go on a summer tour surrounding the release.

You can snag a 7-inch single of “Lying Around” from the Mon Amie site; it features the b-side “Thoughts of You”.

Magic Bullets 2010 Tour Dates:
05/30 – San Francsico, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
06/19 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Crepe Place
07/02 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah *
07/04 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo

* = w/ Dum Dum Girls & Crocodiles - Consequence of Sound

"Magic Bullets Line Up Sopohomore Effort"

Following what we called their “solid and charming debut,” 2007’s A Child But In Life Yet A Doctor In Love, San Francisco, CA indie poppers the Magic Bullets have remained relatively dormant the last few years. Part of that can be credited to the fact that they lost some members to hip indie stars Girls. Fortunately, they recruited some new personnel and have announced that a new full-length is just around the corner.

The album is a self-titled affair, and according to a press release, the band are still mining the Orange Juice and Cure referencing that made their first album so enjoyable. While little else is known about the record, we can report that it will be released by the new Mon Amie imprint on June 15.

? Prior to that release date, the Magic Bullets will release “Lying Around” as a seven-inch single. Backed with non-album track “Thoughts of You,” the single will drop on April 27. Stay tuned for more info as the band reveal the album tracklisting and North American tour dates.

Magic Bulltets:

1. “A Day Not So Far Off”
2. “They Wrote a Song About You”
3. “Pretend & Descend”
4. “Lying Around”
5. “Young Shoulders”
6.” Red Room”
7. “On Top of the World”
8. “A Name Sits Heaviest on My Heart”
9. “Millions of People Running Around”
10. “China Beach”
11. “Sigh the Day Away” - Exclaim!

"Flavor Pill Mixtape XXVII"

8. Magic Bullets – “Lying Around”
The slightly Blighty vocal chops, undeniably reminiscent of the Moz himself, are the first thing we notice about the new track from this San Francisco jangle-pop outfit. Despite losing some members to some local Girls, the band will release a self-titled full-length on June 15th. - FlavorWire

"Magic Bullets New Album Out June 15th 2010!"

One of the most exciting albums to come out this summer for us will be the new album by San Francisco's The Magic Bullets. With a leg in a cast last year for San Francisco's Pop Festival, even lead singer Philip Benson couldn't sit down for the group's exhilarating live performance. Corey Cunningham (lead guitar, songwriter) and Benson have been working together since 2004 with their group, which technically doesn't make them new by any means; but with their unmistakable influences (cross The Smiths with The Bodines), and strong songwriting, the hard-work they put into their Mon Amie label debut should put them squarely onto your radar for upcoming releases to keep an eye out for. - Girl About Town

"Magic Bullets Drop First Single Off Second Album"

The six-man post alternative/indie rock outfit Magic Bullets is soon to be illuminating the music world again with their second full-length release, the self-titled Magic Bullets.
The new joint due June 15th, features the bittersweet track “Lying Around,” which is also available as a 7” single from the band’s Brooklyn-based label, Mon Amie’s website.
Although the band has undergone a slight lineup shift, that lip-bitingly sublime voice of Phillip Benson can still be heard pairing with the band’s precision-riddled sonic craftwork that rounds out the band’s sound.
“Lying Around” maintains that earnest swagger of A Child In Life, Yet A Doctor In Love, hosting Benson’s apathetic lyrics behind a bubbly syncopation of indie-pop riffage, and an awesome drum cadence.
The single will also feature a non-album B-side, “Thoughts of You,” and the band is currently planning a summer outing to coincide with the release of the new record. We’ll keep you posted! - Green Shoe Lace

"Magic Bullets Release “Lying Around”; Self-Titled Album Due June 15th"

Three years from the release of A Child But In Life Yet A Doctor In Love and rearing to put forth their second and self-titled LP, San Francisco’s Magic Bullets have offered up “Lying Around” as the album’s first single. Despite the lengthy wait, the Bullets stay true to their brand of Morrissey/Echo and The Bunnymen-inspired pop rock, and the aforementioned 7? is certainly verification of just that. Phil Benson flutters his voice to and fro in familiar fashion as he begs listeners not to “ act like I’m untrue,” while guitarist Corey Cunningham gracefully wrists his way through licky chord changes. And again, as per usual, Colin Dobrin turns in a more-than-stellar performance behind the kit, lending the bounce to which Benson and fans alike can’t help but pogo.

Look for Magic Bullets on June 15th courtesy of Mon Amie Records, and catch the group live at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill May 30th. - Hi Fi Hangover

"Magic Bullets - Magic Bullets (album review)"

Magic Bullets’ newest album is jangly pop masterpiece with a decent chance of getting you to sit up in your chair and ask ‘How have I not listened to this before?’ As a newer band on a smaller label, Magic Bullets hasn’t had much of a chance to develop a following, but with such an earnest and pleasant sound they’re sure to be more than a few people’s favorite band by the end of the year.

The 2010 San Francisco meets 1980’s Manchester sound comes dangerously close to being an all-out Smiths rip off at times, but it’s done with such sincerity and charm they can’t exactly be faulted for it. It’s like the group discovered a secret unreleased Smiths album from 1983 that they’ve finally decided to share. ‘Magic Bullets’ isn’t just a Morrssiey/Marr tribute album, however. There’s plenty of that San Francisco sound in there; it’s a little bit retro, has a lo-fi vibe, and would feel just right on the same bill as your favorite local psych outfit.

This isn’t to say the album is perfect. For a pop group, the mix and recording seem a touch too slapdash. The hint of lo-fi isn’t quite pronounced enough to make it worth it, and is an unfortunate diminution the quality of the record. I haven’t seen them live, but based on their sound alone, I’d imagine this is one of those bands to see up close and personal. Luckily, all you California folks have the opportunity to see them as they make their way up and down the coast in early July. The final verdict on Magic Bullets? Buy their album, see them live, and let them be your new favorite band. - Indie Shuffle

"Magic Bullets: The Bay Bridged Interview"

This week, The Bay Bridged showcases San Francisco's Magic Bullets, whose second full length album, Magic Bullets, came out yesterday on Mon Amie Records. The band's first record, a CHILD but in life yet a DOCTOR in love, came out in 2007, and introduced a refreshingly catchy jangle pop sound calling to mind bands like The Smiths, The Feelies, Talking Heads, and Orange Juice. Over the next several years, the Bullets focused on writing and recording, gaining an EP, but losing two band members to Girls. That setback aside, the Bullets are now back and, yes, they sound better than ever. Guitarist Corey Cunningham has crafted a batch of dynamic songs that showcase both a minimalist restraint and a broader array of tempos, feels, and sounds. Singer Phil Benson remains a magnetic vocal presence, delivering heartfelt thoughts on love and romance. Fans of indie pop, DO check this album out.

The Bay Bridged recently sat down with the members of Magic Bullets to discuss their new album. Four songs from the new self-titled album are included in the episode. - KQED

"Album Review: Magic Bullets - 'Magic Bullets'"

While the self-titled second album by Magic Bullets begins with a squeal of guitar feedback, seconds later the noise dissipates to reveal an album shining with pop effervescence rather than clouded by tumultuous squalls. On the leadoff track, “A Day Not So Far Off,” the San Franciscan band races through a fetching batch of breakneck guitar jangle that recalls The Bats’ best work (e.g. “Made Up in Blue”). For the remainder of the record, though, it’s Orange Juice that comes to mind, singer Philip Benson’s warbly croon recalling that of Edwyn Collins, just as the band’s smooth mix of soul touches and post-punk pop is also reminiscent of Glasgow’s finest. But while those points of reference may be lost on some people, the Magic Bullets’ persuasive musical charms surely won’t. “Red Room” bounds atop a springy bassline, while “A Name Sits Heaviest on My Mind” mixes piano and acoustic guitar into a sprightly concoction that highlights Benson’s vocal talents. The band apparently lost a couple members to competing Bay Area band Girls in the interim between the band’s 2007 debut, A Child But in Life Yet a Doctor in Love, and this record, but they don’t seem to have suffered in the slightest for it. - Limewire

"Corey Cunningham of the Magic Bullets Carries a Torch for The Feelies"

Corey Cunningham’s recommendation: “I always have a thing I tell people when I talk to them about this group: No band has ever made such a perfect and complete discography. Even The Beatles had their Let It Be. But not The Feelies. Every record is as good as the last. And, most surprisingly to me, every record almost sounds like it could have been recorded the same year as the last. How many artists have a 16-year, 4 album career that is seemingly untouched by the trends of the time? They made it seem easy and so exciting. Yet if you’ve ever tried to rite a song that sounds like The Feelies you’ll find it a good bit harder than expected. They built a vocabulary that was smart, that came from so many others – Velvet Underground, Modern Lovers, the first Talking Heads. Yet what they did was so Feelies-like it could never be duplicated.

I know what you’re thinking.. their covers of other artists, right?

Surely that’s a blemish on this perfect discography (all but one of their four albums contains at least one cover). But to me their renditions always redefine the song and often surpass the original. I can’t count the number of crummy, pointless covers that bands often feel inclined do. The Feelies played them as if they were theirs all along.

And when I say their whole discography I’m including their side-projects as well. Listen to Yung Wu, The Trypes, and The Willies. Same quality control. Same use of tasteful restraint. But not exactly the same band. I still think that Yung Wu album is one of the best albums of 1987.

My biggest debt to them though? I learned what to do on stage from watching a video of them live at Maxwell’s from 1979. What moves!” - Rock Torch

"Do Magic Bullets Sound More Like The Smiths or The Pretenders?"

When music director Alexandra Patsavas picks an indie band for The O.C., Gossip Girl or most recently, the Twilight soundtrack, a rise in its fame is practically guaranteed. When she listed San Francisco's Magic Bullets as one of her favorite bands and featured its music on Gossip Girl., people began posting Magic Bullets songs on Youtube. Today Magic Bullets' second album, Lying Around comes out, putting Patsavas' influence to the test.

Corey Cunningham, Magic Bullets' songwriter and only remaining guitar player (the other left for the indie rock band Girls) told All Shook Down that he was displeased with the band's first album, but is happy to report that Lying Around comes closer to his ideal sound. In the spirit of candidness, he blew his cover and revealed his secret identity as a downtown grocery store employee. But he insists that there's no self-promotion taking place when he's working there alongside Magic Bullets' singer Philip Benson, or while eating pho at Turtle Tower in the Tenderloin.

The new album comes out Tuesday. How do you feel?
Corey Cunningham: I'm so excited. It's taken forever to get this to happen.

How long have you been working on it?
CC: The recording itself only took a weekend. But we've been writing material for a couple years. It was weird because we lost a couple of members and we had to rewrite songs.

Is the sound on the new CD a lot different than your past recordings?
CC: I think so. By the time our first album came out, we didn't even sound the same anymore. The new CD is a lot more reflective of the kind of music we like. At the same time, we didn't really set out to sound like anyone.

You guys are always compared to The Smiths. How do you feel about that?
CC: I think they're a great band. It's really flattering, but there's maybe a couple songs where I could say, "Oh, I see the comparison." Overall, I think the sound of the album comes from a lot of places. I would probably say we sound more like The Pretenders on some songs than The Smiths.

Are you even fans of The Smiths then, or is that reference out of left field?
CC: It's not necessarily out of left field, but it's not something we consciously did. It's funny -- when I was writing some of the riffs, I may have absorbed some of Johnny Marr's influences coincidentally, because I like Nile Rodgers [of Chic]. But I never emulated them specifically.

What about getting referred to as "80s post-punk"?
CC: We get that tag a lot. I like the mid-'80s English pop groups, but not so much the post-punk. I feel like people just throw that term around. It can mean so many things. Pitchfork called us "New Pop," which I thought was a nice tag. I've heard the tag before in reference to Haircut 100, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice.

Did you plan what kind of sound you wanted to have, or did it just happen?
CC: The only thing I remember us sitting down and throwing out there was that we wanted to get more playful. That first album is pretty straightforward, and it's not that complex melodically. We wanted to sound more mature in that department.

Are you satisfied with your first album?
CC: When we were recording it, it was piecemeal and it was a lot of material that was battered over the three years before we had recorded it. I was never happy with it when it came out. It didn't sound like the kind of music that we liked. It seemed like a document of what we sounded like at the time, for better or worse. But my instinct said worse on that one [laughs].

You've been featured on Gossip Girl and other TV shows. Did you actually watch the episodes with your songs?
CC: I remember the first time we were ever on a TV show. I sat down and I was really excited, and I couldn't even hear the song in the show because people were having dialogue while the song was going on. It was super anticlimactic. I think it was Ghost Whisperer. But it's kind of cool that I get to see these shows for the first time usually. I don't watch a lot of TV.
I've read that the band is from San Mateo and San Francisco. Can you clear that up?

CC: We're from the Bay Area, because Phil, myself and the new drummer live in San Francisco. Everyone else -- the other two guys -- live on the Peninsula in San Carlos. But everyone is from the Peninsula except for me. I'm the only one who's not from California. I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee -- Music City.

Did that influence your sound at all?
CC: Actually, there's one part of the album where I did a country thing, on the next-to-last song called "China Beach." There's a steel guitar sound which I did on guitar, because I don't own a steel guitar. But I emulated it.

How do you like San Francisco?
CC: I love it. I haven't been to Tennessee in years. Whenever I go somewhere, and I'm thinking to myself, 'I want to go back home,' home is San Francisco. I love to shop at Grooves. That's one of my favorite record stores. My favorite place to eat is Turtle Tower. It's a Vietnamese place. Oh my God, it's so good.
Do you have any other job, or is it strictly music?

CC: I work at a grocery store during the day. It's in Downtown actually. Our bass player teaches music classes for kids. Our singer also works with me at the store. Our keyboard player - I don't think he's working right now. And our drummer works at a lab at UC Berkeley.

Are you planning music together in the grocery store?
CC: No [laughs]. We try not to talk about it too much. It's sort of like having a secret identity.

What are you most excited for people to hear on Lying Around?
CC: I'm really excited for people to hear the very first song and to see how different it is from the first record. We snuck in a distorted feedback guitar track, which catches people off guard. It's funny, because every time I play it for people, they think they're about to listen to a metal album or a garage album. People are always so confused when they hear that.
Is there anything else that you want people to know?

CC: There's a B-side on the 7-inch that I really like. I think it might be the best of the songs that we've recorded. It's called "Thoughts of You." - SF Weekly

"Stream All of Magic Bullets"

There's really no more subtle way to say this: San Francisco's Magic Bullets sound a helluva lot like the Smiths. We mean that as reportage, not commentary; there's lots to like about this band's smooth, delicate tunes. Magic Bullets' new album, Lying Around, comes out Tuesday, but you can stream the whole brooding, sentimental thing on Spinner now. If you start thinking Morrissey and Marr are back together, though, don't say we didn't warn you.
- SF Weekly

"It's Magic Bullets"

Someone has clearly forgotten to tell Magic Bullets that we're in the 21st century, because their self-titled album, is clearly the best thing to come out of 1987 that I've ever heard. Sounding something like Monochrome Set, Orange Juice, Wedding Present, and pretty much anything residing around the jangly warehouses of British pop bands of that era, Magic Bullets are a lost treasure from another time that's just been uncovered by pop archaeologists. Listening to Magic Bullets is like unearthing a time capsule and finding the entire Cherry Red catalog in it; quaint, unusual, and amazing all at the same time.

Embracing arty pop, soulful vocals, and more jangle than legally allowed in 2010, Magic Bullets are an awesome sight to behold and listen to. This is a band that clearly has no idea that Baggy, Britpop, Post Post Punk, Electro, Indie Rock or anything else even exists and the songs they write sound as though they're covered in Doc Martens, Gladioli, and button down cardigans. Magic Bullets is a classic without being a day over a year old, a lost treasure without ever being lost, a rare gem in a sea of diamonds.. This is a truly exceptional stuff that has just about left me speechless. I LOVE this album because it sounds so pure, so simple and so, so good. This is just indie the way indie was always meant to be and it's fantastic.

Lovelorn, heartbroken, and lost Magic Bullets sound frustrated and confused about love and life and the time and it makes for some darn fine songs as a result. With titles that sound like they're from the David Gedge Anthology of Jangly POP Anthems the songs are daft and adorable at the same time. With titles like, "They Wrote A Song About You," "A Name Sits Heaviest On My Heart," and "Sigh The Day Away," you can see what I mean and how you can't help but create a mental picture of this group and the troubles they're going through. This is teenage angst run through a Morrissey dictionary and played with enough weeping sincerity that you want to give the band a hug and buy them a beer.

Magic Bullets is amazing. I'm sitting here speechless at how this band has tapped into something that was popular twenty three years ago and nailed it and the fact that they're American makes it even more shocking. This is the kind of eighties revival I want to hear more of and the kind I wish would capture the imagination of music fans everywhere. Magic Bullets are a stupendous band and their self-titled album is just about the best thing I've heard this year. Wow...this is heck of a band and one heck of an album that really has me wondering if time travel isn't possible. - The POP! Stereo

"Good News From The West Coast: New Wave Is Still Alive A La Magic Bullets"

With it’s pulsating rhythms, shimmering guitars, methodical bass coursing behind the urgent vocals of lead singer Phillip Benson, “Lying Around” displays the band’s charming New-Wave influence, and their undeniable ability to cut their own sound out of it. The song captures that moment when you realize the bittersweet nature of your own good fortune and turns it into danceable pop, heartfelt and sly at the same time. I liked the damn thing so much I went out and downloaded the rest of their short-playing catalogue from iTunes including a single, “The Upstairs Flight”, and their EP, “Lives for Romance”.

The good news is that all of their other songs are just as ear catching, deepening their sonic tendencies to 80s post-punk, jangly indie-pop, and angular, progressive measures akin to the Talking Heads with obvious nods to the Smiths. (I’ve posted some of my proprietary selections below.) - Slayshtank

"Advance Listen: Magic Bullets"

This week, SF brit pop outfit, Magic Bullets, have their sophomore self-titled album available to stream in its entirety at an AOL Spinner Listening Party. - AOL Spinner


2007: A Child But In Life Yet A Doctor In Love (Words on Music)
2008: Spaceland and Part Time Punks Present: Magic Bullets (Kufala)
2009: Lives For Romance (self released)
2010: Lying Around 7" (Mon Amie)
2010: Magic Bullets (Mon Amie)



Magic Bullets began as as a side project of a full time band in Redwood City, CA in 2004. What started as a lark became the main focus and the driving force for core members for years to come.

In early 2007 the band released an album's worth of recordings collected over the span of the three years since the band's conception. Their first full length “A Child But In Life Yet A Doctor In Love” was released on Minneapolis’ Words on Music.

Numerous tours of the states followed, finding the band as far East as New York and showcased at Austin's SXSW music festival in 2008. Magic Bullets played with some of their favorite old and new acts including Pylon, A Certain Ratio, Section 25, The Raincoats, No Age, Wild Beasts, The Walkmen, and MGMT.

Magic Bullets opted to self-release their second recording, a four song 12" titled "Magic Bullets Lives For Romance". “Lives for Romance” saw a dramatic maturation of the band’s sound from “A Child…” and despite various lineup changes, shining reviews for the EP encouraged the band to continue writing songs for a second album.

Whereas the first full length was somewhat haphazardly compiled, this new record was to be a better-envisioned and more deliberate effort.

2010's Magic Bullets (Mon Amie Records) exposes the band for what they are: a seasoned group who's seen its ups and downs and yet somehow ends up the better for it.