Ex Magician

"Scan The Blue"

((Bella Union)); (Pop)

By ​Phil ​Bennett

Carrying the slow burning pop torch lit by their former outfit, Cashier No 9, Belfast duo Danny Todd and James Smith have struck a match made in glittery cloudland with their debut.

A rainbow of influences casts its glow over this wonderful record, with the sonic memories of Beck, Primal Scream, the Beatles and House Of Love ghosting around and popping up when you least expect it.

Full of smile-inducing, eyebrow-raising surprises, Scan The Blue is a trippy box of assorted candies that range from the sweet to the sour leaving you with a pleasantly savoury aftertaste, with that umami ability to make you want to come back for more.

Opening with the punky guitar riffery of Kiss That Wealth Goodbye, indications appear right from the start that the pair have moved on to a more dynamic direction.

And that they have, venturing in and out of musical territories at whim.

From the dreamy Desperado to the 60s garage fuzz bass driven The Rot Sets In and the lazy blues roll of Feet Don’t Fail, no genre is safe from exploration/exploitation.

Elsewhere, Place Your Bets is a winner on all fronts as flanged vocals cushioned on pillows of harmonies rub shoulders with chatty drums, darting guitar/synth lines and a brass riff of the type favoured by the Dandy Warhols while the gorgeously spacious title track closes proceedings like a slow gaze down an endless highway.

At times grandiose, at others simple and direct, the songs on this album are, without exception, driven by a passion and a craft that draws you in and warmly holds you there.


​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.