Magneta Lane Takes Control Of Its Own Fate

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

In every young band's career, the honeymoon period between label and group after the first contract signing is always an important one. After the signature dries on the dotted line, there is tremendous excitement; the band is getting their dream shot and will do the best they can to adhere to the instruction of the far more seasoned veterans both at the label's office and, while they're in the studio, the record producers with whom they work. Things tend to come together easily in that early period because, really, the proverbial rose's bloom is bright and the young band in question will do whatever they're told to succeed. As the young band learns the ropes, grows more experienced and gets a better handle on how the business works, they also begin to ask for more control over how their music is presented. Why wouldn't they? Such is the point that Magneta Lane reached when they began work on their third full-length record, the ominously entitled Gambling With God, according to singer Lex Valentine. “If you could see how much has gone on since we put out Dancing With Daggers in 2006, it'd shock you,” laughs the singer at her recollections of the band's early going. “We were in a completely different place; I think we were just so overwhelmed at that time with the workload and everything that our heads were just spinning. Then we came to a point where we had to make all these decisions in 2006 and after we got back from the chaotic tour we were on then, we had some time to ourselves and we started to wonder what we were going to do.

Gambling With God is all about that; it was about gambling with the choices that we had,” continues the singer. “We took some time off and, when we came back, it felt like we were starting over again and that was fine with us; we want to be happy with what we're doing and we want to remain grounded enough in it that we still feel completely sane and happy with ourselves as people.”

With that joint assertion made, Magneta Lane began taking control of their own career – and started with Gambling With God. This time out, according to Valentine, the final word has been the band's own from the beginning of the Gambling With God recording sessions to end of them and beyond; they're still taking control and learning more about every facet of their business from booking to promotion – and even have the added backing of a new record label, Last Gang. “It took a while and we went into the studio with Jon Drew [of Broken Social Scene and Arts & Crafts fame –ed] and the thing that I really liked about him was the attitude he took while we were in the studio,” says the singer with confidence. “He took the attitude of 'Okay, you girls know what you want, I'm here to produce and maybe talk some sense into you if you're getting off track. This is your record, so you tell me what you want.' He let us be really creative and free; more so than we had been on previous releases. We wrote all our own music before, but we were sort of indifferent to what we wanted; we just wanted to get it down and get it out. This time we were really involved with the recording process – we'd tell him when we wanted a certain part to sound like this and another part to sound like this what needed tweaking and so on and so forth – and we got exactly what we wanted at the end of the day.”

In saying that Gambling With God was “exactly what [they] wanted,” Valentine also illustrates that the band has an uncanny knack for playing to their strengths. The difference between Gambling With God and both of the albums that Magneta Lane released prior to it [The Constant Lover in 2004 and Dancing With Daggers in 2006 –ed] registers immediately as “Lady Bones” opens the record; with a grace in place that makes lines like “Here I go again /Trying to defend all the things I love” seem almost off-handed in their delivery, Valentine sets a perfect contrast between her easy melodic stance and the her instrumental backing that sounds tight, polished and mildly aggressive. The guitars present with a well-contained center (Valentine is their master) while the drums and bass supplied by Nadia King and French respectively propel the song along on concussive licks.

It's disarmingly solid and the band gives the impression that it's also disarmingly easy as they rattle through it.

From there, Magneta Lane keeps one foot on that base at all times – even when they do decide to amp things up (“Violet's Constellations” and “House Of Mirrors” are both good examples) or scale back the scruffy trappings (as they do on “September Came”) – to make sure they always know the way back if they need it but, the truth is that they don't need it at all – not really. Songs like the title track, “Love And Greed” and “Queen Of Hearts” all showcase the fact that Magneta Lane has grown nicely into their own skin here, and there are none of the sweet and sticky cliches that the band was crutching on before anywhere in sight during this ten-track, thirty-seven-minute run-time. What that all amounts to is a surprisingly able leap made by Magneta Lane to the next rung of their careers; they truly are beginning to take control of their own destiny with the finest sort of result on Gambling With God; they  show that they've learned the introductory lessons in the difference this record represents, and they're beginning to stand on their own two feet, creatively.

The learning curve continues as now, the band continues to discover the motions and tenuous nature of booking a tour – or at least having a strong hand in doing so. It has all been very rewarding and mildly harrowing according to the singer who, while still at home for the moment, continues to stress as the last fibers and fine points of the forthcoming tour finally come together. “I'm just a little tired and a little stressed out because there's only about two weeks until our tour starts and I'm still waiting for the last tour dates to come in,” says Valentine with a nervous laugh. “We sort of booked it at the last minute so we're still holding our breath a bit; if you don't book, like, three months in advance and make sure the cities line up in a row, you wind up stressing and crossing your fingers that everything comes together. It seems to be though, which is reassuring. It's sort of funny; we are very much involved with this process now but, because there are so many people involved, it's hard sometimes to get them all to line up. We're getting it though, and one thing that we're really looking forward to this year is getting the record released down in the States and they're talking about doing that in maybe the summer or Fall. If that happens, hopefully we'll get down there to do a Magneta tour. We went there a few months ago with Sloan it was cool, but it's a very different vibe. I'd like to cover more territories down there to see what it's like.”



Magneta Lane – “Lady Bones” – Gambling With God


Gambling With God
is currently available as a Canadian import. Buy it here on Amazon .

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