Her Magic Field
By: Eric G.
John Dugan’s solo debut EP (after having left the Washington DC trio Chisel) is a weird amalgam of Britpop, post-punk, and ambient prog rock. Dugan assumes the role of multi-instrumentalist here, playing everything himself, despite being predominantly a drummer. The weakest aspect of his talents is his voice, which is not to say that his voice is bad necessarily- it’s just not on par with his music. His vocals are somewhat drab compared to the dynamism of his playing.
“City Star” is a sprightly pop song with mod guitars and prominently placed organ. The staccato rhythm underlines a catchy melodic hook while a fuzz-guitar solo adds a much-needed edge to the upbeat tone. “False Accords” sounds like a lightly dissonant Wire homage. Dugan drags out the syllables of his lyrics with an obligatory punk attitude. “Where We Used To Meet” takes things down a notch, meandering around a warm organ riff and recalling the arty prog rock of the seventies.
Dugan definitely knows where he wants to go, and he hints at some good ideas. The overwhelming sense of nostalgia that Dugan’s music exudes can be dangerous, though. Chisel was a throwback to British mod rock, and Dugan’s solo outing is still looking back for inspiration, which can work when it opens up new doors. Dugan just seems too content to reminisce.