Geoff Geis

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So Many Wizards feature from Big Whup Industries “What is Happening…” zine

I wrote this for the “What is Happening…”  zine, which was released in September to accompany the first Big Whup Industries Compilation. So Many Wizards’ song “Fly a Kite” is featured on that CD.

For more about the band, see their myspace.

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So Many Wizards is this guy, Nima, who put together an EP called Tree. When I played his music for my Alabamian friend Andy, he described it as “California pop.”

What is it about So Many Wizards that makes the music feel so Californian? Maybe it’s the optimism. “Love is On the Way,” for example, opens with the line “my car blew up on the interstate,” but never gives listeners any sense that that’s cause for alarm. Rather, the song takes an easy-breezy approach, with reverb-drenched lo-fi ‘50s style pop and the message that – despite appearances – we have no reason to worry. Perhaps it was meant as a metaphor for these troubled times, when fires burn for weeks on the horizon and our entire state’s infrastructure seems to be going through the floor, yet life keeps happily chugging along. Elsewhere on the EP, Nima sings about how nice his friends are, how tongue-tied he gets around a girl who reminds him of Marion Davies, and about how great it is to get high – all topics that I wholeheartedly endorse. Not unexpectedly from a one-man band, the record has a very-confident bedroom pop vibe, with even the up-tempo numbers employing little more than guitar and handclaps.

This dude is good enough that he doesn’t need much more than that, and he’s wise to let most of the “Tree” EP shine with minimal configurations. There is one notable exception, however. Within the context of the low-key jams, opener “Fly a Kite” is downright epic and has a driving force behind it that reminds me of a sunnier, less self-serious Arcade Fire. Opening with maudlin piano and dirgy horns, the song relaxes in dream-land for a moment before zooming into the stratosphere on the back of a relentless beat (again, mostly handclaps) that carries the song in the verses before rising full-bore into a chorus that features one of the most poignant suggestions I’ve heard in a while: “let’s just go fly, fly, fly a kite/all through the hills and through the night/with nothing to do/and nothing to lose.” I don’t know what the song is about on the whole, but I was struck by those words. At the right time of day and with the right soundtrack, freeways are my favorite places in the whole world. I was in my car the first time I heard this song, listening to KXLU on the 110 at sunset. I just put my foot on the pedal and smiled.

I was in Alabama for a couple of weeks this summer, and whenever I missed Los Angeles I listened to “Fly a Kite.” Despite all of that repetition, it never wore out its welcome in my headspace. Maybe my friend is right and this stuff is quintessentially Californian; it certainly did bring me back here every time I listened to it. Maybe that’s because Nima has captured the California mindset – we don’t have anything to say, and we (hopefully) have nothing left to lose. We just keep flying kites and it’s great!

The above image was stolen from Beatcrave.

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