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Super Geek League
A Magic Castle Land
(self-released)

Seattle troupe—band is too quotidian a word to apply to these folks—Super Geek League use dexterous instrumental technique to dramatically wacky ends. A Magic Castle Land (which comes out in March) amply demonstrates Super Geek League's flamboyant flair for sweeping arena rock that screams "ambition" in vivid neon hues.

Although the review copy of A Magic Castle Land that SGL provided is a rough mix on a CD-R, it's clear that head Geek Floyd McFeely has poured an incredible amount of time and energy into this album's 11 tracks. "Space Husband Robot Boy" starts the disc with some languid, florid art rock of no little passion. It dramatically builds from sparseness to raucousness, with vocalist Vy Agra belting like a siren possessed, equal parts Grace Slick and Pat Benatar. The cover of T.I.'s rap hit "What U Know" boasts an exaggeratedly macho delivery with down-tuned guitars and Agra's backing "whoa's" that paraphrase the riff from Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower." "Sub Genius" is turbulent, synth-laden prog rock that recalls some of Trans Am's fruitier moments, bolstered again by Agra's earnest alpha-female vocals. This is one of A Magic Castle Land's definite highlights. Another peak occurs on "JJ Skewers," whose urgent space rock surges through the asteroid belt somewhere between midperiod Tangerine Dream and late-period Hawkwind.

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By contrast, "Robot Rape" begins as speedy hardcore punk and then billows into prog-rock grandiosity; I doubt anyone could see that coming. Then the track ends with another blast of punk fury—quite a purgative experience. "Captain Tomorrow" brings more heroic, rolling, heavy rock with surprisingly buoyant, Herb Alpert–like brass charts from trumpeters Sunshine Applebeard and Sheesh the Mad Mandible and trombonist Knuckles. (SGL's monikers are as outlandish as their music.) The aptly titled 10-minute "Epic" goes through many transformations and mood swings, most of them heavy and baroque, like a Pacific Northwest Fantômas. "Rust Within" recapitulates SGL's lineage in such skillful, eccentric acts as Gwar, Ween, Oingo Boing, and Mr. Bungle. Super Geek League may be wacky, but their chops are no laughing matter. recommended

Super Geek League perform Fri Jan 23, King Cat Theater, 8 pm, $15, all ages.