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Gross Magic

Sam McGarrigle mines the same eccentric territory as Ariel Pink, but with more humor and a lot less baggage.

The 20-year-old Brighton-born Sam McGarrigle has generated a crazy amount of buzz for his debut release as Gross Magic, the fun-time Teen Jamz EP. Across a handful of songs, Sam mines the same eccentric territory as Ariel Pink, but with more humor and a lot less baggage. “To me, it sounds like pop music with guitar solos,” Sam told Noisey. It’s those chunky, wailing guitars that smacked him center-court in the more experimental depths of British new music.


While Teen Jamz owes much to the glam-rock stomp of Bowie & Ronson, as well as the elaborate orchestral pop of ELO’s Jeff Lynne (check out the lift from "Mr. Blue Sky" on opening track "We’re Awake Tonight"), Sam’s main inspiration comes from closer to home. “The most important influence on me musically is my cousins, [who] were in a band called Cat on Form and played shows with Fugazi and Melt Banana”, Sam explained to Noisey. At the tender age of 9, the young Sam was invited to record some songs with his cousin Dan. Over the next few years they churned out a bunch of homemade albums, often writing and recording in the same day. The intensity of such a process has shaped Sam’s own attitude to creating music. He’s also taken cues from the likes of lo-fi singer-songwriter R. Stevie Moore who’s released hundreds of homemade cassettes and CDs since the late 70s.

Sam is still in Brighton, fleshing out his one-man project into a full band. His best friends Will (guitar), Steve (bass) and Joe (drums) have recently come on board. As 2011 draws to a close, his ambition is as heady and chaotic as one might expect: “I like playing live shows and going to new places and meeting new people,” Sam explained, “but I have this rough outline for albums 1-7 in my head. I’ll make them even if nobody wants to put them out.” That DIY fire burns bright in this kid!

You should definitely watch part 2 right now.