Maggi, Pierce & E.J.

EMP Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Did you ever watch the show "Pretender"? I hardly watched, but I know the show was based around a character who could assume any line of work and do it successfully. (There's a deeper sub-plot I'm ignoring, I'm aware of this.)

The thoughts of this show crossed my mind while listening to For, the fourth release from Philadelphia-based Maggi, Pierce And E.J. The band changes its musical style more often than some people I remember from college changed their underwear. But what's interesting about this eclectic trio (besides how many bands they remind me of) is that they handle almost every single style they come across well.

Maggi, who handles all the lead vocals, sounds most often like a cross between Lisa Loeb and Fleming McWilliams (from Fleming & John), with maybe an occasional touch of Tori Amos thrown in at times. Musically, the group is all over the place - something which normally would be annoying and distracting. However, the key is that Maggi, Pierce And E.J. make the style changes sound like it's all part of the master plan - and it is surprisingly smooth.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

How else can one explain the way the group can go from sounding like Sergio Mendes & The Brazil '66 (remember them?) on "Ferdinand" to a light jazz-alternative mix on "Burning The Sun" to an almost Phish-like opening on "Space"? In the hands of many other bands, these kinds of shifts would leave listeners pulling out their hair. But somehow, Maggi, Pierce And E.J. not only make these changes seamless, but they do a damn good job in almost any genre they're thrown.

The only exception - and the only track on For which doesn't work - is "This Year's Obsession". It has nothing to do with being led in by a humorous interlude in "What The Heck"; instead,.it just doesn't seem right for this band to be tackling a hoarse kind of pseudo-punk-alternative on "This Year's Obsession". Still, that's one slip out of 15 listed tracks.

I say "listed," because Maggi, Pierce And E.J. bury some snippets in the disc, which surface after about a four-minute silent track 16. (Note to any band reading: I, like millions of other listeners, have better things to do with my time than to sit through silence while little "ego projects" are hidden. You want me to listen to these, you'd better be ready to pay me for my time. I think a dollar for each minute of silence is fair... and two dollars for each minute worth of "ego project" that is a waste of time. If this is the standard, this group owes me $9.)

I have a little difficulty following the logic that For was inspired by the life and music of Jeff Buckley, though the melancholy atmosphere that makes up some of these tracks (many of which were written before Buckley's death) sometimes does provide a type of tie-in. But you don't even need to know the logic behind this disc to enjoy it. And while Maggie, Pierce And E.J. might be reveling in their anonymity created without the use of last names, if For is any indication, they won't be unknowns for much longer.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMP Records, and is used for informational purposes only.