Zakk for Real’s Debut Album is Powerful, Spellbinding Psychedelia

7 is a Magick Number is a precocious and pensive first effort from blossoming talent

7 is a Magick Number is the debut EP from Canadian rock artist Zakk for Real. Purposefully named, this seven-track body of work will come out on the 7th of May. This could be mistaken for an ensemble piece, but except for the ethereal group vocals on ‘Gamma Love’, the album is all him. 100% Zakk. For real. On the flip side, every instrument is performed digitally, even though it sounds like it could have been recorded live in a studio with truckloads of feeling.

Despite the raw, chaotic nature of psychedelic rock, it’s clear that everything Zakk does was considered. It feels less like an acid trip with the devil at the wheel and more like you’re being gently lulled into higher states of consciousness by a friend. Over the course of the stroll through the Vancouver-native’s memories and fantasies, he deftly juggles the voodoo-themed psych-rock with classic rock, garage, folk, and soul. 7 is a Magick Number is Zakk’s vision quest, and we’re along for the ride.

The album’s opening track ‘Little Black Book’ (currently out as a single) is a short but sweet ditty about a Faustian bargain whose jaunty guitar riff belies the song’s dark undertones. It feels like not only an invitation to pursue fame and fortune, but to carry on listening. And the second invitation doesn’t come with a price (besides the price of the album or your music streaming service, I guess). ‘Black Pine’, one of my favourites, could be an exclusive track on a special Japanese deluxe version of The Black Key’s El Camino. It ends in a keyboard-centric climax that’s easy to get down to. I fully expect ‘Gamma Love’ to see airtime on some reboot of The Vampire Diaries or something. At just over 5 minutes, it’s the longest song, and among its content are guitar solos, Elvis grunts, heartbreak, and ugly, cancerous, mutating sex.

Photo credit: Duncan McDiarmid

Evidently, Zakk’s been drinking his respect-women juice. ‘Ego’, the second track, discusses the pitfalls and consequences of narcissism. The raucous guitar riffs accompany Zakk’s analysis of the egoist: “he sees a young-looking girl, he doesn’t care about her age” paints a picture of a horrible person. The consequences that await such a man are made apparent as Zakk gravely continues to sing: “As the world turns I hope you realise you’re not at the centre of the Earth” ‘Talkin to a Lady’ is even more explicit about his disdain for misogyny. It’s a refreshingly frank observation and condemnation of both men in general and the omnipresent objectification of women in the music industry. It’s a simple message underscored by Zakk’s rawer and more irreverent sound in this particular song.

Zakk’s tendency for introspection gives the album a lot of replayability. He hooks you in with familiar instrumentals that while diverse, can feel derivative. You stay for the lyrics fraught with emotion and history. The blending of traditional licks and soothing high notes with abstract yet strangely specific and relatable subject matter gives the collection a timeless quality reminiscent of T Rex and Ty Segall. It’s an album you can make breakfast to, drink to, dance to, cry to, even fall blissfully asleep to.

7 is a Magick Number comes out on all streaming platforms tomorrow. If you’re one of those older gentlemen who says music hasn’t gone in the direction you wanted since you were a kid, I kindly suggest you open your eyes and lend your ears to the young talent before you.

He/Him

A flamboyant ultra nerd, Dave participates in the Underlevelled Tournament both for the thrill of the fight, and to avenge the orphans lost in the climax of the previous tournament.

Born: London

Height: ???

Weight: ???

Hobbies: street dance, collecting manga volumes, reading, editing

Likes: short-to-medium walks on the beach, pointing out how things can and will be misconstrued as racism, fighting games, RPGs, anime, Hades, alternative hip hop, conscious hip hop, Mara Wilson, overly long bios, ice-cream

Dislikes: insincere media, his own uncanny resemblance to Richard Ayoade, mayonnaise

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