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Pop-conjurers Magic Kids pull 'Happy' music from their hats



Magic Kids with Junebug Spade and La Panther Happens
9 p.m. Friday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
$8, $10 under 21

Fresh from a tour with blog sensation Girls, the Tennessee-based Magic Kids appear to be the next underground twee-pop sensation. The quintet recently signed a record deal, and with its peppy, "Pet Sounds"-inspired indie-pop and upbeat spirit, the act is an indulgence that's hard to decline.

"We're definitely fans of music that makes people happy," said singer/guitarist Bennett Foster. "Everyone needs music that you don't have to be ashamed that it makes you happy. If it makes you happy, that's all I need."

The group formed last spring as a side project of garage-rock outfit The Barbaras. When bassist Stephen Pope and Billie Hayes left to back Memphis indie-punk phenom Jay Reatard, Foster and bandmates Will McElroy began recording "Hey Boy," which quickly became a Web sensation. Hayes and Pope eventually left Reatard's band in October, just months before the musician's death from cocaine toxicity and alcohol. Foster and McElroy recruited fellow Barbaras member Alex Gates, drummer Ben Bauermeister and bassist Michael Perry to round out the band.

"That was a fun couple years (in The Barbaras), and it's definitely where we learned what kind of music we wanted to be making," Foster said. "We didn't have to talk about it; we all wanted the same thing."

Magic Kids recorded a handful of tracks keyed to Foster's trilling falsetto in McElroy's bedroom, including the shimmying pop rave "Cry with Me Baby" and the sweet "Superball," whose sense of innocence and '60s girl-pop warmth have a lot in common with Girls. Before long, labels started sniffing around. A night out and some Mariah Carey sealed the deal with True Panther Sounds.

"We were just minding our own business, honestly, and they just came to a show and talked to us," Foster said. "We went to karaoke together and did some Mariah Carey with the True Panther owner, Dean Bein. He's a real sweet guy; we really liked him a lot. It's a dream come true, and we want to thank all of our fans. They made this possible for us and we're having the time of our lives, rolling down the road eating cookies Will's mom made for us."

Magic Kids will enter a real studio for the first time after their current tour, and they couldn't be more excited about it. They hope to release their full-length debut by the beginning of the fall.
Everything has happened so fast that the five Magic members don't know what to think except to cross their fingers and hold on tight.

With a little luck, the Magic Kids might even become as famous as their bassist's late uncle, actor Bob Denver.

"Hopefully, we can achieve greatness close to the impact he had on the culture as Gilligan," Perry said. "Chris Parker

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