I grew up listening to Blink-182’s ridiculous on-stage antics. So it makes perfect sense to me that a comedian as talented as Paul Maged would leave the stage of the comedy club for the stage of the rock show.
Not that Blink was ever that funny. Or that I truly know just how talented Maged is. But there’s no question it takes a lot of skill to effectively write for an audience, whether to make them laugh or to head-bang like it’s 1992 Seattle.
Maged got his start in comedy straight out of high school, doing stand up and sketch comedy, appearing in background roles on Saturday Night Live.
Musically, Maged’s newest EP, Light Years Away, is the first of a trio of EPs the alt rocker plans to release and is the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2014 album Diamonds & Demons. With this new project, Maged wanted to tie his comedy past into the album, not in a comedic way, but in a way that tells the human struggle with such a career choice.
There is some hidden humor if you know the back-story to his first animated music video off the EP. The title track’s video is actually Maged parodying his comedy days, playing animated versions of himself as characters he used to perform: Stoner Moonshine on bass guitar, Italian Chef/Mafioso Vinny Tortellini on lead guitar and legendary Porn Star Randy Phella on drums.
It’s an alt-rock song that has a hint of Muse.
Maged said this EP is a “natural progression in my songwriting exploration with a more ambitious and eclectic sound.”
It certainly is eclectic. “PC Police” is a punk-alt track that, with the power chords and palm muting bars, has Green Day-like influence. Its’ catchy chorus implies that you can’t tell a joke anymore without the ‘PC Police’ coming after you.
Led with acoustic guitar and an folkie tone, “Ashley Jane” has a totally different feel; It’s as if Blues Traveler and The Doobie Brothers came back together for a short reunion.
There’s also “Half Moon,” which should be the first track you listen to. With such a solid composition, I feel it has the most potential of any song on the album.
I think it’s great that Maged continues to work on whatever inspires him, whether that’s making people laugh or enlightening them with his music. However, much of Light Years Away I find largely uninspiring.
The best song on the EP may very well be his tribute to Chris Cornell with a cover of Audioslave’s “Like A Stone.” To me, that means the talent is there to make great music, it just needs to evolve a little more.
Maged has a story to tell. I’m looking forward to hearing it unfold as his storytelling capabilities continue to grow. And who knows, maybe we’ll see him on multiple stages sooner than we think.
Josh Helmuth is an editor for Crave and a longtime music lover whose first record was Eric Clapton. However, his first concert? That choice he will take to the grave.
Listen to and purchase Light Years Away by Paul Maged here.