Words & Deeds

Boise band hits Billboard albums chart — between Nine Inch Nails and Calvin Harris

Billboard is the music industry standard for gauging popularity. It began incorporating digital downloads into its analytics in 2005, and added digital streams two years later.
Billboard is the music industry standard for gauging popularity. It began incorporating digital downloads into its analytics in 2005, and added digital streams two years later.

Interest in Boise’s music scene has grown significantly in recent years, thanks to success stories such as Treefort Music Fest and now-defunct indie act Youth Lagoon.

But you don’t see Idaho bands crack the Billboard charts every day.

Local synthwave superheroes Magic Sword are helping change that. The cloaked trio’s full-length debut album, “Volume 1,” arrived at No. 22 on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart this week. Magic Sword landed one spot ahead of industrial-rock royalty Nine Inch Nails, one spot behind producer-DJ superstar Calvin Harris.

Wait a sec. Magic Sword’s “Volume 1” was self-released in 2013, then got wider distribution in 2015.

Why is it cracking the Billboard charts in 2017? And, uh, how?

Magic Sword’s song, “In the Face of Evil,” is featured in the movie trailer for Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok.” The trailer has been viewed more than 34 million times on YouTube since its release July 22.

“We’ve noticed really big spikes in online streams on Spotify and Soundcloud,” the band’s co-manager, Matt Dalley says. “We’ve been stoked.”

From a marketing perspective, the trailer most definitely is Magic Sword’s “biggest thing thus far as far as cool factor,” keyboardist The Keeper told me last week.

At the time, he wasn’t sure if it would have major, tangible impact. Magic Sword is not mentioned in the trailer or in its description.

But the group’s fan base immediately spread the word online. “They just kind of went crazy over it,” The Keeper noted. Media such as Cleveland.com also wrote about it, explaining who created the trailer’s “fantastic” and “haunting” music.

Crediting the album’s surge to a social media “ripple effect,” Dalley points out that “In the Face of Evil” already was a favorite among Magic Sword followers. The song was featured in the video game “Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number” and included in a GoPro “Streets of Japan” video viewed more than 13 million times.

“The song has some notoriety,” Dalley says.

The Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart “ranks the most popular dance/electronic albums of the week,” Billboard explains, “as compiled by Nielsen Music, based on multi-metric consumption (blending traditional album sales, track equivalent albums, and streaming equivalent albums.”

Magic Sword’s “Volume 1” is available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify — “all the usual suspects,” Dalley says, adding: “A vinyl edition of it is on the band’s site and potentially at the Record Exchange (in Boise) as well.”

Magic Sword is expected to release new music soon. Boise fans can wave their glowing swords at the band’s Knitting Factory concert on Nov. 17.

At least one other Boise band has rocked the Billboard charts in recent years. The eighth studio album from Built To Spill, “Untethered Moon,” hit No. 15 on the Alternative Albums chart in 2015.

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