Originally published in Rolling Stoneforge Magazine*

The wait is finally over. That’s Why Heliod Made The Tokens is the first studio album by the Deserted Beach Boys in over ten years to feature new, original music, and fans are over the moon.

Their last album, Birds In Paradise, was met with mixed reviews, with critics describing it as “trying too hard to do too much.” Brian Wilhelt, lead singer of the Deserted Beach Boys, said of Birds In Paradise that they wanted “to include all colours of music in it,” claiming it would be value left on the table if they didn’t. “We had the fixing,” he went on to say, “so why not go for it?” It was certainly ambitious, but the end result was ultimately a clunky and inconsistent album.

The Deserted Beach Boys
Select Discography

Steelfin Safari
Slingin’ E.D.H.
The Deserted Beach Boys Christmas Album
Poppet Sounds
Wild Honey Mammoth
Friends Forever
15 Big Endless Ones
Birds In Paradise
That’s Why Heliod Made The Tokens

That’s Why Heliod Made The Tokens, on the other hand, is a return to form. Long-time fans are sure to appreciate the familiar retro-surfer energy that permeated their classic hits, as well as the Magic-centric lyrics that have always been a staple of their songs. Indeed, Heliod fits perfectly alongside their old albums, truly capturing the aesthetic of early singles from Steelfin Safari and the heyday of Poppet Sounds and +20/+20.

Heliod opens with a remaster of the vintage single “Slingin’ E.D.H.” with updated lyrics. The subtle change gives it a fresh, modern feel that still respects the legacy of the song. This album won’t be remembered as the pioneer of a new genre like Poppet Sounds was, but it isn’t trying to be. Putting such an iconic tune at the start of the album sets a standard for the songs going forward, and lets the listener know exactly what to expect. This album is old school, and while it may not be groundbreaking, its style is a type one can’t help but appreciate.

That’s Why Heliod Made The Tokens
Track Listing

1: Slingin’ E.D.H.
2: God Libations
3: Wouldn’t It Be Thrice
4: Kokusho
5: Wren’s Run, Run, Run
6: Lands Ahoy
7. Little Sluice Coup
8: I Run Aground
9: Heads I Win – Tails You Lose
10: Kalonia Squirrels
11: That’s Why Heliod Made The Tokens
12: Little Massacre Girl

The album is solid, but easily the best song has to be track four: Kokusho. It’s a flowing ballad with a beautiful melody. This tune is juxtaposed by its quirky lyrics, about a Commander player who regularly stomps his opponents with The Evening Star. The titular dragon spirit from Champions of Kamigawa is notorious for the huge life swings it creates, and for its brief stint on the Commander ban list. It’s possible these lyrics are a direct reference to a particular band member’s choice of deck, though the group hasn’t commented on it.

Kokusho, by The Deserted Beach Boys
To the tune of Kokomo, by the Beach Boys

Ayula, Jegantha, oh I’m gonna beat ya
Keruga, Kodama, Kondo of Jamuraa
King Brago, Big Zurgo, Breeches and Livio. Jeleva

In my toploader sleeves, there’s a card called Kokusho
That’s what I wanna play to take a win from them all.
Casting Choking Sands, see those spells rotting in your hand
Won’t be falling in line with your Prava of the Steel Legion
Not with Kokusho

Latulla, Pharika, oh I sure could take you with
Blue Bruna, Bell Borca, or my pal Zacama
Kentaro, Molimo, really though you should know
Oo~ I wanna take you down with
Kokusho, we’ll Pestilence and then we’ll Fatal Blow
Back to the command zone, to drain with Kokusho

I’ll stop Rafiq, and Vendil-ion Clique

Belov’d of the Sea, your enchanting Callaphe,
(Will) try and try to defy… my little Cruel Finality.
Incremental Blight, Impales your Mardu Knights
That angry look in your eye; draining a big batch of fifteen life
Each round with Kokusho

Alela, Jalira, oh I beat Meloku too
Obeka, Oketra, come and face me, Thada
Arahbo, Sakiko, Brigid with her wee bow
Oo~ I’m gonna take you down with
Kokusho, I’ll ramp real fast and then I’ll grind you low
That’s why I know you won’t… Take Down my Kokusho

A Pro-fane Prince, transform it just for kicks

[Saxophone solo]

Everybody owns… a little card like Kokusho
Now if you want to go and take a win from them all
Sleeve up a Kokusho

Gyruda, Reveka, Juri with his Revue, or
Try Thromok, Tetzimoc, Demonlord Belzenlok
Pair Dargo with Toggo, sneak in with Tetsuko,
Oo~ if you want to take me down your
Two Krenkos will get there fast, but they’ll be just too slow
That’s how I always know… to play my Kokusho

Homura, Sasaya, Heartless Hidetsugu too
Akuta, Azusa, all from Kamigawa
Like Godo, Fumiko, one you already know
Oo~ I’m gonna take you down with
Kokusho, I’ll stomp you fast and have another go
That’s how it always goes… when I play Kokusho….

[Fade out]

The cool summer vibes the band became known for are finally back in full force, and it couldn’t be better. Of course, it’s their adherence to this style that landed the Deserted Beach Boys in so much trouble all those years ago. Since the release of Steelfin Safari, comparisons between their music and a certain band of the 1960s were rampant. When asked about the seemingly identical melodies in an interview some years ago, songwriter Mike Lovisa looked puzzled. “That band’s music is all about surfing and girls. We write about Magic: The Gathering. About the only similarity between our band and theirs is how much we both love Islands.”

Sadly, the difference in lyrics wasn’t enough for the lawyers, and by the time Birds in Paradise came out the Deserted Beach Boys found themselves completely tangled up in red tape. This was obviously a major contributing factor in the band’s hiatus, though their infamous falling out over the use of silver-bordered cards in a game of Commander certainly didn’t help.

Now ten years later, the dust seems to have settled (both legally and emotionally). They’re banding together again, and retracting the musical styles that made them a hit. Whether this is the start of something new or a one-time thing remains to be seen, but either way it’s good to have them back.

*Author’s note: This article is a work of fiction, written for entertainment only. My apologies to Wizards of the Coast and the Beach Boys; I hope you enjoyed the new lyrics. There’s no such group as the Deserted Beach Boys, and if there were I’m sure they’d be far more clever than this.

If you’re interested in reading more fiction about Magic‘s music history, check out the growing playlist:

Track 1: The Sounds of the Sea
Track 2: The Invasion Soundtrack
Track 3: Yisan Records Presents – Scoop
Track 4: Beauty and the Beast Token
Track 5: The Double Masters Musical
Track 6: Double The Musical, Double the Fun
Track 7: Second Sun
Track 8: Kokusho, by the Deserted Beach Boys

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