Track by Track: Magana – ‘Teeth’

Posted: by The Editor

Out today in conjunction with the full moon, Magana’s Teeth wraps up snapshots from singer Jeni Magaña’s past in a lush and mesmerizing soundscape, each track feeling like an invocation of a particular memory, feeling, or train of thought. Instrumentally, Teeth is a mosaic, with crunchy guitars, airy woodwinds, gorgeous strings, and synths that sound like they were summoned from a different dimension blending together beautifully.

Check it out and read Jeni Magaña’s breakdown of each track below.


Garden is starting in the head. It’s about observing the world and oneself and seeing all the things that need to be “fixed” but realizing that like a garden, we need to be tended to and cared for. Not fixed. And if the care is put off, there are unavoidable consequences. I tracked each guitar chord using a toy nylon string guitar on an old phone. Then I cut them into the rhythm that is on the record, because I wanted it to sound just a little bit unnatural. I think it sets the right tone for the album. Wondering, holding up little bits of thoughts and memories and examining them. 

Beside You

Beside You is about how hard it is to watch someone you love go through a hard time. I have just barely received the lesson that I actually can’t fix everyone else’s problems. Tragically. But I still want to. And this song is sort of about realizing the most I can offer someone is my presence and maybe a little bit of understanding. Most of the things you hear are straight from the demo. We re-tracked some of the guitars to add variety, vocals, and drums. But you can still hear my midi demo drums in there too.


I wrote the chords for this song with different lyrics originally. It was written on acoustic guitar, and a bit more about a relationship with another person. But it never really sat right with me. When I was working up all of these demos, I was writing new songs and also just bringing up anything I hadn’t previously recorded to try and get some practice. I pulled this one up and realized it wasn’t about feeling abandoned by a person; it was about feeling abandoned by God. I honestly think that feeling angry at God is a healthy thing that people should consider. It’s not that I’m saying it is or isn’t justified, but rather that we probably all experience that feeling at some point and pretending it doesn’t exist just further isolates the idea of God from our human experience. 

I tracked a lot of layers on this one, trying to find the right thing. And muted most of them. But eventually, I decided to take a risk and add a lot of it back in, so that it’s big and chaotic and complicated. It helps that my husband was willing to mix this insanity and even contributed his own chaos with the chorus drums. 


I had met a friend for lunch, and she told me the story of Paul. It was new and raw and she was processing by sharing this. I happen to do my processing through songwriting, so I came home and wrote this. For him and for her. People told me I needed another verse but I found that I really didn’t have any other words that wouldn’t have been made up for the sake of the form. I didn’t want to add myself into this more than I already have by filtering her thoughts through my own lens. So it sits as is. An offering for those that knew him. And to being with friends when they are grieving.

Break Free

Break Free started as a short loop. I don’t even remember why I started it anymore. But I decided to try adding lyrics to it, and I was drawn to the idea that the repetitive looping was part of the cycle of self-perpetuating our stuckness. That the key to escaping is changing ourselves. I debated asking someone else to play the guitar solo at the end, just to get new ideas into the song. I mostly didn’t reach out because of anxiety, but now I like that it’s a version of me that has to change to escape the mold in this song. 

I Feel Like Ice

I wrote this song thinking a lot of my husband’s grandmother. At the end of her life, she was mostly deaf and blind, even with glasses and hearing aids. We would visit her and bring her candy, which she would devour. And she would talk for a few minutes and basically tell us to leave. I think of how without a lot of our senses, we can be so isolated even around other people. I think that’s probably why she ate so much candy–a way to sense the world around her. That’s just my theory though. I recorded snippets of our conversations and used her voice to guide the track. 

To My Love

This track was inspired by a fight that my husband and I had while on vacation a long time ago. It stuck with me because I remember this crazy feeling of standing so near him but feeling unable to reach him. Like there was a deep split of the earth between us, or some invisible wall I didn’t know how to get through. Somehow nothing seemed like the right thing to say to bring the wall down. Love is weird. 

As a funny side story, here is how that particular fight ended: I took a walk to cool off and saw a place that sells smoothies. I decided a delicious beverage would be my olive branch so I ordered one. This smoothie shop, though, was one where you had to ride a bike to power the blender. A very cool concept if I was in a different mood. It was displayed on the street so that people could admire the ingenuity. I got on the bike and the girl behind the counter asked me how my day was. I immediately burst into tears, still riding the exercise bike and blending up my smoothie. I’ll never forget the look on the poor girl’s face. She offered to finish blending the smoothie for me.

In My Body

TW Sexual Assault

The CDC says “over half of women and almost 1 in 3 men have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes.” That includes me, and probably a lot of people you know. It’s not something I talk about a lot but it is the most dehumanizing feeling I have experienced. This song isn’t just about that, though. I hope it serves as a reminder for any experience that leaves you feeling disassociated with your body that it is your body and you can find a safe way to come back to it. 


This entire album is a series of me picking up little memories, some good and some bad, and examining them. Bones is a memory of the day my father died. I was in high school, and death hadn’t become a fully realized concept for me until that day. I think of this song as pictured through short flashbacks. This track wasn’t necessarily meant to have words but I love the way they fit.

I Cannot Breathe

I Cannot Breathe was one of the first tracks I made when I borrowed my husband’s Prophet. I was running it through my guitar pedal board in the living room and just messing around. It’s about feeling like you’ve lost your way. The feeling that you sometimes get when your heart is racing and your breath is shallow but you can’t quite define why. Why suddenly it feels like all the choices you’ve made have been the wrong ones. I started with just “I cannot breathe” and I thought it might just repeat but when other words came, I let them stay. It gives the song kind of an odd form but that’s what makes me like it.

Afraid of Everybody

This is an examination of my social anxiety. I feel like social situations are sometimes just contests to see who has studied the rules of the game the most. A part of that for me might be some of the societal expectations that are put on women specifically. Make jokes, but don’t be mean. Be sharp but stay sweet. Love food but be skinny but don’t talk about your body. Be confident but don’t brag. Speak up but don’t be a bitch. Be one of the guys but stay feminine. It just complicates the rules a bit, and I feel like I can’t keep up. I wrote this in one sitting playing it on acoustic guitar, and the arrangement was already in my head as I was writing it. It’s pretty rare that I have such a fully formed idea come to me all at once. So that was very cool! 

Mary Anne

This song is about my mom. I wrote it and decided to track it on my little cassette player that my mom had given me. Because I had just written it, I was still feeling pretty emotional when I went to do this run-through. I think that’s why this version was the one that ended up on the album, even though I recorded it after with very nice mics. I think this song was already just what it needed to be. 


A transition, a reminder to take a breath. And hopefully, an invitation to sort of think about the things that I was just choosing to sing about. And maybe choose a few of your own memories and thoughts and hold them up to the light for examination. 

Girl in Chains

Girl in Chains is about feeling trapped and waiting for someone to come rescue you, or something to change. What I think sets this song apart from Break Free, which has a similar message, is that the person in this song perhaps realizes that it is indeed a chain of their own making but they do not choose to free themselves. They made a promise, and they are planning to stick to it knowing that it might not be a healthy choice. There are a lot of ways we continue to do that in our lives, and I feel that it’s an honest ending to a record of examination. Some things are healed and some things change, but other things do not. I recorded the demo for it using my bass and pitch shifting the earlier melody. And we kept all of that stuff. We just added guitar later and layered many drums. The record opens and closes with a sort of repetitive meditation on how we may or may not change. Such is life.

Teeth is out everywhere today.

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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