Category: garage psych

Live Footage: The Mystery Lights Perform Material off “Too Much Tension!” at Paste Studios

Comprised of founding members Mike Brandon and L.A. Solano with Alex Q. Amini and Zach Butler, the New York-based quartet The Mystery Lights have received attention across the blogosphere for an old-timey garage rock/garage psych sound and aesthetic that recalls The Who Sings My Generation-era The Who, The Animals, Raccoon Fighter, The Black Angels and 70s art punk — and for being the the first rock act to sign with Daptone Records subsidiary Wick Records.

Interestingly, the band can trace its origins back to Salinas, CA where Brandon and Solano grew up, met and played in a nubmer of different local bands in their teens before relocating to New York. The band’s lineup solidified with the addition of Alex Amini, Kevin Harris and Noah Kohll. And despite lineup changes, the band initially developed a word-of-mouth reputation over the period of a few years for explosive live shows across town. Naturally, those live shows helped the band develop their sound and approach. 

2016 saw the release of the band’s self-titled debut, which they supposed with a wild array of touring, including the now-prerequisite stop at SXSW. Over the past couple of years, the members of The Mystery Lights have been relentlessly playing shows everywhere — and they’ve been busy writing and recording, their Wayne Gordon-produced sophomore album Too Much Tension! Recorded at Daptone Records’ famed House of Soul Studios, the recently released album finds the band digging deeper into their influences to enrich their sound — without echoing the past. Thematically, the album touches upon substance abuse, self-care and the recognition of happiness only once it’s lost, imbued with a post-modern anxiety.  

The New York-based band was recently invited to Paste Studios at Manhattan Center to perform material off the new album that included the fed-up anthem “I’m So Tired (of Living in the City),” the tense and uneasy “Someone Else Is In Control,” the slow-burning The Animals-like ballad “Watching the News, Gives Me The Blues,” and the rollocking “Traces” — and all of the tracks performed at the live session were delivered with the raw, fiery intensity of their live set.

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New Video: JOVM Mainstays Oh Sees Release Nightmarish and Hallucinogenic Visuals for “Enrique El Cobrador” off “Smote Reverser”

Throughout this site’s eight year history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Bay Area-based  Oh Sees (a.k.a. Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees, The Orange County Sound, Orinoka Crash Suite and other variations) — and as you may recall, the band which is led by its ridiculously prolific creative mastermind John Dwyer has long-held reputation for a wide-ranging experimentalism that has seen the band dabble and bounce between lysergic-tinged folk, furious and sweaty garage rippers, sci-fi driven krautrock and more. And with each successive album generally being completely different from its predecessors, it makes the band difficult to pigeonhole.

Last year’s Orc was a muscular and darkly inventive turn for the current lineup which features Tim Hellman (bass), Dan Rincon (drums) and Paul Quattrone (drums), as the material balanced a trippy, cosmic vibe with some of their most hard-hitting and punishing tendencies. Reaffirming their reputation for being unpredictable, the members of the band quickly followed that up with Memory of a Cut Off Head, an album that found the band revisiting the sound and approach of their early years, best known as their “quiet” period; in fact, returning to one of the band’s earlier names — OCS — was meant to herald a return to –the lower end of the decibel meter. 

Last year, Dwyer and company did two shows with their quieter and lush incarnation at The Chapel in San Francisco and those live shows eventually produced a handmade, mail-order only live album OCS Live in San Francisco that was released through Rock Is Hell Records. Interestingly, the album will be re-issued and made available in a condensed 2 LP set and to support that effort, the OCS will play a limited performance run of mellow OCS tunes at The Murmrr Theatre in Brooklyn, as an octet featuring members of the early lineup, including Brigid Dawson (vocals), Tim Hellman (bass), Paul Quattrone (drums), Tom Dolas (keys), Eric Clark (violin), Heather Lockie (viola) and Emily Elkin (cello). (You can check those dates below.)

Also, Castle Face Records will be re-issuing a string of Oh Sees out-of-print Oh Sees albums from the quiet era beginning with The Cool Death of Island Raiders in February 2019. In the meantime, the band has released live footage of them performing the trippy and epic burner “Block of Ice,” that features some wild and unhinged guitar playing centered around a propulsive and steady groove. Quieter? I’m not so sure, as this one as a buzzing, garage psych quality; but either way I’m looking forward to catching Dwyer and company live. 

But before that, the ridiculously prolific Dwyer and his Oh Sees/OCS released Smote Reverser earlier this year, and album single “Enrique El Cobrador” finds the band meshing classic psych rock and prog rock in a way that brings JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard but with a muscular and frightening sense of menace at its core, as the song is centered by a motorik-like groove, explosive blasts of guitar, arpeggiated keys and Dwyer delivering his vocals with a guttural snarl. Directed by Alexis Giroux and featuring animation from Giroux and Massimo Colarusso is a hallucinogenic nightmare of murder, bloodshed and bright colors and other wild imagery. 

TOUR DATES
12/15/2018 Murmrr Theatre – Brooklyn, New York
12/16/2018 Murmrr Theatre – Brooklyn, New York