Currently comprised of the band’s founding duo Julian Ducatenzeiler (vocals, guitar) and Tony Malacara (bass), along with newest members Shane Stotsenberg (guitar), Cameron Gartung (drums) and Ignacio Gonzalez (organs), the Los Angeles-based garage rock/psych rock act Mystic Braves can trace their origins to when Ducantenzeiler and Malacara formed the band in San Diego in 2011. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes but their current lineup was solidified in 2013 when Ducantenzeiler and Malacara relocated to Los Angeles, where they recruited Stotsenberg and Gartung. As a quartet featuring Ducatenzeiler, Malacara, Stotsenberg and Gartung, the band had begun writing material and touring while searching for a full-time organist when they found Gonzalez.
Mystic Braves’ fourth album, The Great Unknown is slated for an August 17, 2018 release through Lolipop Records, and the soon-to-be released album found the band recruiting Kyle Mullarky, who has worked with The Growlers and The Allah-Las. The band spent a week at Mullarky’s Topanga Canyon, CA studio exploring new sounds and approaches and cutting demos, and as the band’s Julian Ducatenzelier says in press notes, “We just wanted to work with him to help shape the songs creatively, but he ended up being so great to work with that we just stuck with him.”
After recording somewhere between 30-40 demos at Mullarky’s studio, the band returned to their hometown, holing up in Lolipop Records‘ new office/studio/living quarters in the Boyle Heights section to record the final versions of the songs that would comprise The Great Escape. “We spent three days a week at Lolipop for about a month and a half, all living together, writing, recording, grilling, drinking too much tequila and coffee,” Ducatenzelier recalls. “We decided to get a little experimental—some of the songs came out sort of country and some were super funky, almost like James Brown.”
Sonically, the material channels The Seeds, The Zombies, The Kinks and others — but while earnestly maintaining a unique sense of individuality, which Ducatenzelier attributes to the album’s deeply personal nature. “A lot of this record comes from a breakup,” he explains. “It deals with the end of past relationships, with knowing that things should end, and figuring out how to cope with the loss.”
The album’s latest single “Under Control” is a shimmering bit of lysergic-tinged bubblegum pop centered around some timeless rock ‘n’ roll tropes: the inevitable end of a romantic relationship, the desperate attempt to move forward as time passes by, the acknowledgement that many things in life are unresolved and unfulfilled — and of life’s fleeting nature. Of course, the song naturally has the band balancing between a swaggering and hook-laden arrangement reminiscent of The Castaways “Liar Liar” with an earnest and familiar heartache.
The members of Mystic Braves are currently touring across Europe to support their new album, which they’ll follow up with al lengthy US tour throughout the fall that includes a September 15, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.