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.