The Upshot: Sounds like 1966, but like it’s happening all over again, organically and without premeditation, and it rocks.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Fuzz guitar, vintage Farfisa, hair-clutching bad-trip psychedelia and aggressive, bell-bottom-flared sexuality – it’s 1966 all over again with the Mystery Lights, NYC’s Nuggets-Box-set-come-to-life band. And yet while all the sounds are recognizable, none have gone stale. This is by the best retro garage album I’ve heard in years, reinvigorating the art of the Seeds, the Sonics, the 13th Floor Elevators and the Electric Prunes with lust and swagger and bravado.
Mystery Lights started in California around a core of guitarists Mike Brandon and LA Solano, who went to high school together. The two moved, separately, to New York City, met up again there, recruited Alex Amini on bass and Nick Pillot on drums (but not for long; their FB page says they’re looking for a new drummer) and started banging out shows. They are the first band to record on Daptone imprint Wick Records, which makes perfect sense. What artists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley do for classic soul (i.e. make it sound like they just thought of it), Mystery Lights are doing for garage rock. First single “Follow Me Home” is brash, guitar-slashed, organ-burnished and Seeds-ish, with a scrappy call and response in which whatever Brandon says elicits an all-hands “Follow me home” (or sometimes “ah-ah-ah”). “Flowers in My Hair, Demons in My Heart” comes more from the Roky Erikson side of demented psychedelia, and “Too Many Girls” just sounds like the 1960s, a freak beat humble brag about all the women-kind who won’t leave Brandon be.
The production reinforces a fresh but retro vibe, with Daptone’s classic analogue aesthetic a perfect foil for stripped down, raggedly romantic anthems. Follow Me Home sounds like 1966, but like it’s happening all over again, organically and without premeditation, and it rocks.
DOWNLOAD: The whole fucking thing. [Amen. —Garage Rock Ed.]