Good music is seemingly impervious to fleeting fads and social trends. It always maintains itself in the ever-changing musical landscape. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the recently released self-titled debut album from The Mystery Lights. In it, the Brooklyn-based quintet crafts a revamped blend of early ’60s surf rock, mid-’60s garage rock, and ’70s punk rock. From this eclectic mixture, they remind people that old good music can inspire the creation of new great music.
The Mystery Lights originally formed in 2004 under a different name. Its founding members, Mike Brandon and L.A. Solano, started the band as teenagers in Salinas, California. Over the years, the group underwent several line-up and name changes before settling with their ultimate moniker. Along with Brandon and Solano, the the band also includes bassist Alex Q. Amini, keyboardist Kevin Harris, and drummer Noah Kohll. Now, after relocating to New York City, they’re geared and ready to rock out in 2016 with the newly released The Mystery Lights, their debut LP.
Mystery Lights Gives Old-School Rock ‘n’ Roll a Modern Edge
The track “Follow Me Home” possesses a vintage ’70s-style punk feel. Kohll lays down loud cymbal crashes and pounding drumbeats. Juxtaposed to them are throbbing bass riffs and animated keyboard riffs. Together, they produce an infectious, head-bobbing, foot-stomping beat. All the while, Brandon and Solano dish out buzzing, distorted guitar riffs loaded with grooves. The final prominent aspect of this song is Brandon’s howling vocals.
“Without Me” is a sentimental, quasi-surf rock ballad. Melodic, reverb-drenched guitar riffs glide over groove-heavy bass riffs and soft, deep drums. These elements generate a broody, contemplative tone. Then, there are Brandon’s wistful vocals which add a touch of sincerity to this track. With lyrics like “Honestly, baby, you’re better off without me by your side,” this sincere quality becomes even more apparent. When all is said and done, the song has the collective power of an honest ballad without sappy clichés and mopey dejection.
One last track worth noting is “Too Tough to Bear.” Amini delivers slow, steady basslines that rock back and forth like waves against a shoreline. Cruising alongside them are moderate drums, measured, slashing guitar riffs, and plangent vocals with a few rousing howls. Combined, they give the song a plaintive yet expressive quality. Past the 2:15 mark, dual guitar solos from Brandon and Solano emerge and carry the piece forward to its near conclusion. Just before it ends, Harris sneaks in sonic warbles from his keyboards that quickly fade away.
With their self-titled debut out now, The Mystery Lights aren’t simply rehashing old-school rock ‘n’ roll — they’re redefining retro rock styles for a modern audience with their own vivacious energy.