Release Date: Jun 24, 2016
Record label: Wick Records
New York gutter rock rides again. That venerable species The New York Band had almost seemed extinct in the face of the city’s inexorable gentrification, but The Mystery Lights defiantly buck the trend with 70s-style passion and street smarts.. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads.
Positives: expertly played, genuinely soulful and more grooves than Sandanista! on vinyl. Negatives: we've been here before. And haven’t we just? The New York-based garage act display sharp legacy chops, for sure, but more and more the raw power of late 60s rock'n'roll feels like an all-too-easy stopping off point for the next generation. Is that The Mystery Lights' fault? Well, no (it's probably The Black Keys' – let's blame them anyway).
West Coast natives Mike Brandon and Luis "L.A." Solano have been tweaking their version of fuzz-toned garage and psychedelia since their high-school days in Salinas, California. Over the years, the Mystery Lights underwent a number of lineup changes and a cross-continental relocation for their founding members before settling down to work as a New York band, marrying city grit with classic garage fervor. With a handful of EPs and one full-length behind them, the retooled lineup eventually found home on retro-minded Daptone's rock imprint, Wick Records.
Releasing rock albums on Wick Records - the offshoot of the acclaimed soul imprint Daptone - might not look quite right on paper, but once you delve into The Mystery Lights, sense is immediately apparent. This New York based five piece have got the blues, the soul and a whole loada funk in their scorching interpretation of garage/psychedelic rock. This debut long player comes from the same place as the likes of Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and White Fence; the barely -there but still effective production ethic, the distant fuzz of analogue equipment and the nervous energy of late 60s pre-punk are all evident over 11 pieces of furious psych-rock which does its business and leaves just after the thirty minute mark.
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.