Amoeba San Francisco - August 28th @ 6:00pm
Join LA psych-rockers Mystic Braves at Amoeba SF on Tuesday, August 28th at 6pm for a live set and signing of their fourth album, The Great Unknown (out August 24th on Lolipop Records). Also catch them Friday, August 31st at The Chapel.
Transcending the heaping piles of garage bands around the world desperately aping the styles of their outmoded heroes, Mystic Braves emerge as a beacon of rock & roll authenticity, their disheveled, freewheeling look and devil-may-care attitude a genuine product of personality and experience rather than revivalist marketing. From the first organ drone, chiming guitar chord and hazy psychedelic warble, the Los Angeles band’s new LP, The Great Unknown, is a brash proclamation that rock & roll continues to thrive outside the spotlight, stripped of its once-fashionable pretension and driven by an urgency for expression.
Mystic Braves’ The Great Unknown follows in the wake of their 2012 self-titled debut, 2014’s Desert Island and 2015’s Days of Yesteryear, which garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Vegan, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and many more. For the new record, the band enlisted the help of veteran record producer Kyle Mullarky (The Growlers, Allah-Lahs), spending a week at his studio in Topanga Canyon, Calif., cutting demos and exploring new sounds. “We didn’t know at first that Kyle was gonna be the guy to record the new album,” says Mystic Braves singer/guitarist Julian Ducatenzeiler. “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 between 30 and 40 demos at Mullarky’s studio, the group returned to Los Angeles and holed up at Lolipop Records’ new office/studio/living compound in Boyle Heights to record the final versions of the 12 tracks that would become The Great Unknown. “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,” Julian says. “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.”
Mystic Braves’ adventurousness in the studio yielded some impressive results. The Great Unknown stands as the group’s most fully realized project yet—an arresting collection of ethereal psych-pop that channels artists like The Seeds, The Zombies and The Kinks while maintaining an earnest and unique sense of individuality, something Julian attributes to the deeply personal nature of the album. “A lot of this record comes from a breakup,” he says. “It deals with the end of past relationships, with knowing that things should end, and figuring out how to cope with the loss.”
These themes are particularly poignant on standout tracks like the Velvet Underground-channeling “Perfect Person,” which examines a desire to be your best self for the one you love, or the deceptively cheerful-sounding “What Went Wrong,” a song that chronicles futile attempts to reinvent the past while reflecting back on a failed relationship. At their most eviscerating, Mystic Braves tap into the raw emotional vacuum of heartbreak on desert rocker “Can’t Have Love,” as Julian repeatedly croons, “If I can’t have you, then I can’t have love.”
Mystic Braves originally formed in 2011 in San Diego, but the band’s current line-up was solidified in Summer 2013 when Julian and bassist Tony Malacara relocated to Los Angeles. Joined by guitarist Shane Stotsenberg and drummer Cameron Gartung, the group began writing & touring while searching for a fulltime organ player, which they eventually found in Ignacio Gonzalez.
Though Julian is quick to admit there’s plenty to be upset about in the modern world—all the technology, and media and distractions, he trails off—Mystic Braves avoid broad politics in their writing, opting instead to draw from personal experience. “We try to not pay too much attention to all the stuff going on in the news when we’re writing,” he says. “We just come together and keep our focus on the songs—these days, it’s our only escape from all the digital overstimulation.”
As they approach the release of The Great Unknown, Mystic Braves find themselves staring at the horizon, the stresses of lost love vanishing in a 12-track catharsis, channeling the electricity of the rock & roll pioneers that came before them. The group is now gearing up for a European tour in August, followed by a U.S. tour to round out the year. They’ve even got a few new songs already in the works and, above all, a renewed sense of camaraderie. The energy is palpable in their songs and live performances, as prevalent and natural as the effortless swagger that permeates their every move. Mystic Braves are ready to move on, band against world, and they don’t give a damn what anyone thinks.