Formed in Salinas, California in high school by guitarists Mike Brandon and Luis “L.A” Solano, their garage, psych rock sound has been long in the works for the past years before both re-located to Brooklyn, recruiting Alex Amini (bass) as well as Nick Pillot (drums). Reminiscent of the mid-60’s era, the Kinks, Nuggets and the Sonics, The Mystery Lights have managed to bring new life to retro garage rock with fuzz, energy and wavy reverbs that add different textures to their songs.
Moving to New York, they continuously gigged, produced material and mixed the city’s influence/spirit with their garage rock passion, earning them a contract with retro-inspired label Daptone’s rock print, Wick Records. They were the label’s first release, with a self-titled debut album in 2016 setting the tone for the newest member of Daptone’s family with a successful record full of punk, garage, psych and energy bursting at the scene. “What Happens When You Turn The Devil Down” exemplifies what they’re all about, as they say the beginning of the video, they like rough, raw, nasty and messed up which is heard through the guitars as well as Brandon’s rasping voice. The fuzzy screeches of one guitar, supported by a unified bass as well as drums in terms of rhythm, the melodies held up by another clean guitar and the organ providing retro feels to a brilliant garage rock tune.
Tracks like “Follow Me Home” hold dark undertones to a daunting 60’s psych-vibe, with a killer guitar riff, the organ dropping in and out of the melody, backing vocals giving this track The Hives feel to it with guitar solos expanding horizons. Rhythmically, Mystery Lights are tight, as seen also with the fantastic “Too Many Girls” with stomping drums, awesome dynamics by the main guitar, backing vocals with the call and response, these guys show they have a more than a few tricks up their sleeves.
The band shows that they can also up the tempo and energy very quickly with “Melt”, taking on an early-punk feel with fast drums, guitars and screeching vocals sharply saying: “How do you hate me now?”. For “Flowers in My Hair, Demons in My Head”, we get swagger as well as filth through the melody’s tone and that second guitar oozing grizzly fuzz, Brandon starting the song off with: “Once again, there’s a stranger in my bed” setting the pace for this uneasy tune as if you’re waking up from a rough night. “Candlelight” takes charge with the organ and shaky guitars before breaking into a fast-paced escape worthy of some wild live scenes.
Demons, girls, sex, rough guitars, tight rhythmic of drums and bass accompanied by organ as well as sharp vocals, The Mystery Lights have set the bar for Wick Records, their toxic 60’s psych, garage rock is refreshing. Even though some tunes might not grasp your attention as much as others, their energy as well as devotion to their sound is felt through the speakers, Brandon’s distinctive voice and fuzz all over the place – I can’t wait for their next album and to see where Wick Records takes us!