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Mystic Braves

Desert Island

(self-released; US: 1 Apr 2014; UK: 1 Apr 2014)

What's old is new again

When does a band become so derivative that it stops being a problem and just is? The Mystic Braves are a five-piece out of Los Angeles who are so thoroughly in love with the twangy, farfisa-inflected, hippie-trippy music of the 1960s that they play it a hell of a lot better than many of the bands who were actually there at the time. To put it another way: they don’t play psychedelic 1960s rock the way it was, so much as the way we remember it being.


Tunes like “Bright Blue Day Haze” and “Coyote Blood” are all aswirl with reverb-y guitars, farfisa lines, tumbling bass and groovy lyrics, set to jaunty tempos and packed with enough sonic density to remain engaging even after dozens of listens (trust me). The album is remarkably consistent from top to bottom, so it’s tough to pick a standout, but both the title track and album closer “Earthshake” are particularly infectious, the former with its interplay of keyboard and guitar and the latter with its classic chord progression and drowning-in-reverb vocals. This is a great album all around. Sure, it’s utterly indebted to the music of 50 years ago, but so what? It’s still great.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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