Wow! Mystic Braves sure are blowing up lately! Yes, okay, they aren’t the only band riding high on the 60′s psych-revival kick, but it’s cool they exist–a bunch of young guys bashing out tunes and helping to re-imagine a time in music that provided the foundation for the DIY ethos today’s indie community is derived from. I’m sure you all know the story: every baby boomer who saw The Beatles’ first performance on Ed Sullivan’s show in 1964 who wasn’t already convinced by the likes of Elvis Presley or The Ventures immediately rushed out to buy a guitar and start a band of their own in their parents’ garage. I’ve often wondered, though, if that boom of rough-sounding, garage-born Beatles-alikes came to be known as “Nuggets,” and those bands who re-discovered these same 60s groups in the 80s are referred to as “Pebbles” then what name will this generation’s psychedelic garage revival go by? Whatever it may be, Mystic Braves’ new single certainly comes off as a bit too rough for the band to be named among its chief ambassadors.
While Mystic Braves’ debut self-titled album lacked some punch, “Born Without a Heart” is a bit of an all-out assault on the ears. The whimsical Farfisa keys, a recent addition to the band’s live sound, struggle to be heard. While it sounds fantastic, the psych-y fuzz guitar drone in the verses occupies a lot of sonic territory in both channels and overpowers most of the instrumentation throughout the track. The drummer’s ride cymbal takes center-stage here as well, yet it still somehow finds itself fighting for space with the rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals, the latter two of which manage to slip in and out of a frequency range that is a bit fatiguing on the ears. The lyrics themselves are sparse and masked in a murky lo-fi, reverb-affected filter that makes them tough to decipher, but the song’s hook, the veritable light at the end of the tunnel, comes through loud and clear. For all of its mixing woes however, it’s honestly refreshing that “Born Without a Heart” suggests Mystic Braves are evolving and moving towards a more aggressive, acid-soaked psychedelic sound.
If the recording of “Born Without a Heart” reviewed here is an unmastered cut off of “Desert Island”, the next album Mystic Braves have in the pipes for April of this year then there may be no need for panic, but if not then perhaps the studio may just not be the band’s natural domain. After all, it’s well-known to LA locals that the band rarely fails to put on an enjoyable and solid live show. Fans and followers of the band may fail to notice the song’s production but from a band whose star is just beginning to rise, it’s not unreasonable to expect a crisper and cleaner package replete with dynamics. As it stands this cut beats you over the head like a boulder and sinks like a stone.