Ter­rell’s Tune-Up

The Mon­sters New al­bums from The Mys­tery Lights, Thee Oh Sees, and

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Back in the mid-1960s, there was a nat­u­ral con­nec­tion be­tween soul mu­sic and the style of pri­mar­ily Cau­casian rock ’n’ roll we now call “garage rock.” Prac­ti­cally all of those bands — from the lofty mas­ters like The Son­ics down to the pim­pli­est no-name Mid­west­ern no-hit won­ders — un­abashedly tried to im­i­tate African Amer­i­can hit­mak­ers like Wil­son Pick­ett and the Is­ley Broth­ers, and they did their best to mimic all those blues and R&B-soaked Bri­tish bands like The Rolling Stones, The An­i­mals, and The Yard­birds. The garage kids rarely, if ever, sounded as au­then­tic as the per­form­ers they idolized, but the in­flu­ence was ob­vi­ous.

So it shouldn’t seem all that sur­pris­ing that the most prom­i­nent neo-soul la­bel of the day, New York’s Dap­tone Records, would start an im­print (Wick) spe­cial­iz­ing in neog­a­rage rock. And know­ing the in­tegrity of Dap­tone, which has given the world Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, The Bu­dos Band, and oth­ers, it should be no sur­prise that The Mys­tery Lights — the first band to re­lease an al­bum on the Wick la­bel — would be a rock­ing de­light. And though no­body is go­ing to mis­take Mys­tery Lights singer Mike Bran­don for Lee Fields, there’s some true white-boy soul on the band’s self­ti­tled al­bum.

Start­ing out in Sali­nas, Cal­i­for­nia — where Bran­don and guitarist LA Solano started the band as teenagers — this quin­tet has the ba­sic loud-fast-and­snotty, fuzz ’n’ Farfisa sound down like pros. They prove this hand­ily on rock­ers like “Melt” — fea­tur­ing crazed yelps from Bran­don that sound right out of Thee Oh Sees’ bag of tricks — the loopy blues of “What Hap­pens When You Turn the Devil Down,” along with The Seeds-like “21 & Count­ing” and “Fol­low Me Home.”

But even more in­ter­est­ing is when the Lights ven­ture into the great cos­mic be­yond on psy­che­delic ex­cur­sions like “Be­fore My Own” and, es­pe­cially, “Flow­ers in My Hair, Demons in My Head,” which fea­tures some tasty in­ter­play be­tween Solano’s gui­tar and the ly­ser­gic key­boards of Alex Q Amini. This kid prob­a­bly didn’t spend all his free time study­ing David Co­hen’s or­gan so­los with Coun­try Joe and The Fish, play­ing Elec­tric Mu­sic for the Mind and Body over and over again un­til they haunted his dreams. But it sure sounds like he did.

Turn on The Mys­tery Lights at www.the­mys­tery lights.band­camp.com. Also rec­om­mended: ▼ A Weird Ex­its by Thee Oh Sees. You didn’t think we’d make it through the year with­out an­other crazy col­lec­tion of songs from the world’s most pro­lific band, did you? Ac­tu­ally, this is their sec­ond al­bum of 2016, but I haven’t got­ten my hands or my ears on the first one, a live al­bum. A Weird Ex­its shows a wider range for John Dwyer and crew than their last cou­ple of al­bums did. It starts out with a song called “Dead Man’s Gun,” a ri­otous pounder that, in short, sounds like ev­ery­thing I love the most about Thee Oh Sees — break­neck beat, falsetto vo­cals about who-knows-what from Dwyer, strange elec­tric beeps and bleeps. It al­most could be an out­take from any of my fa­vorite Oh Sees al­bums: Float­ing Cof­fin, Car­rion Crawler/The Dream, and last year’s Mu­ti­la­tor De­feated at Last. And that’s true for a few other tunes here, such as “Plas­tic Plant.” But it’s the va­ri­ety of sound that gives a punch to A Weird Ex­its. “Tick­lish War­rior,” for in­stance, is lower and slower, show­ing echoes of the Melvins and the pre-synth The Flam­ing Lips. The spacey “Crawl Out from the Fall­out” is down­right dreamy, a seven-minute-plus ethe­real sound­scape with an edge of the blues. Then there’s “The Axis,” which is slow and sur­pris­ingly soul­ful, that builds up to an ex­plo­sive, dis­torted gui­tar solo. Is this Dwyer’s at­tempt to re­write “Free Bird?” Dwyer gives his throat a rest on a cou­ple of psy­che­delic in­stru­men­tals here — “Jammed En­trance” (the clos­est thing to The Bea­tles’ “To­mor­row Never Knows” I’ve heard re­cently) and “Un­wrap the Fiend, Part 2” (don’t ask me where Part 1 is), which fea­tures a clas­sic Dwyer melody and a suit­ably scream­ing gui­tar.

See Thee Oh Sees at www.theeohsees.com. ▼ M by The Mon­sters. It wouldn’t be Hal­loween with­out some Mon­sters, and the pride of Voodoo Rhythm Records is back with their sec­ond re­lease of the year. It’s the Swiss group’s 30th an­niver­sary and they’re just as mon­strous as they’ve ever been. Un­like their pre­vi­ous al­bum, a re-re­lease of their long out-of-print early al­bum,

The Jungle Noise Record­ings, this is newly recorded ma­te­rial — loud, crunch­ing garage-punk trash with the im­mor­tal Rev­erend Beat-Man out front scream­ing on songs like “You Will Die,” “Noth­ing, You Coward,” and “Baby You’re My Drug.”

“Let Me Spend the Night With Your Wife” is Beat-Man’s take on some imag­i­nary Weimar Repub­lic dirge. “Bongo Fuzz” is a classy in­stru­men­tal fea­tur­ing wild bon­gos. “Voodoo Rhythm” is a lov­ing, growl­ing homage to the record la­bel Beat-Man built, while “Dig My Hair” is sense­less blar­ing noise — and I mean that in the nicest way. I only wish that Edd “Kookie” Byrnes could have been around to sing this with The Mon­sters. I’m sure he would have lent Beat-Man his comb. But the best song on the record is “Happy Peo­ple Make Me Sick.” I don’t know — it just makes me happy.

The third in­stall­ment in The Mon­sters’ 30-year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion will be a trib­ute al­bum, soon to be re­leased. You’ve been warned.

Get at­tacked by The Mon­sters at www.voodoorhythm .com/83-artists/mon­sters. ▼ It’s Hal­loween! It’s time once again for the an­nual Big En­chi­lada Pod­cast Spook­tac­u­lar. Hear an hour’s worth of spooky rock ’n’ roll, in­clud­ing a song from The Mon­sters’ new al­bum: www.tinyurl .com/Spook­tac­u­lar16. And hear all my rock­ing Hal­loween pod­casts at www.tinyurl.com/Big En­chi­ladaHal­loween. It’s all free — a pub­lic-spir­ited ser­vice to you, my read­ers.

Thoug hn obo d y is go in gt o mis­take Mys­ter yL ights singer Mike Bran­don for Lee Fields, there’ ss om etr ue white-boy soul on the band ’ s se lf- tit l ed al­bum.

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