Personnel: Mike Brandon (vocals, guitar); Luis Alfonso Solano (guitar); Kevin Harris (organ); Nick Pillot (drums).
Audio Mixers: Gabriel Roth; Wayne Gordon.
Recording information: Daptone Records (2015).
Photographer: Sacha Lecca.
West Coast natives Mike Brandon and Luis "L.A." Solano have been tweaking their version of fuzz-toned garage and psychedelia since their high-school days in Salinas, California. Over the years, the Mystery Lights underwent a number of lineup changes and a cross-continental relocation for their founding members before settling down to work as a New York band marrying city punk grit with classic garage fervor. With a handful of EPs and one full-length behind them, the retooled lineup eventually found home on retro-minded Daptone's rock imprint, Wick Records. In fact, the Mystery Lights are the label's inaugural release, and from the sound of their 2016 self-titled LP, they've landed in the right spot. Tonally, the album is a bit of a time capsule as the Lights go whole-hog down the Nuggets-era rabbit hole. The chirping Farfisa organs, the biting reverb-soaked riffs, and Brandon's rasping yelps all feel unearthed from some mid-'60s vault. After an instrumental fanfare of an intro, they make their opening shot with "Follow Me Home," a gritty, minor-key rocker with some solid group call-and-response backing vocals and enough sweaty menace to mean business. With its snaky organ and stuttering vibrato, the midtempo "Candlelight" again dances around in a minor key before revving up into a frantic freakout in its latter half. The Mystery Lights give off the feeling of a wild and even dangerous live band and it comes across here on record. ~ Timothy Monger