Album Review: Pacific Afterglow by Mystic Braves

The members of Mystic Braves have been through a lot through the past few years, and they’re “ready to move on,” according to their artist bio. The band has been making music since 2011, an exciting blend of Psych, Garage Rock, and Surf Rock that harkens back to their major influences like The Zombies, Ultimate Spinach, and, of course, The Beatles.

Pacific Afterglow is their 5th full-length album, showing the band push into new sonic territory with a smoother and even more sun-soaked sound. The band has a dedicated fan base throughout Europe, where they’re touring now, as Greek radio station Yellow Radio FM 101.7 recently featured “Trippin Like I Do” as its Song of the Week. “We’re seeing a lot more people streaming our music in what I would describe as the more sunny, laid-back regions of the Mediterranean, like Sicily, Sardinia, and especially the Greek islands,” Mystic Braves member Shane Stotsenberg said in a press release.

Dreamlike psychedelic sounds from the ‘60s are having a renaissance everywhere, especially in the Mediterranean region. So, it’s easy to see how Mystic Braves would appeal to that area of the world, and their Pacific Afterglow could be a soundtrack to the summer over there, a highly danceable set of songs that would be good picks for any sweaty discothèque night.

About Mystic Braves

Mystic Braves is based in Los Angeles and creates tunes that are a bridge between their psychedelic influences and the present day. They were founded in 2011 under the name Blackfeet Braves by Julian Ducatenzeiler, Dan Solis, and Tony Malacara when they started hitting up shows together in the LA area before meeting Shane Stotsenberg and Cameron Gartung.

The band put out its debut self-titled record in 2013 and gained some popularity in the Southern California scene, eventually opening for their heroes, The Zombies. They released their second album, Desert Island, in 2014 and then ran into an unusual issue. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s former drummer has a band called Blackfoot, and he sued them over their use of the name Blackfeet Braves. So, the band re-named themselves Mystic Rabbits but eventually settled on the moniker of Mystic Braves. “We got bullied by the big boys,” member Ignacio Gonzalez told the LA Times, though they weren’t very upset about it.

Mystic Braves enjoyed some international success with the release of Desert Island and toured the U.S. and Europe several times over the next couple of years. Cameron, Tony, and Dan are no longer in the band, leaving Julian (lead guitar, vocals), Shane (guitar, backing vocals), and Ignacio (bass, organ, guitar, vocals, tambourine) as the sole members.

About Pacific Afterglow

Tracks: 10 songs

Time: 37:10

Pacific Afterglow was recorded in beautiful Malibu with producer Kyle Mullarky (Babe Rainbow, Allah La’s, The Growlers), and it could be the band’s most ambitious album yet. The band ditches the fuzz pedals in this album and goes in a new direction, creating what they call “an immersive and cosmic insight.”

The melodies get stuck in your head, but you won’t mind. It’s a nostalgic tribute to past psychedelia while also feeling very much centered in the 21st century, with meticulously crafted instrumentals and a wave of groovy sounds. And it’s out just in time for the summer, a perfect album for sitting by the pool or laying in bed with the windows open and soaking up the heat.

“Sundown” is the single from the album, a groove-fest and kaleidoscope of different sounds packed into three-and-half minutes that’s racked up more than 232,000 plays on Spotify. The band has been called “The Mexican Beatles” before because of some of the members’ Latin descent, and I imagined The Beatles making music like this if they’d originated from Cali instead of Liverpool.

Previous Mystic Braves’ albums are heavy on the jangly psych sound of yesteryears, But Pacific Afterglow feels much more modern. The more electronic sound reminds me of Broken Bells, but funkier, like spending a night in a SoCal dance hall as the sun goes down and the music flows.

Final Thoughts

This is an album I’ll keep coming back to. Mystic Braves are an exciting act that already has an accomplished career, as they enter their 10th year of existence.

Mystic Braves are firmly established in the psych scene, having collaborated with some big names, such as Rob Campanella, a producer and engineer who has worked with the likes of The Quarter After and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Pacific Afterglow is an excellent record and worth a listen, or quite a few. It’s great that the band is back touring in Europe where they have a following after the drudgery of the past few pandemic years. Hopefully, as the virus fades, there will be more Mystic Braves shows and new material to come.

Standout Tracks: “Sundown,” “Lonely Heart,” “Never Went Away”

Check out the video for “Lonely Heart”:

Support Mystic Braves by checking out their Bandcamp or finding them on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube).

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