While covering the Pickathon Music Festival last month, I finally had the opportunity to catch Bay Area musician/songwriter, Mikal Cronin, perform live, something that had been on my list since hearing his remarkable self-titled 2011 debut on Trouble in Mind Records. It’s true that I had technically seen the 28-year-old multi-instrumentalist a few times prior, but always as a member of longtime friend/collaborator, Ty Segall‘s band, and he was never showcasing his own material. I even conducted a phone interview with Mikal last year for issue #35 of Ghettoblaster Magazine, around the release of his critically acclaimed sophomore effort, MCII, which only made me that much more anxious to hear his compositions translated live.
On the last day of the festival weekend, I ran into Cronin while he was watching a Parquet Courts set, along with Segall and Sub Pop recording artist, King Tuff (his new album was released yesterday). During our brief conversation, Mikal mentioned to me that he was currently working on some new material for an upcoming release, material that it seems like we may be getting our first glimpse of already.
Only moments before I started writing this, a new post appeared on Mikal Cronin’s Instagram account with the only text being the words “New songies” and a link to a youtube video which, at the time, had only accrued 74 views/listens. The video contains a static image with the audio of 2 new tracks back-to-back, titled “Don’t Mind” and “Blue Eyed Girl,” respectively. These may likely just be demo versions, but if so, they still seem fairly complete and, if nothing else, very promising, as far as a look into what direction the rest of his upcoming material might be headed. These songs offer a fairly stripped-down approach compared to his garage-psych-tinged debut or even the noticeably more melodic and poppier followup. While Cronin‘s output may not be as prolific as the fellow San Francisco-based cohorts that have appeared on his releases like Ty or members of Thee Oh Sees (John Dwyer and Petey Dammit), neither is that of just about every other artist who isn’t a cybernetic organism fueled by crystal meth. When each of his works do hit the shelves, however, they seem to represent a very thought out, methodically assembled, and complete vision; Mikal Cronin isn’t just writing songs, he’s creating albums. Also of note is that his live shows can easily become just as raucous as those of the other artists within his circle, as his material manages to balance that line of chaotic fuzz with melodic psych-pop earworm, quite admirably. One of his most impressive skills is in his layering of instrumentation to create lush soundscapes, but for these new tracks Cronin seems to be taking a more restrained and subtle approach, yet with equal care and awareness. It’s an approach that, at least through the first listen of only a mere 2 song sample, appears to be working quite well. But… why not just check them out for yourself?
These songs were recorded as part of the Polyvinyl 4-track series. More information HERE.