I love seeing musician/songwriter, Mikal Cronin steadily gaining more and more recognition for his work, but while there are a handful of things that make me so supportive of his growing success, they all pretty much point to the exact same basic reasoning: he deserves it.
Associated with the same Bay Area Independent garage/psych movement as Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps (now dissolved), and Ty Segall, it seems that it could have been easy to have ones identity get lost among such prolific cohorts. When I interviewed MIkal for a print publication just prior to the release of his critically acclaimed sophomore effort, MCII, in early 2013, he acknowledged that being surrounded by artists that push out such a large amount of consistent material with such regularity can be both inspiring and overwhelming. Still, if what you have to offer is strong enough, your voice will be heard above the noise, and Cronin‘s definitely seems to be proving that point with a sound and approach unique enough to rise beyond a one-dimensional association to any scene, or even the notable collaborators that he’s regularly tied to. While both Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall have managed to earn my respect through their undeniable live performances, it was actually Cronin‘s 2011 self-titled studio solo debut that really hit me upon first listen. In fact, it immediately appealed to me more than anything that I’d heard from either of the other two, at the time, although it’s fair to note that both John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees) and Segall do appear on the release. Still, for a man who has often been recognized more as the bassist of the The Ty Segall Band, in the past, the identity that he’s managed to carve out for himself among these powerhouses is beyond admirable.
While it was a once fertile scene that has given birth to an endless amount of music and provided a platform for a number of talented artists to be heard over the years, San Francisco seems to be dying out quicker and quicker — at least as far as the whole “garage rock’ scene is concerned. Tim Cohen of The Fresh And Onlys is now in Arizona, while both Ty and Cronin are living in the Los Angeles area, along with Dwyer and, Segall collaborator, Tim Presley (aka White Fence), who relocated there from the Bay long before any of them — as any of my friends in that area could attest to, the gentrification and rent has been increasing at an alarming rate. When I ran into Mikal at last year’s Pickathon in August, it must have been right after he migrated south, himself. The multi-instrumentalist told me then that he had already been working on material for a new record, in between touring with Ty and supporting his own release, as he was presently doing at that festival. Along with being an incredibly welcoming and humble character, he’s clearly been busting his ass and, by late September, 2 new songs were already released, neither of which even wound up appearing on his brand new full-length, MCIII, which just hit the shelves only yesterday.
We caught Mikal at The Tractor in Seattle a little over a week ago and, although I haven’t had much of a chance to listen to the new release — he had advanced copies of the limited edition clear vinyl available at the merch table — his new band sounds great and the newer tracks seemed to blend in with his previous work effortlessly. What I can say about it so far is that it’s clear that he’s still focused on moving forward with his sound, while continuing to explore the lush layered arrangements — not to mention, the occasional psychedelic freakouts — that have become his trademark over his two previous solo efforts. I remember when I was first sent my advanced copy for MCII; it was such a departure from the first album that I enjoyed so much, that I wasn’t able to appreciate it for the flawlessly crafted pop effort that it is, initially. Now, MCIII is already presenting itself as an even further departure; one that I look forward to becoming acquainted with and understanding more fully over time.
Last night, Cronin celebrated the release date by presenting an incredibly solid performance on Conan, complete with a string quartet. This morning shows him releasing a video for the same song that he treated the the in studio audience and viewers at home to last night: the lead off track from MCIII, titled, “Turnaround.” The video — a parody of Australian model/soap opera actress-turned 1990s pop star, Natalie Imbruglia‘s, one-hit wonder, “Torn” — features some of today’s greatest comedy talents, including Kristen Schaal (Flight Of The Conchords, The Daily Show, Bob’s Burgers, Gravity Falls, The Last Man On Earth), Kurt Braunohler (The K Ohl podcat), Paul Scheer (Human Giant, The League, The Hotwives), and Jonah Ray (The Meltdown, The Nerdist podcast), along with brief cameos by longtime pals/collaborators Ty Segall and Charlie Moothart, who make up the duo Fuzz. This new video is a product of JASH, a Youtube-based comedy “network” created by Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, Sarah Silverman and Reggie Watts, and their $5K video series which consists of pairing “an up-and-coming musical act with a comedian, gives them $5000, and tells them to spend the money however they want, as long as they spend it all and come back with a video.” The end result is a reflection of the great sense of humor that Cronin, who typically comes across as fairly reserved, demonstrates regularly through his instagram account.
Check the official video out below, followed by Mikal’s live performance on Conan, below.
Imbruglia has, apparently, seen the “Turnaround” video and is a fan…