Mighty Tiger is an indie pop band from Seattle, Washington, though its band members come from the Midwest and Southwest. The four-piece ensemble consists of Andy Vaughan (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Zack Leeker (lead guitar, vocals), Mike Lockwood (drums), and Boyd Reno (bass, vocals). Drawing influences from acts ranging from The Flaming Lips to Harry Nilsson to The Beach Boys, Mighty Tiger are known for mixing vintage pop sensibility with an indie rock edge. The group’s debut album Western Theater was released on Paper Garden Records in 2010 and shows off both their wide range of influences, and their own unique style. The featured single off the album “33 ⅓” showcased what range the group has when constructing melodies. The band has toured across the US, stopping at such prestigious festivals like South By Southwest.
Don't let the lonesome banjo or the twinkling pedal steel fool you. Seattle's Mighty Tiger is not a dusty alt-country outfit. In truth, the band is much more interested in the lush arrangements and harmonies of classic '60s pop. But with members originating from all over the mid- and southwest, and convening in the indie-folk-friendly northwest, a tinge of American pastoralism was bound to pass through the ensemble's psychedelic prism. As a result, Western Theater, the quartet's 2010 debut, is something like Pet Sounds if Brian Wilson actually raised the goats on the cover. But what's up with that garishly pulsing synthesizer that starts the first song? Well, something tells me lead songwriter Andy Vaughan isn't above a good tease. After the hyperactive intro makes you think there are disco beats in your future, album opener “Voyeur Heaven” gives way to tight guitars, tumble-crash drums and a melody straight out of the Animal Collective playbook. From there, the band reveals its true intentions: “Rook to King” has a light gallop and a soaring, moonlit chorus; the stunning “Chibi Girl” is “God Only Knows” rearranged for spectral banjo; and the infectious “33 1/3” rides a flouncy piano a la Harry Nilsson's “Got to Get Up.” The melodies are uniformly sweet, even on somber ballads like “Signature Cup,” but there are razorblades in the apples. “I tried to make it right, but goddamn, you can be such a bitch,” Vaughan snaps over lilting melodica on “Ecto Cooler” (finally, someone named a song after the Ghostbusters-inspired flavor of Hi-C). Elsewhere, Vaughan clarifies that despite his obvious love of the Beatles and Beach Boys, he's no wannabe flower child. “Let's go buy organic and never, ever, ever, ever, shop at Wal-Mart,” he sings on the hippie-baiting “Hands in Holy Water,” the sarcasm practically dripping from his lips, “plant ourselves a victory garden in the yard and be pretty satisfied with our smarts.” Things get more dire on the foreboding six-minute closer “A Reason to Keep Breathing.” Vaughan warns that “soon, all will be in flames,” and then, suddenly, the song immolates itself in two minutes of static. It's a surprising way to conclude an album that, for the most part, bathes in hazy sunshine, but then, Mighty Tiger is a band full of surprises.