It’s no wonder why The Zombies asked Mystic Braves to open their L.A. show last year. While the hometown favorites were barely even a blip on their respective parents’ radars when Odessey and Oracle was released, the psych-steeped five-piece sounds like they stepped straight out of the ’60s. And not in an obvious, someone’s-been-studying-their Nuggets-comps-until-the-grooves-give-out sort of way, either. We’re talking a richer, fuller plot of references (garage-borne greats like The Electric Prunes, The Chocolate Watchband and The Music Machine) that filter the band’s hook-centric purple haze through robust organ rolls, runaway guitar riffs, heat-stroked horns and a rhythm section that can only be described as “restless”.
Especially on Desert Island, a scrappy extension of the self-titled debut Mystic Braves dropped in 2013. From the ravenous opening remarks of “Bright Blue Day Haze”—the first song frontman Julian Ducatenzeiler wrote for the outfit, making it their mission statement in more ways than one—right on through the wild-eyed melodies of “Earthshake,” the filler-free effort is more aggressive than their last album yet about as immediately accessible as vapor-trailed rock music gets these days. It’s sunshine in a bottle, really, which can only be expected from a group with such deep California roots.
“The west coast has it all really—beaches, mountains, deserts, cities, suburbs,” explains Ducatenzeiler, who’s rounded out by drummer Cameron Gartung, guitarist Shane Stotsenberg, bassist Tony Malacara and organist/tambourinist Ignacio Gonzalez. “Our sound is merely a byproduct of the environments we grew up in and the experiences we had. We’re not trying to deliberately channel ’60s music, either; we simply write sensible pop songs from the heart with psychedelic textures and tones. It just comes natural to us.”