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Mikal Cronin's self-titled debut from 2011 was all about endings: the end of college, the end of a serious relationship, and the end of his time in Los Angeles, where he grew up. So it's no surprise that his sophomore release MCII and first disc for Merge Records is all about new beginnings. Since the first record came out, my life has changed quite a bit, Cronin says, referencing his move to San Francisco and tours with Ty Segall as well as with his own band. I was presented with a whole new slew of problems and situations that I was trying to work through. Am I Wrong and Shout It Out dissect his fears over a new relationship, while I'm Done Running from You and Weight find him freaking out about what it means to grow up in the 21st century. Other than these few exceptions, Cronin played all of the instruments. It all makes total sense to me, but when I step back, it sounds kind of schizophrenic, Cronin says. Hopefully it all sounds enough like me to make sense. // A debut that will fry your ears and break your heart. MOJO, on Mikal Cronin // Small, but near-perfectly formed. UNCUT, on Mikal Cronin
Top Customer Reviews
It's a remarkably mature album for such a young man to make - the album opens with the line "I've been starting over for a long time.....", shades of a seventeen year old Jackson Browne singing "Please don't confront me with my failures - I have not forgotten them" all those years ago. Musically the songs are beautifully crafted power-pop gems, all lilting vocals and sweeping harmonies, and a dreamy, hazy 1970s vibe pervades throughout. The violin used on various tracks gives the songwriting an added depth, and the closing Piano Mantra hints, as the above review suggests, at all sorts of interesting new directions he could choose to take in future. Anyone expecting a rehash of his work with Ty Segall will be in for a surprise, but those seeking some real grown up pop are in for a treat. Outstanding.
Anyone expecting a collection of frayed sonics will be disappointed then, for MCII is a largely optimistic collection of 10 punchy garage-pop tracks on the theme of new beginnings. "Shout It Out" and "Am I Wrong", for example, tackle the joys and anxiety associated with a new relationship, the sunny surf in the former ringing out between charming power-pop choruses just dandy for the upcoming summer and the fuzzy piano-pop of the latter trying and failing to conceal a sting in the tail courtesy of a shredding Segall cameo.
Speaking of guest appearances, fellow Ty Segall Band alumnus Charlie Moothart (equally of The Moonhearts) dials in the drums for a couple of tracks including the wonderfully racing "Turn Away". And so too does recent Thee Oh Sees collaborator K Dylan Edrich contribute strings on MCII, her country violin a striking counterpoint to Cronin's strumming on the unassuming "Peace Of Mind" - a timely reminder of Cronin's capacity to be more than adept when understated. Even still, he's in pretty uncharted waters come the purely acoustic lament "Don't Let Me Go", a statement made all the more vulnerable when surrounded by the likes of fun-time piano-popper "Weight".Read more ›
Mikal Cronin’s MCII is the closest thing I’ve heard to matching all of Cobain’s own descriptions, being similar in spirit to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York but more in tune with Cobain’s own desire to eschew the commercialism of grunge and play a more down-home brand of acoustic folk. As it turned out, Cobain shot himself, so we were denied hearing how he’d develop as a songwriter, but if you’re curious then MCII is probably the closest we’ll come to hearing Cobain’s unexplored musical leanings.
That’s not to say Mikal Cronin sounds exactly like the grunge legend – vocally, his natural register is higher and more nasally than Cobain’s but considering one of Cronin’s favourite albums is In Utero it’s easy to make comparison. Cronin’s grunge-rooted pop songcraft with added sprinklings of folk and balladry only serve to highlight the lineage to which he belongs, if not more so in his love of Beatlesque melodies and his many nods to scuzz punk and ‘60s sunshine pop.
As an accomplished bass player and member of other bands such as The Moonhearts and Ty Seagall, MCII is Mikal Cronin’s second album and marks the point at which I feel he’s finally ready to step out of the shadow of these other bands and forge a name for himself in his own right.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
with melodies that stick in your head and encourage humming along. Simple, straightforward,
subtly addictive tunes that will earn a place in your listening routine. Includes guest spots from
Ty Segall. Shades of Tommy Keene, Sloan, Nada Surf, Jeremy Morris, Fountains Of Wayne,
Guided By Voices, Redd Kross.
The fuzz hasn't been abandoned, however. Songs like "Shout It Out" and "See It My Way" will immediately shift from light, acoustic balladry to all-out, "amps to 11" grungy garage-rock, without ever losing the sunny-yet-wistful vibe that permeates the album. The lyrics, though dealing in the standard "love" and "loves lost" realm, are top-notch (even if a bit sugary-sweet at times), which is something of a rarity among many modern garage acts. Cronin's mastery of loud-quiet dynamics is on full display as well, recalling 90's grunge more than modern garage, as evidenced by the stellar string-laden rocker "Change."
'MCII' might not have been the album I was expecting, or even hoping for from Mikal Cronin, but after a few listens there was really no resisting his charming, hook-heavy and harmonies-laden power pop. This album finds Cronin stepping out of Segall's shadow, proving he's an excellent songwriter in his own right. Considering he played every instrument on the album--other than the occasional blistering guitar solo from Segall--he's also an immensely talented musician, almost annoyingly so to someone like me who struggles to play even one instrument.
And I have a feeling he'll be annoying more than a handful of songwriters for many years to come.
If you are a fan of either Power Pop or Ty Segall, you should definitely give it a try.
Mikal Cronin's MCII isn't psychedelic, lo-fi, or punk, but it contains bits of all of these genres. Cronin is crafting some pretty concise melodies under the banner of power-pop, but his past influences shine through and help with record differentiate itself from the denizens of other power-pop records out there. The music here is perfectly pleasant and enjoyable. It's actually nice that MCII comes out so close to summer: it will make a great summer listen. While most of the album is pretty uptempo, poppy, and full of guitars, the final track "Piano Mantra" stands out. As its title suggests, it's largely a piano-driven ballad that uses a stringed-accompaniment at times. The song starts slow, but by the end of the track, it becomes a clear Cronin tune. A lot of beauty packed into its 4:45 run time.
I'd recommend this to fans of Big Star, Ty Segall, or the dB's. If you've never listened to music by Cronin before, MCII serves as a good place to start.
Essential tracks to sample/download: "Shout it Out", "Am I Wrong", "Peace of Mind", and "Piano Mantra."