Best known for his collaborations with modern day Marc Bolanite, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin is starting to carve a name for himself with his own homage to the music of old. His debut 2011 LP, Mikal Cronin, was a home-spun affair, a psych-garage rock album that brought the roll back in rock.
This time around Cronin is armed with a full studio production (and major indie label Merge) on the suitably named MCII, a continuation and evolution of his previous work. "The Weight" benefits from the studio soundscape, there’s tight harmony lines and bristling dynamics, but Cronin is wise to not let the song be overdone with studio polish, the raw energy is still there.
Amber Papini’s vocals have a youthful exuberance to them, a half warble-half shout that propels her band Hospitality to energetic heights in their self-titled debut. While “Eighth Avenue” and “Liberal Arts” became fast favorites of indie blogs everywhere, I was drawn to the album closer “All Day Today” which starts with some upbeat syncopated percussion before Papini’s vocals come into play and the arrangement opens into a poppy, swaggering brassy affair. Think of it as a summer distillation of Arcade Fire anthems, with a hook worthy of Springsteen thrown in. Hospitality isn’t trying to break any indie rock molds, they’re just trying to have some fun and it makes it all the better.