Mystery Machine – Western Magnetics – album review

Mystery Machine - Western Magnetics (Sonic Unyon)
DL / CD / LP
Available now 

It’s great when a band you love come back after a long hiatus. Even better when they come back with an album that makes you fall in love with them all over again.

Yes! Yes! Yes! When I heard that Mystery Machine were back together and going to release a new album, I said”¦.yes, three times, with exclamation marks.

It’s been a while since their last album, which came out in 1998, not long after the first and only time I saw them live at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver.

Apparently, the songs that make up this album were recorded between 1999 and 2011. Man, and I thought Chinese Democracy took a long time to come out. Anyway, the end result is, well, Mystery Machine.

There are some great catchy, hooky, guitar soaked pop-rock killers (like “Pronto” and the instrumental “Japanese Dads”) that are more infectious than a cold, but far more pleasant and less phlegmy.

These bring back memories of a whole era of great Canadian music in the form of the Doughboys, the Odds, Rhymes with Orange and Age of Electric, all of whom have/had similar sounds. But, they also channel bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. and even Sigur Ros some of the time, with some of their more laid back, moody songs.

The Sonic Youth influence really comes through in how they push the envelope a tad and try out a few new sounds, like the underwater world vocals and slight industrial sounds of “House on Fire”, or the atmospheric drone of “Northern Analog”. But, for the most part, the guitar rules in this band, and I’m glad it does. Plenty of effects and feedback that just sound beautiful!

So, the current Mystery Machine lineup appears to be Luke Rogalsky on vocals and guitar, Bean on guitar and vocals, Shane Ward on bass and Mario Nieva on drums. That means the only original member of the band missing is Jordan Pratt who used to play drums and vocals.

The band started in Chilliwack, British Columbia in 1990 and built up a following around Vancouver before gaining national recognition. How they have fared internationally, I am not sure. They seem like a band that should have done really well, but we all think that about bands that we love, don’t we?

In the end, it’s just great to have a good classic Canadian alt rock band back in circulation, and even better that they have released an excellent new album on one of Canada’s great labels, Sonic Unyon. All is good in the world, even as it seems to be going completely insane.

I don’t know how much longer this is going to last, but at the moment “Western Magnetics” is streaming through Exlaim.ca. Check it out while you can, then go and buy the album online from Sonic Unyon , if you can’t find it in your favourite local record store.

All words by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.

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