S.F.'s Mikal Cronin at SXSW: Fuzzy, Hooky Garage Rock

Categories: SXSW

Mikal Cronin at SXSW
Mikal Cronin
The Parish // SXSW
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Onstage at SXSW last night, San Francisco garage rocker Mikal Cronin demonstrated why -- after releasing a sole, lauded debut album -- he landed on the roster at iconic indie record label Merge, home to Arcade Fire and Dinosaur Jr., among others.

Debuting several songs from his forthcoming Merge debut, MCII, Cronin proved himself the natural pop tunesmith of the San Francisco garage-punk scene. Cronin pal Ty Segall took several albums over several years to approach the kind of ebullient hooks heard on Cronin songs like "Apathy" and the new "Shout It Out." And you could argue that he's still not quite as natural a writer of hooks as Cronin.

Thankfully, though, the choruses heard last night were soaked in fuzz, noisy breakdowns, and searing guitar solos. These new songs walk the same line of pop satisfaction and buzzing angst, but they're less formulaic than those on Cronin's debut. His lyrics, what we could make out of them, explore issues of self-doubt and vulnerability. "I'm only getting older," he sang during one: "I've been starting over for a long time... I'm not ready for the second wave."

Cronin is ready, however, for his new album to come out -- and it will on May 7. Toward the end of the show, the singer broke his otherwise cool demeanor to gush for a minute. "I'm really, really, really, stoked," he said of joining the North Carolina label. "I'm gonna get a chance!"

-- @iPORT

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