Some bands are smart enough to have their names sum up their sound better than any reviewer ever could. That’s certainly the case with Mild High Club.
The band played at the Empty Bottle, a bar and music venue in Ukrainian Village, on Sept. 16. Frontman Alexander Brettin led his fellow bandmates in the reverb-ridden performance, a perfect follow-up to opening no-fi band Troy Anderson.
Mild High Club is just as good live as one could expect it to be. Some reviewers have claimed that Mild High Club’s songs can all sound the same, but that doesn’t ring true for the band’s live performances. The musicians capture the essence of the groove-attitude that lays at the forefront of their music and sway almost synchronously while performing, giving a sedated “Mild High” feel to their performance in all the right ways.
Alexander Brettin formed Mild High Club in 2012, when he went out west and met the Stones Throw Crew, an L.A. based record label. Within a year, he created the demos that would make up the band’s debut LP, Timeline (2015).
Although Timeline was the creative project of Brettin, he soon joined forces with four more band members. Together, they churned out the band’s second full-length album, Skiptracing, which entered another realm of sativa-smogged, psychedelic fullness.
Brettin himself admits to his own stubbornness, which resulted in Timeline being a strung-together album of sometimes monotonous keyboard sounds and guitar chords. But when he decided to abandon the purely instrument-focused realm of music he had been producing, Skiptracing came alive as a more polished and relatable album.
“The difference between Timeline and Skiptracing is detail,” Brettin said in a press release. “My perspective shifted in the sense that I became more self aware of musical tropes and cliches.”
In Skiptracing, the band recreated the static, jazz-ridden sound that characterizes songs from the 70s AM funk music era and current psychedelic groups such as Tame Impala, Sunbeam Sound Machine and Wavves.
Brettin said Skiptracing made up for what Timeline lacked in the lyrical department. The sophomore album became a “private investigation attempting to trace the steps of the sound and spirit of American music,” he said.
And explore the spirit of American music it did. Just as novelist Jack Kerouac explored the American backdoor and disheveled youth, Mild High Club joins the same conversation to produce music that takes listeners on a philosophical journey dripping with existential questions.
Everything about Mild High Club is lazy yet self-assured. The band’s music is at once unassuming and provocative — teetering somewhere between slacker soft-rock and a beautifully produced ensemble.