Monday, February 10, 2014

Mirror Travel - Mexico

Formerly known as Follow That Bird! Austin, Texas' Mirror Travel have grown to become a local favorite, while national notoriety has become somewhat more eluding, thanks to the label nonsense holding their debut hostage for some time and the cement block of their previous band name holding them back some too.

You can almost hear the band's rebirth in Mexico, as the recording of the debut transpired in Marfa, Texas-a progressive high desert community of 2,000 people. The isolation afforded Mirror Travel to focus on their arrangements, and what's finally offered is well worth the wait and well suited for a larger listen.

The extra focus is critical as Mirror Travel mine dreamy shoegaze soundscapes with an honest link to their psychedelic grandfathers. What follows often begins with a few measures of garage rehearsal before opening up the garage doors to pay homage to vast array of desert stars with extended moments of textured jams.

The gnarlier basement blasts are found towards the front, particularly with the rapid-fire "I Want You To Know" and the three-chord/two-thirty title track. By the time you've made it to side two, the tracks start edging past the five minute mark and the additional time unleashes a completely new identity for Mirror Travel.

With "Pinholes," Mirror Travel have made the leap to dream pop bliss even before they double-time everything around the two minute mark and really make it purr. Around minute five, it feels like they might be ready to wrap things up, but then drummer Tiffanie Lanmon puts a little extra umph in her ride cymbal and starts the whole thing up again, until it finally crumbles to a close about a minute later.

Lanmon is a wonderfully intuitive drummer, providing nuances that would have been lost with a heavier hand. Her touch contributes greatly to the airy bounce that compliments the ever-present reverb found on Lauren Green's vocals.

While lacking in noticeable range, Green's voice does offer Mexico a very distinct personality. But it's her guitar performance that is the record's biggest surprise and most impressive contribution. As a power trio, there is a rather large void to fill in the required dynamics of any rock band, particularly one that navigates with such dream pop intentions. And since Mirror Travel rely on matters like distortion very conservatively, Green doubles up her guitar duties with some textured picking that's pretty intricate at times. It's two very distinct personalities when she takes on this role, and it seems to suggest that she's able to adapt her playing, offering a range that isn't noticeable in her vocal abilities.

On "Young Gold" they break out the old "So You Want To Be A Rock and Roll Star" one-two and reprise the whole garage biography before unleashing the album closer "Stoner." Again, there's little beyond a few chords and a questionable beat, but that's enough to muster up some pretty awesome dramatics captured in this West Texas studio.

Mexico resembles the long drive that begins at dawn and ends in the middle of nowhere, perhaps a dangerous spot in Mexico where there's a chance you may not have the necessary means to get back into safe hands. As the record clearly demonstrates, the road leading to this drama is both strangely compelling and infectiously mysterious.

It's no wonder why I kept making repeat journeys with this alluring soundtrack.

No comments: