Mikal Cronin - MC II
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If you only know Mikal Cronin as a member of Ty Segall's band, you might be in for a shock on his debut album for Merge, 2013's MC II. But then, if you picked up Cronin's self-titled 2011 album on Trouble in Mind, you might also be in for a bit of a surprise. See, Cronin doesn't go in for noise freakouts or skuzzy garage rock, as you might expect, he's more of a power popper with an ear for a pretty melody. He's also cleaned up his sound quite a bit on this record with far less reverb and surface noise scuffing up his songs. Cronin and producer Eric Bauer go for a very layered approach that mixes acoustic and electric guitars and features Cronin's nice falsetto harmonies over the top. It makes for a very adaptable sound, perfect for uptempo rockers (like "Shout It Out" or "Turn Away"), midtempo janglers ("Weight," "Am I Wrong"), or introspective ballads ("Peace of Mind.") And despite Cronin playing all the instruments (save the occasional guitar solo by Segall, some drums, and occasional violin), it's a very live and direct feeling record with none of the sterility you often find with one-man band projects.