Looking back with Selections from the Psychic’s Museum 2006-2016
Charles Foster Kane had his sled, Rosebud. I, your friend and humble narrator, have the most prized possession of my early adolescence, the venerable and lost-to-history boom box. A few years ago when nostalgia first started rearing its ugly, wonderful head in earnest, I went a-lookin’ and eventually found the precise make and model of my first honest-to-goodness portable stereo on eBay. I only had to place one bid (apparently there isn’t yet a huge market for thirty-year-old tape players) and after a little TLC and some new drive belts, the lovely little machine was restored to its full 1983 glory.
There are two reasons I elected to start off this week’s column with that particular bit of exposition. First, the acquisition of the original machine back in 1983 marked the first time I was ever fully free to explore music on my own. Second, the re-acquisition of that machine all these years later has given me the perfect vehicle for enjoying the latest release by Mythical Motors, Selections from the Psychic’s Museum 2006-2016.
Selections from the Psychic’s Museum 2006-2016 is a collection of some of the best Mythical Motors tunes spanning the last decade and Fall Break Records (of Athens, GA) is releasing the compilation on—wait for it!—audio cassette.
For you younger folks, a cassette was my generation’s version of the MP3, falling in line between the 8-track tape and the compact disc. It’s hard to appreciate now how revolutionary (and vitally important) the cassette was in its day but the main take away for our purposes right now is that it gave a generation of young bands a cheap and easy means of distributing their own music.
The marriage of the vintage medium to this retrospective on the work of Mythical Motors is a perfect match because even though 2006 was well in to the digital age (and past the era of cassettes) the music of Mythical Motors has always had a vintage sound. I’ve used a lot of words describing the band’s music in other columns, (“too pretty for punk, too punk for pop,” is still one of my favorite turns of phrase) but it all comes down to two words: New Wave.
Defined as “a style of rock music popular in the 1970s and 1980s, deriving from punk but generally more pop in sound and less aggressive in performance,” New Wave is a perfect description of Mythical Motors and the anachronistic audio cassette is the perfect medium for their deliciously retro sound.
Available May 17th, the album features an impressive 22 songs that encapsulate ten years of Mythical Motors evolution. The songs are short and punchy, the lyrics are intelligent, the guitar work is a flawless mix of clean and dirty and the vintage feel of the band is spot-on for those of us who are ourselves vintage enough to remember when New Wave was new.
From “36th Street” to “So Sets the Summer,” the compilation is an immaculate collection of music that lovingly recreates a time when punk music hadn’t been fully tamed and pop actually had a soul.
True enough, you’re going to need a cassette player to hear this music, and while cassettes will never make the comeback that vinyl has, to hear this band and this album it is absolutely worth it to start digging through the attic or cruising the vintage electronics of eBay to hear it the way we first heard it so long ago.