Mikal Cronin: Seeker (Merge) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, January 17th, 2020  

Mikal Cronin

Seeker

Merge

Jan 09, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Since Mikal Cronin has been playing fresh rock music—whether writing songs solo or in a backing band with friends—for 10 years, I've got a nickname for him: Cronin the Conquistador. Give Cronin a knock on wood, string arrangements, piano, saxophone, or a harmonica, and he'll probably run.

There's joy in Cronin's guitar strings, and doom in some of his riffs. Cronin has been buddies with Ty Segall since high school, and they both influence each other, but that has not a lot to do with Seeker, Cronin's fourth LP. The doomy, low riff in "I've Got Reason," which has an interesting swirl in the middle of the frenzy, nudges at Segall's Melted days, but "it's not like the way it seems," Cronin sings. Seeker is dignified jamming, some Tom Petty guitar ("Show Me"), and fire thematics with live recording microphone-placement ideas from The Beatles' The Beatles.

Desperate but adorable, Seeker's dark, powerful rock comes from a fateful backstory. Cronin says he was stuck, having a few rough years. But he stayed active, touring with other bands (Ty Segall's Freedom band, mostly) and making music through other methods. Cronin was crushed by writers block, explaining his four-year gap between solo albums. He went to the Idyllwild, California woods with his cat for a needed change, residing in a cabin where most of Seeker was written. "I needed to clean up...I needed to grow the fuck up."

It seems that Cronin grew, and with organic energy. His Freedom band friends packed into Jason Quever's Palmetto Studios, and the music is floating, introspective dust. Seeker borders on country outlaw ("Feel It All"), makes a good impression, and features A+ drumming, especially on the mellow hooks and slight shout of "Fire." See, Cronin had to leave his getaway cabin a little early due to a destructive wildfire, but the salvo followed him to Los Angeles. "Caravan" is a toe-tapper, brief saxophone solo notwithstanding.

A lonely piano ballad ("Sold") smack dab in the middle of the album, and an equally lonesome acoustic guitar ballad at the end ("On the Shelf") makes one wonder about Cronin's sadness, but, like I said, there is joy in his strings. Cronin's piano could have come from a saloon, and the instrumental twang could chase water. And all that Cronin did was seek change. (www.mikalcronin.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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