Photo by Amanda Koellner
Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
The last few years have been kind to the San Francisco garage rock scene. What started with DIY albums made with Tascam tape recorders has blossomed into a full-on musical movement. Acts like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, and White Fence have won people over with their grimy licks and infectious live performances. But among all these groups, there’s been a secret weapon lurking in the background, and his name is Mikal Cronin.
It’s not like Cronin has really been hiding. He just started to get more attention in 2013 when he dropped his excellent sophomore album, MCII. Pulling back the fuzz just a smidgen allowed us to see his masterful songwriting chops. His bachelor’s degree in music from California Institute of the Arts gives him an exceptionally varied skill set, and he’s put it to good use, using the wide array of instruments at his disposal. To get the full picture of Cronin as a musician, it’s important to not just look at the work he’s done under his own name, but also how he’s supported others. With his upcoming third album, MCIII, out next week, there’s no better time to revisit and sort through those many roles — both in the background and center stage behind a mic. Here’s Mikal Cronin in 10 songs.