Mikal Cronin at Chop Suey this May (Emily Rose Epstein on drums)
Last week, Merge Records announced that it had signed Mikal Cronin, which is great news for fans of the California musician—and striped T-shirt denizen—since it's the highest-profile label with which he's been associated to date.
The move also represents something new for the North Carolina concern, which hasn't previously staked its claim in the close-knit musical community from which Cronin emerged, a collective of friends and collaborators, including Thee Oh Sees (In the Red), Sic Alps (Drag City), the Fresh & Onlys (Mexican Summer), Sonny & the Sunsets (Polyvinyl), and the Ty Segall Band (Drag City), for which Cronin contributes bass and backing vocals (some of these acts have also recorded for Captured Tracks, Castle Face, Fat Possum, Goner, Siltbreeze, and Woodsist).
I have to confess that I haven't been too enthusiastic about anything Merge has released for awhile now, which can be awkward when most everyone you know is following John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats) and Jon Wurster (Superchunk) on Twitter or raving about Bob Mould in concert (for whom Wurster plays drums). I respect the work they do; I just don't connect with most of it, though the Spoon and Neutral Milk Hotel releases in my collection testify to a past affection.
I'm also friendly with a few people who've worked as publicists for the label, so I'm happy to see Mac and Laura adding more fuzz-rock- and power-pop-oriented artists, like Cronin and Redd Kross, to its roster. As Willamette Week writer Robert Ham (@bob_ham) put it in a recent Twitter exchange, "Yeah, flush with all that Arcade Fire and She & Him money, they can now start getting a little daring."
According to Merge, this is what Cronin had to say about his signing: "YYYYYEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!" Guess he's happy, too.
Cronin harmonizes with Segall
Cronin plays Merge's SXSW showcase in March, and plans to release the follow-up to his self-titled 2011 debut sometime in 2013. He's currently on tour with Segall, including a Seattle stop on Dec 11 with Night Beats at Neumos. 21+, $12 adv.