Last year Mississippi Man busted out of Fullerton with a truckload of sweet melodies, endearing harmonies and a twangy EP, “The Snake Oil Salesman” that earned them immediate comparisons to indie folk/blues merchants Delta Spirit and Cold War Kids.
Since, they’ve had a flirtation with an indie record label, played a mess of shows and slowly worked on a full-length – all the while trying to keep smiles planted on their faces. “The cool thing is, we’ve taken a lot of time,” says David Knight, who with Luke Messimer is one of two singer-guitarist-lyricists in the band. “We wrote the songs, we toured them, and I think there’s more maturity to them.”
- ||| Download: “Books & Teachers” [audio:http://www.mediafire.com/file/gnjycymnvz2jzww/Mississippi Man_ Books & Teachers.mp3]
Maturity, yes, and surprising optimism.
The album is titled “A-OK,” and it’s the sprightly, ’60s- and ’70s-indebted work of five guys who obviously aren’t given to mopery. “We had all this stuff happen to us about four months ago,” Knight says, “We kind of got through it, and at practice once day someone uttered ‘I guess everything is A-OK now,’ and the title stuck.”
With Knight and Messimer twining their boyish tenors, Scott Rabjohns and Patrick Haag keeping the rhythms jaunty and keyboardist Santino Lighthouse adding some barroom piano lines, the loose-limbed “A-OK” has more in common with Dr. Dog or early Shins than any slide guitar-wielding outfit.
“Our EP was definitely folk-rock, but I feel for one reason or another we’re moving away from that,” Knight says. “The influences are still there, but our new songs are more poppy sounding than folky.”
The songs, composed largely as a group and representing the differing lyrical approaches of both Messimer and Knight, do reveal a get-to-the-hook sensibility, as well as crisper harmonies. “Raymond [Richards, who produced part of the album] kept telling us we had to practice harmonies at least an hour every time we’re together,” Knight says. “A lot of bands don’t realize how much practice harmonies take.”
It’s paid off in “A-OK’s” upbeat feel.
“I don’t know if [optimism] is in vogue,” Knight says, “but it is with us.”
||| Live: Mississippi Man are currently holding down the Monday night residency at the Echo. Next Monday, Wires in the Walls, Buddy and Big Whup support. (Mississippi Man also plays tonight at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.)