Observer: Mild High Club Goes High Vibe on the Pop-Noir Fever Dream ‘Skiptracing’

Mild High Club founder Alexander Brettin grew up playing flute in the
school band and majoring in jazz studies in Chicago. In 2012, a visit to
Los Angeles
allowed him to connect with the Stones Throw crew. Within a year, after
passing the early demos
of what would become Timeline onto Peanut Butter Wolf, Brettin made the move out west.

“The difference between Timeline and Skiptracing is detail,” Brettin said. “I was stubborn with
the process for Timeline; it took almost three years to let go of it.” On Timeline, Brettin resorted
to vague lyrics so as to highlight the music itself. But for Skiptracing there’s both a heightened
thematic aspect as well as more complex musical arrangements encasing it. In Brettin’s
estimation, the album’s story arc is that of a “private investigator attempting to trace the steps of
the sound and the spirit of American music.”

And in investigating the spirit of American music, Mild High Club re-imagine AM radio hits as
blasting in from a parallel universe, the sound of early 70s LA in a smog of sativa. If Todd
Rundgren was the primary touchstone for Timeline, Brettin and band now look to the wry,
trenchant wit of Steely Dan, gazing deep into the dark underbelly of sun-bright L.A. and coming
away with catchy songs underpinned by slippery jazz phrasings.

Dig deeper into the lyrics and imagery and that detective story slowly emerges. But it’s no simple
whodunit? Instead, think The Long Goodbye, The Late Show, Chinatown, Night Moves or any
early 70s inversion of the detective noir genre, where the gumshoe protagonist ultimately winds
up investigating himself, navel-gazing so as to solve the ultimate mystery. Skiptracing is Philip
Marlowe driving around LA listening to Caetano Veloso or that deleted scene in John
Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie where Cosmo Vitelli reads Cosmic Trigger.

In crafting Skiptracing, Mild High Club have made an album that strikes a balance between the
known and unknown aspects of art and creation. While Brettin sought to have complete control
over the creation of the previous album, in opening up and allowing these creative variables in, he
learned a valuable lesson that lies at the heart of Skiptracing itself: “When you wish upon the
unknown, you might be surprised by the rewards.”


8/26, Fri: San Francisco @ The Chapel Tickets
8/27, Sat: Nevada City @ Coopers Aleworks 
8/30, Tue: Los Angeles @ The Echo Tickets
8/31, Wed: San Diego @ Soda Bar 
9/1, Thu: Phoenix @ Valley Tickets

9/2, Fri: Albuquerque, NM @ Town Hall
9/3, Sat: El Paso @ Lowbrow Palace Tickets
9/5, Mon: San Antonio @ K23 Tickets
9/6, Tue: Austin @ Mohawk Tickets
9/7, Wed: Dallas @ Dada Tickets
9/8, Thu: New Orleans @ Gasa Gasa Tickets
9/9, Fri: Atlanta @ 529 Tickets
9/10, Sat: Nashville @ Little Harpeth Brewing 
9/13, Tue: Baltimore @ Crown 
9/14, Wed: New York City @ Baby's Tickets
9/16, Fri: Chicago @ Empty Bottle Tickets
9/17, Sat: Madison @ Frequency Tickets
9/20, Tue: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
9/21, Wed: Omaha @ Reverb Lounge
9/22, Thr: Sioux Falls @ Total Drag
9/23, Fri: Iowa City @ Iowa City Yacht Club
9/24, Sat: Champaign @ Pygmalion Fest Tickets
9/25, Sun: Cleveland @ Ingenuity Fest
9/26, Mon: Columbus OH @ Double Happiness
9/27, Tue: Philadelphia @ PhilaMOCA
9/28, Wed: Boston @ Middle East
9/29, Thr: Winooski VT @ Monkey House
9/30, Fri: Montreal @ Casa Del Popolo
10/1, Sat: Toronto @ Baby G
10/5, Wed: Boise @ Olympic
10/6, Thr: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
10/7, Fri: Seattle, WA @ Office Space
10/8, Sat: Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
10/14, Fri: Joshua Tree, CA @ Desert Daze


related artists Mild High Club