Being blown away at his live performance a few weeks back, it is necessary that Mylets’ latest album “Arizona” is mentioned on this site. Opening for And So I Watch You From Afar at the Casbah, Sargent House band Mylets is Henry Kohen, vocalist, guitarist, and master looper. A kid under 21 years of age from Indiana, any listener of his work will leave their jaws on the floor when listening to the dexterous “Arizona.”
It’s one thing to simply listen to his music, but it’s a completely different experience seeing him live. Noticing all the necessary equipment just to perform a single song, it’s unbelievable the work and detail going into his material. With numerous guitar pedals and drum machines, it was amazing seeing Henry going to work on stage. Being in a studio might not be as intense of a setting, but all that went into the songs live are heard in “Arizona.” Starting off with “Trembling Hands,” the listener is introduced to the grungy guitar rhythm layered on top of well placed drum machines. I must admit that the use of drum machines are hit-and-miss for me, as they are usually easily detected and rather simple. In “Arizona,” though, its apparentness is necessary, adding to an impressive low-fi, alternative, and experimental sound. Just thinking of the timing involved to accurately place drum and guitar effects without the song falling apart, I will let the non-live drumming pass.
“Arizona” contains numerous moments of well-performed guitar licks and chops, especially in the title track, my personal favorite. The opening riff that carries the song is very catchy, and is expanded upon as the track progresses. The deep bass of the drum machine in the following song “Honeypot” is a perfect complement to the airy lead guitar in the song’s verses, only to be replaced by deeper guitar rhythms in the song’s chorus. The mastery of his looping is apparent in the song “Ampersand,” clearly outlining the pedals used throughout the album. With such raw power, much of this less-than-30 minute album fights back against the routine and safe sounds of modern music. Despite a lack of clear verses and choruses, the album is still very much accessible to a casual listener. While listening to this album, I can imagine Henry smashing a wall, only to fall to his knees with his head in his hands. Musically this compares to the drastic ups and downs of the album, making their own statements in reminiscing on lost love, or to shove that pain down someone’s throat. It’s clear that Henry is a musical prodigy, but the album also reveals his songwriting skills, proving 4/4 time signatures and verse-chorus structures aren’t necessary to create an intelligent and practical album.
As for the lyrics and vocals, “Arizona” leaves a lasting impression on the listener. With a style of delivery more conversational and retrospective than most singers, the lyrics are more significant. Emotionally blunt, Henry is able to capture the dynamism felt by most kids his age, but instead comes across as and authoritative figure, having experienced the ebbs and flows of life. “Retcon” jumps between softer arrangements and heavier passages with carefree screams. Meanwhile, the song “Seven Seals” features a softer Henry in the first half, with breathy vocals that take a back seat to the song’s instrumentation. The pace changes once the song’s bridge section ends, where Henry calls out with a loud voice in the last minute. With well-placed passages falling somewhere between ballads and exclamations, “Arizona” is a ride you all need to take.
With Henry Kohen’s latest addition to his self-run band Mylets, “Arizona” shows a cohesive thought full of technical arrangements, electronic presences, and passionate vocals. To have released two albums, one under a major record label before your 21st birthday, I applaud Kohen’s current success and future deserved publicity. For fans of This Town Needs Guns, Tera Melos, and Russian Circles, I urge you all to check out this album. You can support Mylets by purchasing both his albums on his Bandcamp page, and by following him on Facebook and Twitter for band updates. I look forward to hearing what this kid can do next.
Check out this live video I took at The Casbah just weeks ago: