Coming from the land of Korn and Buck Owens, Bakersfield native Junior Mesa has been busting into the indie scene with his fresh spin on an old-school sound. In his debut EP Peace, we get a little taste of everything from ethereal and jazzy moments in “Intergalactic” to 60’s inspired instrumentation with a heavy emphasis on keys in “Long Title”–all tied together with a dreamlike haze that sits over the album. Mesa is a total musical gumby who can jump from one sonic mission to the next with every track and he does a damn good job with every niche he adopts. Being a multi instrumentalist who taught himself guitar, bass, piano and drums, Mesa’s stab at the emerging wavey genre that so many Gen Z artists are finding themselves in is a refreshing and inventive break from the classic “guy with an acoustic guitar” motif. On July 9th, Mesa released two killer singles “Losing My Grip” and “Creep” that more than deliver on both passion and skill.
“Losing My Grip” offers energy straight from the get-go. Early on in the track, Mesa establishes a pattern that dishes out the same sort of head-bobbing beat The Who’s “Squeeze Box” gives me, gracing this song with an instant feel-good groove. With lyrics half-filled with metaphors and half-filled with teenage truths, “Losing My Grip” is both fantastical and relatable. What really makes it a stand out for me is the touch of flute we get throughout the track and the clever backing vocals that work to add texture to the mix. At about the 1:28 mark, everything simmers down to tease us before bringing us right back up to a solid guitar solo moment to finish things off. “Losing my Grip” boasts stellar arrangement, keeping it structured and savvy throughout while letting go just enough in moments to keep it free.
“Creep” drops listeners into a different world with a psychedelic organ to open up the track followed by a classically Drugdealer-esque guitar solo. I can’t stress enough how much the opening of Creep impressed me and drew me in with its unpredictability. I was expecting the song to keep going up to follow the fanfare of the opening, but when the lyrics come in, that gusto is cooled down to sit in a more conversational pocket. Although the song mellows out to catch an easy groove, Mesa’s little solo licks that come and go underneath his vocals keep listeners engaged with the instrumentation. We again get a bit of a breakdown and come up in this song, but this time with more rawness and transparency that shows us a bit of Mesa’s interior.
These two singles give us a look at two different sides of this complex musician and I personally can’t wait to hear more.