Music Reviews

Mystery Flavors Are San Francisco Folk Rock

Mystery Flavors

The Mystery Flavors self titled album released on January 7th 2022. The band is from San Francisco making original music that draws from the rich musical traditions of the city. Their lighthearted music draws inspiration from The Grateful Dead and The Byrds with beautiful harmonies and earthy folk stylings. This is their first full-length album with a collection of songs packed with dreamy harmonies, smooth production and a variety of instruments. Their enchanting style is more than just a revival of the classic west coast folk rock and sunshine pop sound; it also integrates modern folk.

The album is dedicated to the Northern California coastal lifestyle with titles like ‘Poppies’ (the state flower of California) and ‘Great Highways’. The coastal sound reflects the tones and writing styles of other contemporaries from the region including Vetiver, Allah-las, and many more local bands.

California has always been a leader in innovative new music and their biggest splash was the overwhelming amount of great music produced in the 60s and 70s. This folk music scene was best defined by the sound of The Grateful Dead, The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane. Each of these bands had psychedelic folk influences blended with blues, traditional folk from the USA and UK with a hint of surf rock. In the last 20 years there has been a strong underground scene in California that has created subgenres like freak folk, indie folk and cosmic country. Mystery Flavors fits neatly into the modern folk scene by celebrating the past and present.

Mystery Flavors has charming vocals that tell stories about their lives with inspirational choruses, uplifting vocal harmonies and hints of underlying emotional complexity. The instrumental arrangements, backing vocals and guitars are highly considered. They have layers of guitars including strummed acoustics, fingerpicked electrics and slide guitars. The instruments build harmonic complexities that stay true to the key and melodies of the vocal progressions.

The band has four core members with Jeb Gabelman on vocals, guitar, and synth; Seth Snyder on vocals lead guitar, bass, pedal steel and flute; Louie Rappoport on drums and backing vocals; Ryan Elliot on bass and harmonies. Mystery Flavors have created a sound that is all their own while being tied to the history of the genre. This album has good production leading to a clear mix that is enjoyable at high or low volumes. The mix allows each instrument to be heard with certain melodies volume boosted to give a dynamic sound.

Mystery Flavors released their first EP Welcome to Flavor Country in 2018. This album had more rocking sound and was less polished but still was filled with good music. Their first demos were released in 2015 .

Mystery Flavors is just getting started and this strong first release shows that they have more to offer. With our current situation, it’s hard for new bands to get on the road and build fanfare. However, when the time comes this group should have no problems finding their way to the ears of many fans, local and nationally.