LIFE'S NEVER BEEN SO REAL - The Mystaken (Rock Against Bullshit/Reverberation)
Having seen some of The Mystaken's the earliest gigs in Melbourne, I can vouch that the band's debut CD "Life's Never Been So Real" (on the heels of their first 7" single, a few years ago) shows the natural evolution of the band through changes of personnel. The founding duo of vocalist/guitarist Sally Bailey (ex-Small Hand Gun) and bassist/vocalist Maria Sokratis (ex-The Boyettes) remains, now joined by drummer Kati Bishop (replacing original drummer Pin) and guitarist Jeff Baker.

I always found the band's loyal was drawn to the natural charisma and personality of Sally Bailey, and this factor is amply in evidence over several of the songs on these 12 tracks. "Probably Get" opens the disc and showpieces Sally's distinctive and charismatic vocals as the band plays a curious mix of '60s jangle-meets-'80s indie rock.

"Watch out Girls" is the first of a few tunes with bassist Maria on lead vocals and is a short, sharp and energetic '60s garage-inspired workout, featuring organ from guest (and producer) Ernie O. "Got it Made" is a highlightwith Sally warning against complacency amongst the well-off. "Midnight Rat" finds Sally at her lyrical best, and the band rises to the occasion. "Mary and .." is another Maria song , this time with guest Matt Mahoney on brass.

Guitarist Jeff Baker's addition tot he ranks proves a smart choice; with his lead work meshing well with the sound of the band. Jeff also contributes a composition of his own in "Girl Mystaken" and it provides some some light and shade, windong back the tempo and featuring dual lead vocals from himself and Sally Bailey.

In what would seem a peculiar choice of cover, we're hit with a take on (veteran Oz-rockers) The Angels' "No Secrets". The Mystaken pull it off in their own unique way, somehow asserting definitive ownership. A tune I recall from The Mystaken's earlier period, "Kids", follows and is arguably the highlight of the album, as Sally wonders why kids these days do not want their R. O. C. K. as much she does. There's even a musical and lyrical detour into rock classic "Wild Thing".

The Mystaken's "Life's Never Been So Real" is another Melbourne underground rock triumph and is one for those who care to seek it out. - Simon Li