Lisa Mychols

Lost Winter's Dream

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Well before she became the leader of great Los Angeles pop quartet the Masticators, Lisa Mychols was just plain Lisa and recorded this trippy Christmas album to trump all other Christmas albums this side of A Christmas Gift for You. In fact, the soon to be renowned Los Wondermintitos (production pseudonym of Darian Sahanaja and Nick Walusko of fellow L.A. band par excellence the Wondermints) play a less Svengali-ish Phil Spector to Mychols' pure, angelic Lesley Gore or Little Eva, although the album goes well beyond the limited confines of girl group melodrama and the Wall of Sound. It also dips into swaggering go-go swirls ("Closer to Jerusalem"), swinging holiday psychedelia ("Look On" and "X-Mass = Tyme²"), surf rock ("Bernie's Third Christmas"), weather-beaten ballads ("Christmas Came Too Soon"), and one freakish klezmer jig ("Jack Frost") that could even get Jesus hopping. Sahanaja and Walusko invent arrangements or productions that recall those of Brian Wilson, Nelson Riddle, Bob Crewe, Shadow Morton, and other legends of an era when pristine and puppy dog tailed pop exploded from AM radios with an exuberance that has become impossible to imagine in the more cynical decades since. Lost Winter's Dream is very much a return to an early-'60s pop/rock innocence in which far-out, retro-futurist reveries shimmied from quiet suburban split-levels clad in space-age, cathode-ray cool. Mychols' own songs are in the grand tradition of Goffin/King and Barry/Greenwich: instantly memorable melodies, often with a twinge of the bitter and the heartbroken that belies their surface sweetness. The original release included the added gift of five bonus tracks, four of which are superb covers -- renditions of Lulu's "To Sir, With Love," Petula Clark's "A Sign of the Times," Skeeter Davis' "The End of the World," and Connie Stevens' "Sixteen Reasons," all belted out by Mychols as if they were written distinctly for her. If diverging somewhat from the album's festive slant, they certainly fit in with the sonic mood of the whole undertaking. To call Lost Winter's Dream only a Christmas album, however, doesn't really do it justice, although it certainly works wonderfully in that capacity. Its pleasures and charms are far more wide-ranging and pervasive. Indeed, it is an album that brings the oasis of chill and crystalline daydreams to every season, a delightfully refreshing peppermint for the ears.

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