Has there ever been a record more due for release than Get Right by City Mouse? This soulful pop-punk collective has been diligently playing and touring for over ten years. They’ve remained so incredibly active for such an impressive stretch that I wonder if there’s a basement, bar, or venue they haven’t played within the borders of the entire U.S. They’ve relocated from Riverside, California to Lansing, Michigan and put out countless EPs and splits, but never a full length album… until now. Luckily for us fans, frontwoman and mastermind of City Mouse, Miski Dee Rodriguez, cooked up a monster and set it loose with It’s Alive Records on the unluckiest day of the year – Friday, October 13th. Get Right is a tell-all documentation of a personal journey and provides a glimpse into a life lived at break-neck pace. Let’s take a look.
Appropriately titled, “A New Dawn” starts the album off with a bouncy, uplifting jam that seems to be about the restorative and unifying power of music and boasts machine gun-like drumming. “Back Issues” is a call out song aimed at any liars, abusers, or other general creeps that may be listening or watching the epic fight club style music video that goes along with it. Miski Business silkily sings “You’ve got issues, man and they read like magazines” backed by complementary heavy, chunky guitars. Her expansive vocal range is put on full display on “Guardians,” a nihilistic tune illustrating ideas of there being no heaven, hell, or other divine guidance.
The catchiest song on Get Right has got to be “Exorcise.” The lyric “If you’re picking up the pieces/ just remember they’re who you are/ There’s no day worth forgetting/ It’s the dust that makes up the star” reverberates in my head and encourages pride in oneself, especially in times of self-doubt. “Journal” continues the expert lyric writing by recounting a past manipulative relationship through snapshotting ten pages of the narrator’s diary. It’s punctuated by killer guitar solos provided by guest Phillip Hill, a big rock ending, and a snarky, in-your-face attitude throughout. The band’s versatility comes into play on “Mariposa Venenosa,” Spanish for ‘venomous butterfly’, with a chorus sung completely in Spanish and a building minute-plus long guitar section that you’d be hard pressed to find on many other pop-punk records.
The listener is treated to the motivational anthem “Waiting” to start Side B. The drums seriously hit wicked hard here and seem to pound the line “Time’s running out and I wanna make it count/ Why punch the clock/ Why not rock around it?” into my brain, making me want to immediately pursue my dreams. With references to basement shows, punk house parties, and getting out on the highway, “Olympic” seems to be a testament to City Mouse’s rigorous touring schedule and experiences on the road and is electrified by another awesome guitar solo. “Terminal Disease” starts of somber with Miski singing softly over a lone guitar. It’s a simple plea not to expect too much and in return, the narrator will do the same. “Bad Weather” on the next track references the dark and cold in her heart after mourning a literal death of a relationship she didn’t want to end. It experiments with conflicting tones in the sad lyrical themes and playful guitar licks and drum fills and results in one of the more unique moments on the record.
I haven’t said enough about the bass parts so far, but they’re especially rich and chuggy on “Don’t Stop,” a story of two people that sadly and comically can’t ever seem to be on the same page. Man, do I ever love a powerful album closer, and man does City Mouse ever deliver on “Independence Day.” Everything on this track is kicked up to 10 with every instrument being fully ripped on and layered for extra effect. There’s a stop and start section that accentuates how hard Miski is belting her words about feeling used and refusing to accept it anymore.
Get Right ends on an especially cathartic note and feels like it has taken the listener full circle. In many ways, this album feels like a near complete retelling of Miski’s life over the last ten plus years as the leader of the ever-expanding and revolving cast that is City Mouse. It’s a deeply personal story of growth and renewal, perhaps best illustrated by the stellar cover art by Raeghan Barron which depicts a cartoon version of Miski coming up out of a grave marked by a stone with the album title etched into it. Despite the lyrics being from her point-of-view, they’re remarkably relatable. The songs promote self-care and finding your calling. If none of them move you in some way, you might have to question your own heart.
As far as I’m concerned, these pop-punk veterans really outdid themselves on their full-length debut. If you’re at all a fan of this genre, you need to hear this record. It’s got soul and ambition and electricity. It also perfectly exemplifies their energetic and communal live set. Catch them at Fest or at their current homebase, GTG House in Lansing.