A few years back, I was introduced by the music of 2 musical friends and their associated musical projects. One was the Miserable Chillers project by Miguel Gallego, the other was a project by his friend Kabir Kumar (Sun Kin) who happens to collaborate with Miguel frequently. Since I was really charmed by both their musical endeavours and personalities, I approached them to contribute to the Fadeawayradiate compilations, which they have quite a few times by now. The first track I heard by Miserable Chillers was “Night Time In The Old Homes” from the album “A Flower You Would Like to Eat“, and I instantly fell for Miguel‘s distinctive, deep but casual timbre: coming eerily close to of some of the best voices in 80’s pop (think young, more lo-fi David Bowie). Miguel confesses that his sound is “a product of afternoons spent listening to Prefab Sprout, Clube da Esquina, and Kate Bush“. True: one can comfortably trace influences from the past in his songs, but in the end, they cannot be pinned down as easily as most recycled pop. The Miserable Chillers‘ compositions and arrangements are pretty fluctuating and unpredictable, but they always seem to land on their feet makes total sense as whole. They have the true trademark of timeless popsongs and not just some retro fads.
Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Gallego grew up in suburban New Jersey to parents from Mexicali, in Baja California.
Miguel’s fascination with songwriting began in his teens, and some years later he started working under the moniker Miserable Chillers and became more active in NYC’s music community. He went on to release 3 EPs and a few split EP’s, sculpting his craft along the way. Miguel recently released his debut album Audience of Summer which was recorded, produced, and mixed by himself, with additional sound-design by composer/producer Connor Hanwick. The album also features contributions from friends and collaborators like Jeremy Stoddard Caroll on pedal steel guitar, Sarah Goldfarb (Red Widow, Ovaeasy) on cello, Megan Braaten (You’re Sister) and, of course, Kabir Kumar (Sun Kin) on backing vocals.
The first track on the album, Saga‘s Sword, was released as a single on July the 31st, and definitely takes its timeless (but also very 80’s) pop influences from Sophistipoppers like Blue Nile and Danny Wilson, softly backed by translucent Wendy Smith-esque backing vocals. The summery and suave “La Nave Del Olvido” hangs somewhere nicely in between Louis Philippe and Prefab Sprout, whose typical signature chord progressions (Paddy style) are also detected in the stunning City of Eyes, a piece that reminded me a lot of “‘Til The Cows The Cows Come Home” from Protest Songs. “Calendar for Annie” could be best envisaged/described as a flamboyant scene with Japan-esque verses and a strong undercurrent of Steely Dan‘s quirkiness and harmonies in the chorus. Throw some surf guitar into the mozaique and you might get the picture. In the gorgeous ballad “Antipodes” I most definitely hear traces of The Blue Nile‘s “Over The Hill Side“, and Kate Bush’ “Cloudbusting“. Don’t get me wrong: these are merely my personal highlights and all afore-mentioned references might mean something to an old woman with an accumulated jukebox of musical references in her head, but I must stress once more, that this certainly doesn’t mean that there is no originality Miguel‘s work. The musical references here are part of a whole that is quite cleverly stitched together to form a sonic quilt fabricated by someone with a golden thread, who just happens to be one of the best sound-weavers around, right now.