Artist of the Week: Stockholm One-Man Band Shy Mirrors
Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Shy Mirrors is the solo musical project of former Wolfie guitarist and vocalist, Mike Downey. After leaving the Chicago music scene following the break-up of Wolfie, he packed up and left his home in Champagne, Illinois, for Sweden’s capital city to marry his then girlfriend, a Swedish citizen.
After a rather long hiatus from recording, Downey formed Shy Mirrors in 2010, writing and recording all of the songs on his latest album. He said that he began writing and recording again in 2010 “based on a selfish need to make rock music for myself again after many years of, well, not making rock music.” We are sure glad he jumped back into the fray.
His songs are frenzied, two-minute or less blitzkrieg romps of lo-fi garage rock, punk and pop hooks – a la Superchunk and the The Ramones – delivered with riveting, downstroke power chords, served with a double dose of distortion, and topped off with angst-driven, nasal-like vocals – all of which are aspects of Downey’s signature sound. In addition to writing and singing, Downey also plays, records and mixes all of the instruments on Shy Mirrors’ recordings, including guitars and drums.
Shy Mirrors’ sophomore album, Negative Collector, was released on January 29th, and includes standout tracks like “Rips” and “Discovery Club.” It’s also one of our favorite, under-the-radar rock albums so far this year.
“Rips” - Shy Mirrors from Negative Collector
“Discovery Club” – Shy Mirrors from Negative Collector
Two other tracks, “Last Wave Out” and “Tinted Windows,” were the top trending tracks from the album on Shy Mirror’s Last.fm profile.
Shy Mirrors’ Amazing 2011 Debut LP and 2010 Debut EP
In 2011, he released Shy Mirrors’ spectacular debut LP, Sailed Blanks. The blogger for Willy Obscure wrote: “For better or worse (oh alright, for better) his new endeavor siphons nada from the storied hipster circuit of his new home turf, and for that matter tables the comparatively ‘soft’ tenor of his former Stateside exploits. Instead, the template for Shy Mirrors is an unremitting scuzz-punk surge of blaring distortion and downstroked power chords…”
While one brief, but relentless, track after another sounds very similar to the others, it’s all good if you’re a fan of garage rock/punk enhanced by shots of power pop, as numbers like “Face Paint” and “I’m Not Around” (both from Sailed Blanks) demonstrate.
Downey said he hasn’t performed many live shows as of yet. However, he did return to Chicago last April to play a live show at the Township, featured in the YouTube video below. In addition to Superchunk and The Ramones, as well as Sebadoh, his sound draws comparisons to Ty Segall, Pujol, Jay Reatard, and Jeff The Brotherhood.
He told IRC that he “grew up listening to and seeing Screeching Weasel, Winepress, Pegboy, 88 Fingers Louie and loads of other Chicago and Chicago-suburb punk rock [bands]. Never grew up and still listen to them. Without them, I couldn’t have made Negative Collector.”
In 2010, Shy Mirrors signed with a small indie label, Big School Records, to release Shy Mirrors’ debut EP, Octave, an EP that is a bit more tamed compared to his latest two LPs, as the tracks “Paper Machine” and the title track “Reactors,” clearly demonstrate. Altogether, the EP is a little more than 17 minutes of total playback time. All of Shy Mirrors’ recordings are available via the Shy Mirrors’ Bandcamp page.
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