Mexico City
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Mexico City

Band Rock Americana


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The best kept secret in music


"Brisbane band Mexico City release the first great Australian debut this year."

Brisbane is known for its funky hip-hop scene but it's starting to develop an impressive roots scene too. After a splendid album by the Gin Club comes the excellent debut from Mexico City, who hail from the ragged roots-rock school pioneered by the Stones, the Band, Dylan circa '66 and Crazy Horse. After losing drummer Cec Condon to Sydney duo the Mess Hall, they replaced him with Ben Carstens and worked hard at developing their raw garage rock into rich, multi-layered songs. You Am I drummer Russell Hopkinson (who runs the Reverberation label) hooked the band up with producer Michael Carpenter, who had worked with Sydney pop bands Youth Group and 78 Saab. It was an inspired choice; his melodic pop nous has turned jams into finely crafted rootsy pop tunes. “Apathy”, “Ain't No Lie” and “Like a Dream” are propelled by twangy guitar and urgent vocals, and Adam Toole's torn and frayed vocal is reminiscent of Kings of Leon on the ballad “By Yer Side”. After two impressive EPs, this is the first great Australian debut this year. Keep an eye out for gigs in April. - The Age (Melbourne)

"Shades of country in the City"

Something is happening out in the inner-city rock 'n' roll bars of Brisbane, where some complementary but distinctive bands are starting to flourish. Given this state's vast rural expanses and the number of musicians who move here from the regions, it's curious that something like it hasn't happened more often, as groups with a raw rock 'n’ roll heart mix in acoustic instruments and various shades of country. Albums from Halfway and The Gin Club are spreading the word further than Fortitude Valley, and now Mexico City have followed them into the studio with an album which is thoroughly convincing, especially coming from a band still flying mostly underneath the radar. Of course, it's almost impossible to do anything genuinely new in rock 'n' roll but Mexico City are at least drawing on the well that has all the good stuff. Sometimes they work up a fierce, menacing intensity in the manner of The Bad Seeds, as in “(I Can't Make You) Change Your Mind)”. But this can give way to country-tinged treats such as “By Yer Side” and the slow ache of “When You Say You Love Me (I Don't Believe You)” with its classic piano, Hammond organ, harmonica, lonesome harmonies and luminescent pedal steel from Halfway's John Busby. And you probably won't be playing this kind of music unless you know Dylan chapter and verse, as might be deduced from songs such as “Like a Dream” and “Ain't No Lie”, which steams along with all the ragged energy of the bastard child of “Maggie's Farm” and “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”. Guitarists Simon Radich and Adam Toole have known each other since grade four, and their long-standing schemes for a band finally have been realised with a solid line-up now around drummer Ben Carstens and bassist Mick Elliott. The long gestation helped them find their sound, since their early interests were more to Radiohead than roots. But as Radich says, once you've heard Neil Young's On the Beach, there is no going back. There are things that Mexico City will learn that can make an already exciting band even better; more work on the lyrics for stories and phrases that grip the listener, a little more vocal variety. But when a band arrives with an album as sure of its sound as Black Comedy, the foundations are strong. For a taste, check out the album's stunning final track, “Canefield Blues”, its beauty lingering in the air as if the band had been up all night playing and hit the record button as the morning sun filtered through. Magnificent.
Four stars. - The Courier-Mail (Brisbane)

"Black Comedy is the perfect introduction to the world of Mexico City"

The cover of Black Comedy is the perfect introduction to the world of Mexico City. It's a wash of shapes at first, but on closer inspection the cover art features a row of toy soldiers in marching formation. That symbolism is a good way to begin to understand the Brisbane country swamp group. Mexico City's early shows and first EP were a hazy wash of sound and raw energy. Like the cover art, if you didn’t stop to focus, the group were prone to drone over the casual listener with their rough aural aesthetic and wailing guitar solos. The political suggestions of the cover (war is a black comedy) signify the band has matured. The group have grown from sounding like a Vietnam era protest band, into a growling politically inspired group in their own right. "You'd make a fine politician, because you only see what you want to see" punches the chorus to “By Yer Side”, turning an otherwise outstanding, slowburing country ballad into a tense and fiery affair. While tracks like the storming opener “Change Your Mind” and “Ain't No Lie” have a heel-toe saloon style swagger to them, Black Comedy also takes the slower melodic path without drawing the songs out to boredom, instead punctuating them with precise instrumentation and cutting lyrics. It's an impressive effort for the band's first album. There's variety on every track, but the record is held together by fine production work by Michael Carpenter (Youth Group, 78 Saab, The City Lights) giving the record a summery, strung out in the afternoon sun kind of feel. By the time you reach the last track, “Canefield Blues” - a perfect closer with plucked guitar rousing to a climax then petering our with a wash of organs - you will be convinced that Mexico City are the most exciting thing to come out of Brisbane since XXXX beer. - Drum Media (Sydney)

"Roots-rockers Mexico City step up to the plate"

After a couple of encouraging EPs Brisbane roots-rockers Mexico City have really stepped up to the plate on their debut album, paring back the rough edges of previous efforts to reveal a strength of songwriting and performance yet unseen on record but which has been evident in their live sets for quite some time. Loads of catchy melodies combined with singer Adam Toole’s ragged but emotive vocals will make comparisons to contemporary acts like Kings Of Leon inevitable (though hardly a problem), but in reality the band is mining the richer, more historic territories traversed by luminaries such as Dylan (see “Ain’t No Lie”), Neil Young (the aching “Carolina”) and the shambolic glory of The Band (“When You Say You Love Me”). These names are thrown around frequently in reviews but seldom are they so warranted, Mexico City effortlessly summoning the aura of these acts without being slavishly derivative in any way. The production of Michael Carpenter complements the music nicely, giving the disc a warm, lived-in feel that still allows the punchier moments to shine through. A fully-realised and excellent album that turns potential into reality and will go a long way towards seeing Mexico City move into higher echelons of the Australian scene.
Four stars - Timeoff (Brisbane)

"Just gimme the bottle, barkeep!"

Brisbane’s Mexico City have enthralled local audiences for some time with their dark, bluesy rock and have proven what a talented bunch they are on this moody, impressive and diverse collection of songs. They’re noted Neil Young fans, and there’s certainly a Crazy Horse feel to the jammed-out finale to “I Stepped Outside”. But what makes Mexico City such a distinctive band is their ability to blend their influences with their own stamp and identity. Hence, there are echoes of Kings of Leon’s swamp rock in “Ain’t No Lie”, without the track ever coming close to plagiarism. Similarly, you can hear the Stones on at least two occasions (“Wild Horses” in the cry-into-your-beer ballad “By Yer Side”, “It’s All Over Now” in “Like A Dream”), and The Band circa Basement Tapes in “Babe, Hold The Phone”, but again the band harness these sources into their own sound, instead of just stealing riffs. Excellent.
Four stars - Rave (Brisbane)

"Here's the antidote"

For any old school rock dude who can't help but look suspiciously at a band like Wolfmother and wonder how it is that prog-rock became cool again, here's an antidote. Brisbane fourpiece Mexico City hang out on the intersection where three genuinely seminal artists might have met in the late 60s: they channel Neil Young and Crazy Horse's epic garage workouts (“Carolina”, “Babe, Hold The Phone”, “I Stepped Outside”); The Stones' mournful ramshackle Exile On Main Street balladeering (“When You Say You Love Me”, “By Yer Side”, “Canefield Blues”); and Dylan and the Band's rollicking countrified blues (“Ain't No Lie”, “Like A Dream”). If you appreciate any of those legends, here's a band that bravely, confidently, and completely unselfconsciously takes you back to their heydays. The strength of Mexico City, though, lies less in the way it wears its influences on its sleeve, and more in what it does with them. Black Comedy is a compelling record in its own right. The ballads, dark, beautiful, and aching, will resonate with anyone who ever loved, or fought, or broke up; in the rock tracks, meanwhile, you can hear the guts that got busted drawing out the blood and the sweat. The only contemporary reference on this record is that vocalist Adam Toole's world-weary tonsils sound eerily like the Kings Of Leon's Caleb Followill. Everything else is classic, baby, and for all the right reasons. - dB Magazine (Adelaide)


Goddamn! That's all I can think of after listening to this. Mexico City speak the universal language of Rock And Roll, a language spoken well so rarely these days that it's heading the way of Latin and Esperanto. Mexico City are also universal in the sense that it is impossible to pinpoint a country of origin (Australia, Brisbane - the home of Halfway and The Gin Club also. That's one fine selection of bands there!). They may sound like they are some kind of Dandy Warholesque rip off merchants without an original idea of their own, a highly paid covers band, but with the exception of "Ain't No Lie", everything on here is played in the spirit of ‘67 but through their own filters. So you get some classic mid period Stones drinking songs ("When You Say You Love Me" especially) and some Crazy Horse-isms ("Carolina", "Hold The Phone") as well as the aforementioned "Ain't No Lie", which manages to re-write Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album in under 3 minutes (to be exact it is the music from "From A Buick 6" matched with the vocal line from "Ballad Of A Thin Man"). But Dylan fans don't miss "Apathy", whose starting point HAD to have been "All Along the Watchtower", yet it somehow manages to morph into a classic Died Pretty number (even with some Brett Myers sounding guitar work!)...and in the case of "Ain't No Lie", the rip-off is SO perfect that it's actually breathtaking. In lesser hands this could have come off as embarrassing, but this is actually a force of nature! Hunt it down. Get it now. - JB Hi-Fi website

"Young Aussies cop moves from Dylan, Young"

Mexico City are from Brisbane, but their musical antecedents are clearly the best of a certain era of classic Americana: pre-80s Bob Dylan, Crazy Horse-era Neil Young, the golden age of the Band. “Ain’t No Lie” follows the spirit and melody of “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”; elsewhere, some excellent guitar lines peal out like they could be lifted of Young’s On the Beach or Tonight’s the Night. But this is no slavish tribute: strong playing beneath Adam Toole’s warm, grainy vocals make the songs their own. - Rolling Stone


Black Comedy LP (2006)
Lost Gospel EP (2004)
Big Black Car EP (2003)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Dark garage country rock for fans of The Drones, Dylan, Magnolia Electric Co, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Neil Young.

Mexico City formed in Brisbane, Australia, in 2001, lifting their moniker from the name of the rundown dockside bar featured in Albert Camus' classic novel, The Fall.

The four-piece soon set about exploring that great tradition of songwriting, where rock n roll lays down besides country, blues and soul, and figures like Dylan, Neil Young, the Stones, Creedence and The Band reign supreme.

In early 2006, Mexico City released their debut album Black Comedy through Reverberation, the indie label and distribution company run by Rusty Hopkinson (You Am I, Radio Birdman) and Ian Underwood (Kryptonics, Challenger 7).

The album, produced by Michael Carpenter (Youth Group, 78 Saab, The City Lights), swiftly earned the praise of music critics across the country:
- "This is the first great Australian debut this year." The Age
- "Magnificent. Four stars." The Courier-Mail
- "The most exciting thing to come out of Brisbane since XXXX beer." Drum Media
- "A fully-realised and excellent album that turns potential into reality.” Timeoff
- "Classic, baby, and for all the right reasons." dB Magazine

But it was a chance meeting with Hopkinson back in 2002 that first set the wheels in motion.

After an exchange of tapes and emails, Mexico City were given the opportunity to release a record on Hopkinson’s boutique indie label, Illustrious Artists, which had previously released records by The Vines and The Pictures.

The first fruits of this new union was 2003's Big Black Car EP, which Drum Media described as "The Eagles waking up after a three-day amphetamine and tequila bender. Beautifully bleak."

In 2004, the band released their sophomore EP, Lost Gospel, this time through the ever-expanding Reverberation empire. The EP moved Timeoff to declare, "Mexico City are the reason the phrase 'A little bit country, a little bit rock n roll' was invented. Mexico City mop the floor with Kings of Leon, stupid beards/haircuts and all."

Hopkinson said it was at this point that Reverberation put the band in touch with Michael Carpenter, whose melodic nous and love of guitar based pop would prove to be a complimentary counterpoint to the heavy manners of Mexico City's country noir.

"The result is Black Comedy, a rich and textured album that takes in everything from '66 Dylan through their beloved Crazy Horse and even occasionally landing back in the garage where it all started," Hopkinson said.

"At times mournful, the album's dark mood is offset by the rich melodic texture these songs are imbued with, every once in a while catching flecks of joy lurking in the shadow.

"The result is an expansive and impressive debut album that lives up to the promise shown over the space of two well received and critically acclaimed EPs."

Mexico City have also built a strong reputation through their live shows including supports for international acts The Black Keys, M Ward, Jason Molina, Band of Horses, Lou Barlow, Jay Farrar, Richmond Fontaine and Tony Joe White, and Aussie bands like You Am I, The Drones, The Mess Hall, Bluebottle Kiss, and Youth Group.

All Mexico City releases are available through Reverberation.

For interviews, bookings, rants or raves contact Simon Radich via email at or by phoning 0432 230 383.