Oakland’s Puzzled might be the best thing to come out of the Bay Area right now. Composed modestly of three members—Stephen Taylor, Mike Morales, and Elyse Schrock, together they make driven, melodic pop music.

Their songs, comprised of emotional meltdowns and video games, are earnest and almost childlike. The opening track, “Mario” is easily the most addictive of the album. The combination of guitarist Taylor’s vocals with drummer Schrock’s harmonies evokes comparisons of early indie forerunners Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson and Heather Lewis. However, if possible, Puzzled is far more primitive, with lyrical content that brings to mind super sensitive twee heroes Tullycraft. Songs about your best friend in jail might not be a totally universally experience, but the raw frustration in Taylor’s vocals is enough to bring you in.

But all twee comparisons aside, the music of Puzzled is much more, in a music scene that is often times overdriven with distorted, lo-fi garage bands, it’s nice to hear a change. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect for the depressed hopeless romantic we all secretly harbor inside.

Bring in Valentines Day Eve in with the band, who alongside local acts Joyride!, Sad Bitch, and Void Boys will be performing at the Nightlight on February 13 for the zine release party of Young Hots.


Puzzled, Joyride!, Sad Bitch, Void Boys
The Night Light
February 13, 2015
9 pm, $7, 21+