If you look on Discogs, you'll see Melbourne's Mikey Young described as an "Australian musician who frequently masters recordings for bands and labels around the world. He also does production/engineering/recording work." On Bandcamp Daily, Elle Carroll once called him "Someone most garage- and punk-inclined people know, even if they don’t know they know him."

Over the last couple of decades, he's been the mix and mastering engineer of choice for several waves of Australian, New Zealand, American, British and Canadian garage, punk, and psych bands. Young also has a background as a musician, but I'm going to sidebar that for now. Fittingly, given what I'm about to discuss here, in more recent years, Young has provided mastering services to several different Australian reissue (or reissue + new music) labels, most notably Chapter Music, Efficient Space, Austudy Records, and Gazebo, as well as many others overseas. Check out his Discogs page—it's sprawling.

Anyway, I used the term "fittingly" because last month, Efficient Space released a narrative-led compilation album compiled by Young, "Someone Like Me." Narrative compilations, or compilations that feel closer to mixtapes and explore moods or shared feelings as opposed to specific scenes or genres, have been a recurring theme in the Efficient Space oeuvre for a few years now. Check out "Searchlight Moonbeam" or "Ghost Riders" for previous examples.

Across someone like me, Young utilises his self-described "armchair digger" skills to create a 17-song compilation which, as Efficient Space has put it, "unites a geographically unbound cast of real people in pursuit of a meaningful connection." Born from lived experience, these low-budget folk songs (often recorded at home or at discount rates at local studios) bring together a cast of characters from "quiet English counties, Pacific Northwest woodland retreats and the big city bustle of Sydney and Los Angeles." At the crux, it's another exploration of mid to late-20th-century private press records, the cultures that surround them, and the beauty they sometimes capture.

Opening with the mid-1970s San Jose, California-born local folk and psychedelia of Sharkey, 'Someone Like Me' quickly unfolds into a cornucopia of bubblegum rock, gospel, backyard hymns, synth-folk, jazzy country, lounge music and blues rock singles, demos and album cuts so rare you can't even find half of them catalogued on Discogs. These are songs recorded by former chart-toppers operating under new names, freshmen students, U.S. Navy recruits, Seventh-day Adventist quartets, high school seniors, and garden shed tinkers, often united by "the fleeting amateurism of hobby musicians."

Where things get really interesting for me is one-third of the way into the compilation, where Young deploys two rarities sourced from "digital haystacks of Youtube and Soundcloud," Jim Huxley’s buoyant, bedroom psychedelic folk-pop how-is-this-not-a-classic record 'Only A Song' and Charlie Webster's 'Snodland'. A remarkable synthesis of folksy lounge music, Mort Garson-style wandering synthesisers and shuffling quiet storm drums (are they man, are they machine?), 'Snodland' spends over three minutes wandering around in an exploratory instrumental mode before delivering the ultimate payoff, a fragile, wavering and ultimately beautiful late song vocal from Webster himself (I think?).

From there, the vibes flow thick, never thin, with the likes of The Bob Hughes Band and John Agostino delivering songs that sound like they're being broadcast straight out of the feverish teenage dreams of Donnie & Joe Emerson. It's easy to roll your eyes when someone describes a compilation as an embarrassment of riches, but "Someone Like Me" is the real deal. Kudos to Young and Efficient Space for getting it done.

"Someone Like Me" is available on CD, digital and 2xLP vinyl formats here.