When The Dream Syndicate emerged in the early 1980s, front man Steve Wynn declared, “We’re playing music we want to hear because nobody else is doing it.” He added, “I’ll compromise on what I eat or where I sleep, but I won’t compromise on what music I play.” Both were true, and although their template of Velvet Underground meets Crazy Horse may seem commonplace today – the Syndicate spawned many imitators – their raw twin guitar, bass and drums approach was not common during their initial run during the MTV era. After 23 years, they remerged in 2012 with a slight change in lineup – guitarist Jason Victor replaced Paul B. Cutler and former Green On Red keyboardist Chris Cacavas began adding lush textures previously unknown in their guitar-based music – and recorded How Did I Find Myself Here? The album was surprisingly fresh, and more touring was followed quickly by another album – These Times – which refined the sonic landscapes explored on How Did I Find Myself Here? and further demonstrated that this is a band that is intent on developing with the same urgency that a pack of youngsters would.
Now, the band presents its third album for ANTI-, The Universe Inside. This album could have been called The Art of The Improvisers – The Dream Syndicate were in a Richmond studio after midnight working out ideas when Stephen McCarthy (The Long Ryders) dropped by and became a catalyst for uncharted exploration. In one session, they recorded 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. Wynn took that raw tape back to his NYC home and played it and thought, “My god, there’s an album here, damn it!” Like producers Teo Macero and Conny Plank did back in the day, he sped back to Virginia and edited and sculpted those 80 minutes into an album. Wynn said, “All we added was air,” which is to say that aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion, every instrument is live as it happened. For the first time, every song is a group songwriting effort. What seeps in are drummer Dennis Duck’s knowledge of European avantgarde music, Victor’s passion for 70s prog, bassist Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-fried music collectives, Cacavas’ penchant for sound manipulation, and Wynn’s love of vintage electric jazz. Marcus Tenney (Butcher Brown) provides saxophone flourishes throughout. Is this the best Dream Syndicate album they’ve made? It’s certainly the most dangerous!
“Droning, looping and trippy” -Brooklyn Vegan
“It’s tough to be a weirdo these days. You’re either trying too hard or you’re just failing miserably to stand out in a sea of mall soundtrack slurry. But The Dream Syndicate, weirdos since inception in the best way possible, don’t even take the easy way out and simply comment on how, wow, like, times are tough. We all know times are hard—and sometimes we just need music that itself isn’t afraid to stretch the boundaries of conventional pop to help us get through it.” –Paste
This servicing includes truncated radio edits of “The Regulator” and “the Longing.”
Recommended Tracks: Track 2, “The Longing,” Track 6, “The Regulator (Radio Edit)”, Track 4, “Dusting Off The Rust”
RIYL: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Can, The Velvet Underground, Thee Oh Sees, MIEN, The Rain Parade, Miles Davis
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