Release Date: Nov 30, 2010
Record label: Yep Roc
In his Eighties band the Dream Syndicate, singer- guitarist Steve Wynn subverted Sixties psychedelia with droning guitars and tangled skeins of lies and treachery, like a Velvet Underground score to a Fifties-noir film. Northern Aggression, made with his long-running Miracle 3, is a new peak in that hard-boiled moral aggression. In "Colored Lights," Wynn sounds like Tom Petty stuck in a desert town with only feedback and attitude to shoot his way out.
For nearly 30 years, Steve Wynn has remarkably -- and some would say stubbornly -- kept his own counsel when it comes to songwriting, performing, and recording, and he has never been one to follow trends or allow himself to be influenced unduly by flavor-of-the-month recording techniques. His solo records, after the Dream Syndicate split, have been consistent no matter what direction he's pursued. While it's true some are better than others, all are worth hearing -- most of them repeatedly.
After moving halfway across the continent this summer, a new friend eagerly played me some songs from his then-unnamed band. I sat in an old basement chair, pretending to enjoy the disc of rough instrumentals blaring out of his cheap stereo. He boasted about the variety of influences in his group, from grindcore to industrial to heartland rock. But what snaked out of the speakers was an awkward smattering of melodic snippets that may have sounded individually promising, but came off collectively confusing.