Release Date: Sep 8, 2017
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, American Underground, Jangle Pop, College Rock, Paisley Underground
Steve Wynn will never be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He’s too good, his career too varied, and he has influenced all the wrong people to earn enshrinement in that monument to corporate-approved rebellion. All of this is to compliment his ongoing and stubborn conviction to follow his muse and artistic vision. Wynn remains a restless spirit, not afraid to take chances and carefree as to whether his efforts inspire critical praise or scorn.
The Dream Syndicate’s first album in 29 years, How Did I Find Myself Here?, is the best kind of nostalgia kick: It effortlessly recalls the band’s much-too-short original run while also settling into a lived-in, comfortable groove. The album assuredly follows the template of the band’s first two classic albums, 1982’s The Days of Wine and Roses and 1984’s Medicine Show, both of which alternated wiry, caustic rock songs with hazy, slow-burning jams. A lot, naturally, has changed since then, including the band’s lineup.
The Dream Syndicate were once on a par with R.E.M. as revivers of 60s rock’s dark and pretty essences in the hostile 80s. Their small, fervent cult stayed steady enough to encourage a live reunion in 2012 with rejigged personnel, and now this first album since 1988. Band leader Steve Wynn is a fine solo songwriter. 80 West is nasty LA noir with a body surely in the boot, haunted by Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Deadly and Mulholland Drive; in contrast, Like Mary is a quiet vignette of breaking lives, mourning a woman who wants to get lost.