Steve Wynn & The Miracle Three

Steve Wynn & Reviews of The Streets and Van Hunt

Former Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn visits the show for a live performance and interview. Plus, Jim and Greg review new albums from The Streets and Van Hunt.

Subscribe via iTunesDownload This Episode

Music News

Jim and Greg begin the show with a discussion of Lollapalooza and other summer festivals. There's Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, but Chicago is shaping up to be the major destination for music fans this year. The Lollapalooza lineup is impressive, with a diverse mix of bands including Lolla vets The Flaming Lips and Red Hot Chili Peppers, indie favorites Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, and Chicago natives Wilco and Kanye West. Plus, the city will be home to two of the biggest independent music festivals: The Pitchfork Music Festival, featuring Destroyer, Art Brut, Spoon and post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma, and the Intonation Music Festival featuring The Streets, Bloc Party, Lupe Fiasco and a rare appearance by 13th Floor Elevators founder Roky Erickson.

interview

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

reviewThe Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (Bonus Tracks)The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living available on iTunes

The Streets The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

The first album up for review this week is the The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, the third album from British rapper The Streets. Emcee Mike Skinner first caught the attention of American fans with his debut album Original Pirate Material and its hit single "Let's Push Things Forward." Its follow-up, A Grand Don't Come for Free achieved a lot of critical and commercial success. In fact, it was one of the top albums of 2004 for Greg. People familiar with these albums will know Skinner's rap identity is that of the average bloke — he typically pairs stories of daily life in England with chintzy beats. With this album, however, Skinner can hardly think of himself as the everyman. The narratives in these songs poke fun at his pop-star status and all the pitfalls of fame. While Jim and Greg find this new take funny, they don‘t find it as emotionally poignant. Therefore, it’s a Burn It from Jim, and a surprising Trash It from Greg.

JimGreg
reviewOn the Jungle FloorOn the Jungle Floor available on iTunes

Van Hunt On the Jungle Floor

R&B/soul singer Van Hunt also has a new album out. His 2004 self-titled debut album was very well-received — listeners could hear the funk influences of bands like Sly Stone and Curtis Mayfield, as well as the more romantic, slow jams of singers like Marvin Gaye or D'Angelo. (And with a pimp for a father and a nurturing caregiver as a mother, Greg muses, Van Hunt's own family parallels his musical influences'.) On On the Jungle Floor, Van Hunt stretches himself more. He makes the surprising choice to cover "No Sense of Crime," a punk classic by The Stooges. And, fans will hear the influence of yet another R&B/funk idol: Prince. However, both Jim and Greg assert that with this release, the grasshopper has surpassed the master, and rate On the Jungle Floor higher than Prince's new album 3121. It's a Buy It for both critics.

JimGreg
dij

Jim

“Alive”Dumptruck

It's Mr. DeRogatis' turn to visit the Desert Island Jukebox, and he ties the show up nicely with a selection from the band Dumptruck. Steve Wynn played with one of Dumptruck's founders, Kirk Swan, during the segment. Swan and his partner, Seth Tiven, put out their debut album D is for Dumptruck in 1994. It was heavily influenced by what Paisley Underground bands like The Dream Syndicate had been doing on the West coast. Dumptruck incorporated more folk rock and power pop into their music than contemporaries, and were also influenced by Big Star, Fairport Convention (who also count Greg Kot and Sound Opinions guest Colin Meloy as fans), and the band Television. Like Dumptruck, Television was comprised of two guitarist-vocalists: Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Jim explains that outside of Television, he has never seen two guitarists work as well together as they did in Dumptruck, as you can hear in Jim's DIJ pick, "Alive." Listeners desiring more Dumptruck should check out Haul of Fame: A Collection, for which our host provided liner notes.

Featured Songs

  1. The Three O'Clock,“With Cantaloupe Girlfriend,”Sixteen Tambourines/Baroque Hoedown, 1983
  2. The Bangles,“Mary Street,”The Bangles EP, 1983
  3. The Long Riders,“Looking for Lewis and Clark,”State of Our Union, 1985
  4. Rain Parade,“What's She Done to Your Mind”Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, 1983
  5. Dream Syndicate,“Then She Remembers,”Days of Wine and Roses, 1982
  6. Steve Wynn,“Tell Me When It's Over,”This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate, Live in Studio
  7. Steve Wynn,“Cindy, It Was Always You,”…Tick…Tick…Tick, 2006 Live in Studio
  8. Steve Wynn,“Amphetimine,”Static Transmission, 2003 Live in Studio
  9. The Streets,“When You Wasn't Famous”The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, 2006
  10. The Streets,“Prangin Out,”The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, 2006
  11. Van Hunt,“The Thrill of the This Love”On the Jungle Floor, 2006
  12. Dionne Farris,“Hopeless,”Love Jones Soundtrack, 1997
  13. Van Hunt,“Ride Ride Ride,”On the Jungle Floor, 2006

Footnotes

lollapalooza.com Lollapalooza coachella.com Coachella bonnaroo.com Bonnaroo flaminglips.com The Flaming Lips' homepage redhotchilipeppers.com Red Hot Chili Peppers' homepage deathcabforcutie.com Death Cab for Cutie's homepage theshins.com The Shins' homepage wilcoworld.net Wilco's homepage kanyewest.com Kanye West's homepage pitchforkmusicfestival.com Pitchfork Music Festival artbrut.org Art Brut's homepage spoontheband.com Spoon's homepage missionofburma.com Mission of Burma's homepage the-streets.co.uk The Streets' homepage blocparty.com Bloc Party's homepage lupefiasco.com Lupe Fiasco's homepage allmusic.com 13th Floor Elevators jimdero.com Jim on Roky Erickson tomwolfe.com Tom Wolfe's homepage amazon.com The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test oasisinet.com Oasis's homepage allmusic.com The Secret Machines allmusic.com The Bangles classicbands.com About The Mamas and the Papas byrds.com The Byrds' homepage matthewsweet.com Matthew Sweet's homepage myspace.com Sweet & Hoffs on MySpace thebeachboys.com The Beach Boys' homepage wikipedia.org The Who allmusic.com The Long Ryders nodepression.net Alt-country HQ uncletupelo.com Uncle Tupelo's homepage sonvolt.net Son Volt's homepage wikipedia.org The Bottle Rockets allmusic.com The Rain Parade wikipedia.org Paisley Park Records allmusic.com Mazzy Star psychedelic-music.net About Viva Saturn stevewynn.net Steve Wynn's homepage wikipedia.org The Dream Syndicate chicagorecording.com Chicago Recording Company ipass.net Black Flag's homepage socialdistortion.com Social Distortion's homepage badreligion.com Bad Religion's homepage wikipedia.org What's post-punk? allmusic.com The Days of Wine and Roses allmusic.com Dumptruck allmusic.com Crazy Horse metacritic.com A Grand Don't Come for Free vanhunt.com Van Hunt's homepage slystonemusic.com Sly & the Family Stone's homepage okayplayer.com D‘Angelo’s homepage allmusic.com No Sense of Crime wikipedia.org The Stooges allmusic.com d is for Dumptruck wikipedia.org The Paisley Underground fairportconvention.com Fairport Convention's homepage soundopinions.com Colin Meloy visits Sound Opinions wikipedia.org Television allmusic.com Tom Verlaine allmusic.com Richard Lloyd amazon.com Haul of Fame: A Collection