The Dream Syndicate - These Times - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Dream Syndicate - These Times

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2019-05-03
The Dream Syndicate - These Times
The Dream Syndicate - These Times

Band reunions are no big news these days, and most of the time they turn out to be lame attempts at previous glories and cash-ins with most of the original members missing.

With the Eighties cult favourites The Dream Syndicate who reunited back in 2012 there weren’t exactly that many financial cash-ins to go for anyway. They did come up with at least two iconic albums (the others were ranging from very good to excellent) - “The Days of Wine and Roses”, one of the best albums of any decade of rock, and “Live At Raji’s”, one of the most exciting live albums, period. They were instrumental in the psych revival of The Eighties, combining the original West Coast Sound with the Velvet Underground/Lou Reed New York attitude. Not that it did them much good financially, they became and remained critics and cult faves.

With the reunion even most of the original band members were back, at least for a while (original bassist Kendra Smith, herself responsible for Opal and some cool solo psych albums), was around for the 2017 album “How Did I Find Myself Here”, but band’s founder Steve Wynn, Mark Walton and Dennis Duck were there as was guitarist Jason Victor, his collaborator in the solo projects he did in the meantime. Another excellent album, no big splash.

Two years on, and Wynn and the band are back with “These Times”, joined this time around by Chris Cacavas, another cult fave, either as a member of Green On Red or from his solo projects, and Stephen McCarthy of Long Ryders, who adds backing vocals throughout, something he also did back in the Eighties on “Medicine Show”, yet another great Dream Syndicate album.

So how does “These Times” stack up to the standard the band has set themselves, even to the quite good 2017 release?

Actually, with ease! Wynn doesn’t seem to have lost his songwriting touch, and the level of musicianship throughout is impeccable. Starting from ‘the standard’ Syndicate of “The Way In” almost pummelling motorik of “Put Some Mile In”, country psych of “Black Light” or West Coast vibes of “Bullet Holes”, the band hardly miss anything or leave it to musical chance.

Particularly impressive is “Recovery Mode”, which can easily rank among the band’s trademark tracks. Here again, like on the previous album, Wynn repeats the songwriting process and as he explains, “I wrote the lyrics after we finished tracking so that the words would be dictated by the sound rather than the other way around.”

Whichever way they did it, it certainly worked, as on “These Times” The Dream Syndicate were able to replicate the high standards that the original version of the band set way back in the Eighties. Whether that will help them to finally have some ’cash-in’ remains to be seen, but the devoted fans will certainly embrace this one as if the original band never went away.

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