There are some who would say that the spirit of '67, the summer of love, the California dream, is dead and rotting in the ground, and they wouldn't be mistaken in thinking that. We all know - we've been seeing Deadhead stickers on Cadillacs for 31 years now, and the corner of Haight & Ashbury hosts a Gap and a Ben & Jerry's, where Jerry and Janis and Big Brother and Quicksilver and Robert Crumb doled out their mimeographed mind melting revolution nearly 50 years ago now.
Our conception of time, and progress, as a linear flow has been greatly disrupted, due to the omnipresence and availability of information. The past is alive, inside the present and nothing can ever die. Instead, passionate practitioners layer on levels of meaning and personal associations. Look at the way The Fresh & Onlys fused the Laurel Canyon sound with a disassociative post-punk shoegaze stance on 2014's House Of Spirits, or the way Withered Hand dropped references to listening to classic records, amidst his personal and introverted folk slow burners. The past can be what you make of it, and we can be whatever we like, this time around.
Bare Wire And Water is a short, delicious EP from Pittsburgh's The Silver Thread, who has been recording off and on for the last 13 years. The experience helps, as the trio of Todd Thomas, on guitar and vocals, Tim Thomas on bass guitar and Dave Halloran on drums know what they are going for and how to execute it.
Bare Wire And Water is like an archaeological dig through the psyche of 1969/1970. The linear history books can't even contend with the fact that The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Woodstock and The Manson Murders were all happening around the same time, as crippled, shell-shocked Vietnam veterans came home to showers of saliva and "babykiller" cries, all while Japan, London and Berlin plotted and planned for the future.
The Silver Thread re-introduce the hypnotic minimalism, of a long-form Velvet Underground boogie trance, welded to catchy hooks and grooves, like the barbed snare of "Everything And Everything," whose guitar line has a similar sing-song catchiness to Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number.” My other favorite aspect is the introduction of the haunted B3 organ, towards the end of "Go Away From My Door" that even remembers to include the damaged lysergic Texan psych of bands like the 13th Floor Elevators, which also puts them in line of later practitioners, such as Spacemen 3.
This is no paisley power however, no attempt at authentic anachronism. All of The Silver Thread's ‘60s live - the ballroom bass lines, the rippling guitar arpeggios and weeping soloes - are delivered in a stripped down, immediate and energetic post-grunge fashion, like the oldest, best Dinosaur Jr. jams.
So for anyone that likes the Nuggets compilations and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, sunny So-Cal doom 'n gloom, like cruising the Hollywood strip at 3 am, listening to a Bernard Hermann score, jam bands and The Jesus And Mary Chain, meet your new favorite band!
And if anyone happens to be reading this on the East Coast, go check these guys out live, as I have the sense they'd be a ton of fun live. I'm 3000 miles away, and my private Cessna is still in the shop. So until my wormhole prototype is stable, and stops creating these horrible mutations, I'm going to have to groove out in the floating floor ballroom of my mind.
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