The Cutout Bin

A collection of discarded or otherwise forgotten music.

-My fileserver is free, and you get what you pay for... so try rightclicking the mp3s and selecting "save link target as". You may have to do it more than once.

-Please see post #1 "Begin the begin" (3/24/06) for the raison d'etre for this blog. If you object to your music being posted here, email me and I will remove it.

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Repo Man's got all night, every night...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kevin Salem update

Obviously, Kevin Salem heard my plea (see this post) and is responding by planning a pair of new releases for 2007- an "Odds & Sods" type collection called Box Of Words as well as a new studio album. You can read all about it on his spiffy new website-

Friday, December 08, 2006

Steve Wynn

I was fortunate enough to see Steve Wynn playing in a small barbecue restaurant last weekend- doubly fortunate to see him in such a small venue, and because he was only playing a pair of oneoff dates, not a full tour. It'd been ten years since Wynn last played in the area, and he didn't disappoint- he and his band blew the walls out of the place, storming through songs running the gamut of his 24 year career.

Steve Wynn is a little beyond the scope of this blog, which mainly concerns itself with hopelessly obscure regional acts, most of whom have long since broken up. Since 1982, Wynn has released something like 17 studio albums with various bands, the most famous of which was the Dream Syndicate. I'm making an exception because of something he said from the stage- he'd run into someone at the show who told him they'd been a big fan of the Dream Syndicate, but didn't know he was still playing. So, I'm harnessing the miniscule power of my little corner of the web to help get the word out.

The Dream Syndicate started in LA in 1982 as a band equally inspired by the Velvet Underground and punk rock. By the time the band split in 1989, the only original members were guitarist/vocalist/main songwriter Wynn and drummer Dennis Duck. The intervening years had seen the band's sound shift from skeletal, psychedelic noir to sweeping guitar rock in the best Crazy Horse tradition. Given that they recorded during the '80s (when it was almost impossible to make a good sounding rock record), the band's recorded legacy is mixed. Their best studio albums are the first (The Days Of Wine & Roses) and the last (Ghost Stories), although the live album Live At Rajis remains the definitive document. At all costs, avoid the horribly overproduced Medicine Show, the good songs from which are presented in significantly better form on Rajis.

I first became aware of the Dream Syndicate during my freshman year of college, when a friend pulled the just-released Ghost Stories out of the rack at the college radio station and informed me that they had opened for REM, and were great (good thing the station didn't have a copy of Medicine Show). After one listen, I had to concur with his analysis.

After the demise of the band, Wynn decided to re-invent himself in singer-songwriter mode, and made a few albums in that style through the early '90s. I'm not a fan of that genre, so I more or less lost track of him. The exception during this period was the band Gutterball, a side project involving Wynn and members of the Long Ryders, the Silos, and House of Freaks. 1993's Gutterball sounds like a bunch of friends jamming on each others songs over a boozy long weekend, which is essentially what it was. 1995's Weasel sounds a bit more professional (at least until the last track), but the casual "guitar band" approach of both records plays to Wynn's strengths. Both CDs are highly recommended.

In 1996, Wynn recorded Melting In The Dark backed by the Boston band Come (in the final document of their original lineup). The result was a whirlwind of noirish guitar rock, a tour de force for both parties. Wynn had successfully returned to loud rock while moving past the legacy of the Dream Syndicate. I saw him on tour for this record with drummer Linda Pitmon, guitarist Rich Gilbert and bassist Armistead Wellford- it was my first time seeing Wynn, and they absolutely blew me away.

This being my blog, I'm going to make a pretty serious detour here and talk about Rich Gilbert. I first saw him with his band the Zulus (featuring future Sugar drummer Malcolm Travis) in the early '90s- it was in a small club with about 20 people, but the Zulus hit the stage like a bomb. Gilbert doesn't play guitar like anyone you've ever seen- he's less about conventional notes and chords, and more about pulling completely new sounds out of the instrument- the only points of reference I can think of are Richard Lloyd mixed with Jimi Hendrix. He's managed to completely reinvent rock guitar playing, and it's a crime he isn't world famous. Sadly, I never got their album (Gilbert specifically mentioned having distribution problems with their label when I talked to him after the show) so I won't be able to feature the Zulus here. Gilbert currently plays with Frank Black and the Catholics, whose first two albums (the self-titled debut and Pistolero)are slices of garage rock well worth owning. OK, sorry- back to Steve Wynn:

1997's impressive Sweetness And Light featured the same band I'd seen the previous year (Pitmon's been playing with Wynn ever since), but by 2001 Gilbert had left and Come guitarist Chris Brokaw joined for Here Come The Miracles, a sprawling 2CD set recorded in Tuscon, AZ. Miracles displays all of Wynn's different styles in a way that makes a coherent whole- melodic pop to garage freakout and everything in between. Thus inspired, Wynn recorded his next two albums (Static Transmission and ...tick...tick...tick) in the same Tuscon studio as part of what he somewhat jokingly refers to as his "desert trilogy". The albums all have a similar feel, but Wynn's writing keeps them from getting samey.

Since 2003, Wynn's live band (the Miracle Three) has consisted of Pitmon, guitarist Jason Victor and bass player Dave DeCastro (who debuted on Miracles two years previously). They play his songs with fire and skill, breathing fresh life into the old Dream Syndicate songs that by now could be just as stale as the Stones playing "Satisfaction" for the 800 billionth time. This far into a fine 24 year career, it seems that Steve Wynn is just now hitting his stride.

Lester Young from Gutterball
Stare It Down from Melting In The Dark
Click here to buy "Melting In The Dark" from Amazon
Sustain from Here Come The Miracles
Bruises from ...tick...tick...tick
Click here to buy "...tick...tick...tick" from Amazon

Wynn was one of the first musicians to grasp the importance of the internet, and his website continues to be one of the best-
Steve Wynn Web