The Days of Wine and RosesAlbum |
The pinnacle of the Paisley Underground.
The Dream Syndicate's debut is a master class in the proper use of feedback and distortion in a post-punk context: later bands like Yo La Tengo--who have been known to cover centerpiece track "Halloween" in concert--owe much of their sound to this album. Critics at the time made much of the band's debt to the Velvet Underground: they took their name from the experimental ensemble John Cale was in with minimalist composer LaMonte Young in the mid-'60s, and Steve Wynn's vocal style on tracks like "That's What You Always Say" and "Definitely Clean" owes much to Lou Reed's coolly clipped sarcasm. In retrospect, however, there's at least as much Neil Young and Crazy Horse or Marquee Moon in Wynn and Karl Precoda's dual-guitar attack, especially on extended workouts like the edge-of-hysteria "Until Lately" and the epic title track. But what makes The Days of Wine and Roses timeless isn't the way it appropriates classic FM-rock tropes for the Paisley Underground generation--early Flaming Lips, Plasticland, Meat Puppets and others did that as well--but that the squalling guitars are in service to a truly remarkable set of songs. Every one of these nine tracks is a small gem, from the pealing opener "Tell Me When It's Over"--in which Wynn explores just how many ways he can sing the words "yeahhhhhh" and "awwww"--to bassist Kendra Smith's haunting showcase "Too Little, Too Late." Their later albums didn't quite reach these heights, but this is a stone classic.