Music

Plugging Into the Third Mind

Alt-rock supergroup the Third Mind launches a musical adventure that brings Alice Coltrane and Roky Erickson together and doesn't forget the guitar solos.

The Third Mind
The Third Mind

Yep Roc

14 February 2020

Its member's names might not be as familiar as those of the Traveling Wilburys but make no mistake, the Third Mind is a supergroup. How could it not be when its members have been in or been involved with the Blasters, X, Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker, Monks of Doom, John Hiatt, Counting Crows, Richard Thompson, John Cale, Better Than Ezra, and even more?

Yeah. The Third Mind is a supergroup, all right, and their self-titled debut album is every bit as eclectic and idiosyncratic as you can imagine after reading that list of bands. For the record, the Third Mind is Dave Alvin (guitar, vocals), Victor Krummenacher (bass, vocals), David Immergluck (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Michael Jerome (drums, percussion), and special guest Jesse Sykes (guitar, vocals).

The Third Mind was initially the brainchild of Dave Alvin, who wanted to assemble a group of musicians that would be capable of making music the way Miles Davis did on Bitches Brew and his other electric albums. That is, bring a set of great musicians into a studio, select a key, establish a groove, and hit the record button. The resulting album features six tracks of expansive, adventurous music that might not be for everyone, but that might blow the minds of those who are receptive to it.

The Third Mind contains five covers and one original. The album's centerpiece is a cover of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's "East/West", a Mike Bloomfield/Nick Gravenites composition that was also inspired by Miles Davis. It would be a pointless exercise to argue whether the Third Mind's "East/West" is better or worse than the Butterfield band's original studio version, although the Third Mind's cover is three minutes longer, clocking in at over 16 minutes. But you can't dispute the blazing guitar solos that carry the tune along for all that time. The first 11 minutes are particularly intense. Things chill out a bit after that, but not by much. Fans of the original, as well as anyone who may not be familiar with it, but who love extended instrumental jams, will love where the Third Mind takes "East/West".

Nothing else on The Third Mind is quite as incendiary as "East/West", but each of the five remaining tracks offers adventurous musical delights. The album opens with a meditation on Alice Coltrane's transcendent "Journey in Satchidananda" that features haunting guitar solos. I'm guessing Alice would approve.

"Claudia Cardinale" is a short original with a subtle spaghetti western soundtrack feel that completes the trilogy of instrumentals on the album. Meanwhile, "The Dolphins" (a Fred Neil song, sung here by Dave Alvin) and Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew" (sung by Jesse Sykes) are both given haunting folk-rock treatments that leave plenty of room for some atmospheric guitar work.

The Third Mind closes with a tribute to Roky Erickson and the 13th Story Elevators' dark classic "Reverberation". This cover feels like the most straightforward track on the album, coming across like a particularly sprightly (and Edgy) U2 tune with a dash of hair metal thrown in the mix. On paper that might sound horrific but scraping away a bit of the original's psychedelia reveals "Reverberation" to be a terrific rock tune, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's the cool thing about The Third Mind. It answers the "where can I find some adventurous music?" and the "where is the rock?" questions simultaneously.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.