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
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

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.