Home Read Albums Of The Week: The Third Mind | The Third Mind 2

Albums Of The Week: The Third Mind | The Third Mind 2

Beloved roots-rocker Dave Alvin lets his freak flag fly with another transcendent set of vintage jam-band excursions — recorded on the fly with his all-star supergroup.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Starting four years ago as a wishful music fantasy, The Third Mind have now become a powerful and thrilling sonic reality.

This same extraordinary cast of like-minded musicians who recorded that first Third Mind album return for The Third Mind 2. Formed by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter/guitarist Dave Alvin on electric guitar and bassist Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker), they have since gleaned drummer Michael Jerome (Richard Thompson, John Cale, Blind Boys of Alabama) and guitarist David Immerglück (Counting Crows, Camper Van Beethoven, John Hiatt). Jesse Sykes, who has made several acclaimed albums with her Seattle group The Sweet Hereafter, joined this stellar lineup on vocals and acoustic guitar.

With the release of The Third Mind 2, the band have developed into a cohesive and eclectic ensemble while retaining their original concept of recording spontaneous group improvisations. For many years, Krummenacher and Alvin had discussed trying to make an album outside of their comfort zone, using the free-form studio techniques pioneered by Miles Davis on albums like Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson. This meant no rehearsals and no preconceived arrangements, just agree on key, turn on the tape machine and see what happens. Not surprisingly, the no-safety-net approach was something most traditional rock ’n’ roll musicians had little experience with or much interest in.

As Alvin stated, “We had a crazy idea and were looking for musicians who perhaps didn’t think it was so insane.” Eventually, they found a crew of adventurous musicians excited to join them, and this group recorded their 2020 debut release in a three-day marathon session.

The Third Mind 2, like their debut, features songs originally written in the 1960s, with the notable exception of Tall Grass, which was specially written by Sykes and Alvin for this record. The band focused on the songs from the ’60s because they felt the material captured many of the member’s influences as well as the band’s freewheeling approach to music making. From the opening track, Groovin’ Is Easy (originally recorded by Michael Bloomfield’s Electric Flag), to the closing song, Fred Neil’s bittersweet A Little Bit Of Rain, these songs were well known on that era’s underground, free-form folk/blues/rock scene, but weren’t Top 40 hits. The only tune that fits that description is Sally Go Round The Roses, recorded by The Jaynets in 1963 before hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100. As with the other songs on The Third Mind 2, Sally Go Round The Roses is transmogrified from the original pop-R&B version into a twisting, turning, bluesy, otherworldly soundscape that only The Third Mind could come up with.

The Third Mind’s sound reflects the band members’ varied collective musical histories with part emotionally dark folk / rock combo, part abstract blues outfit, part moody psychedelic garage band, part avant-garde jazz ensemble and part brash alternative rock ’n’ roll mischief makers.”