Review: The Third Mind Take an Enthralling Voyage with ‘The Third Mind/2’

The Third Mind/2
(Yep Roc)
4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

The 2020 appearance of the ad hoc group the Third Mind seemed like a synergistic one-off. Americana guitarist Dave Alvin gathered musically compatible friends and put them in the studio, running tapes as they jammed, reportedly unrehearsed, on some ’60s psychedelic blues/rock/jazz/folk semi-classics. Those performances were sliced and diced, combining the best parts into tracks that pulsed with the stimulation generated when talented musicians feed off each other’s energy.. The pandemic nixed touring, so this seemed like an experiment that, however artistically successful, wouldn’t be repeated.

Thankfully, that’s not the case.

The same lineup—Alvin, guitarist David Immergluck, drummer Michael Jerome, Victor Krummenacher on bass and keyboards, and singer/acoustic guitarist Jesse Sykes — reunite, now with the experience of the previous release. The results are just as potent and arguably even better. 

The six tunes traverse a diverse musical palette. From Fred Neil’s “A Little Bit of Rain,” to the Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy” and Phil Spector’s unusual childlike “Sally Go Round the Roses,” Alvin and company cast a collective spell over songs rearranged to feature their improvised instrumental prowess. 

The basic blueprint starts with a slow boil approach that gradually heats up as the improvisations solidify. Guitars weave, hover, and flow, Jerome’s sympathetic drumming keeps the vibe throbbing, and Sykes’ riveting, otherworldly folksy vocals focus the sound. Alvin’s incisive guitar meshes with Immergluck’s more lyrical style, best exemplified in the spellbinding opening eight-minute “Groovin’ Is Easy.” 

Paul Butterfield, whose quarter hour “East-West” was a highlight of the last release, is covered again with his “In My Own Dream” getting a bluesier twist as Sykes’ vocals float over the dreamy lyrics.

It’s a captivating, often enthralling voyage as these trippy, somewhat hallucinogenic songs get pulled like taffy; stretching, lengthening, and allowing this assemblage the leeway to explore instrumental nuances that shape-shift them into new, perhaps better, surely more experimental versions of themselves. 

Dim the lights, fire up the incense, relax your mind, and let fly. 

Listen to The Third Mind HERE.

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