The future's so bright, I gotta wear granny shades: The Alternative Nation, having finally subsumed '60s sounds, from Brian Wilson (Flaming Lips) to Buffalo Springfield (Beachwood Sparks) to Nick Drake (Belle and Sebastian) to the Beatles (practically every band associated with the Elephant 6 brain trust), is on the cusp of a Renaissance period if it keeps on track with its apparent quest for trans-genre enlightenment.
Not that those in the know haven't mounted a retro defense against encroaching blandness before. In '84, members of the Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate and Bangles assembled a heartfelt collection of covers (of Dylan, the Springfield, Velvet Underground, Big Star and more) titled Rainy Day, although back then the means for disseminating good taste and even finding copies of certain key, classic recordings were sorely restricted. Operative nowadays in the breaking down of generational and stylistic barriers -- hey, those silly hippies actually listened to some cool-sounding bands back in the day! -- are both the Internet and what's approaching a near-fanatical level of vault-scavenging by the record labels. (In an intriguing bit of synchronicity, just a couple of weeks prior to the recent Elektra-Rhino bonus track/remaster overhaul of Love's seminal '67 album Forever Changes, bootleg label Deep Six offered an insider's peek at Love with a collection of '66-'68 studio outtakes, The Last Wall of the Castle, which easily rivals its aboveground counterpart in terms of superb sound quality and elaborate packaging.)
Newcomers The Tyde fit perfectly into this equation. Helmed by singer/songwriter Darren Rademaker (ex-Further), the freewheeling, six-piece collective (which includes three members on loan from the Beachwood Sparks) incorporates elements of practically every group name-checked above, and then some. The nine songs on Once unfold gently, rendered with a casual sense of purpose that enhances, rather than undermines, what are exquisite compositions. Six-minute dreamscape "Get Around Too," for example, has that same ethereal, druggy quality that made Neil Young's "Expecting to Fly" such a memorable album track for the Springfield. Ruminating in a voice that suggests a cross between the Church's Steve Kilbey and the Go-Betweens' Grant McLennan, Rademaker perfectly juggles romantic yearning ("Baby, I just want to follow you down") with utopian earnestness. At times he seems to verge on waxing overly precious, yet he always pulls back just in time, as in "All My Bastard Children," a kind of cosmic cowboy, Byrds-with-Mellotron tune so gosh-darn melodic 'n' tingly 'n' uplifting that when Rademaker exhales potentially destructive clichés like "I got down on my knees" and "I'm so glad you're my woman -- baby now!" all you feel is the urge to cheer the dude's romantic reverie onward and upward. Many are such moments for The Tyde -- flower-power Dylan ("Strangers Again"); Lou Reed before the paranoia and meth abuse kicked in ("North Country Times," which adds some jaunty pedal steel to the rave-up guitar/organ arrangement); confessional Arthur Lee/Love (the serenely drifting "Silver's Okay Michelle"). Call Once a collection of new music for your next, ahem, rainy day.
Worth noting, too, is the guest presence of John "Twink" Alder, nominally tossing out a tambourine lick or two but whose appearance seems highly symbolic, given his deep-seated association with British pop-psych groups of yore (Tomorrow, Pretty Things, Pink Fairies). That's no mere passing of the torch from granddaddy to disciple -- it's a friggin' imprimatur.
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