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Steve Wynn

Our critics' picks in new releases

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Since the end of Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn has been steadily churning out good albums, demonstrating his facility with familiar rock idioms be they psychedelia, folk-rock or garage. However, with the release of his double album, Here Come the Miracles, Wynn's reach has finally attained the heights hinted at by his seminal Dream Syndicate slab Days of Wine and Roses. While not quite Physical Graffiti or The Wall, the album nonetheless is the most sustained stroke of genius to emerge from Wynn's nimble fingers since splitting with Syndicate collaborator Karl Precoda. Joined by such top-notch musicians as Chris Cacavas (Green on Red, Giant Sand), Howie Gelb (Giant Sand), Chris Brokaw (Come) and drummer Linda Pittman (Zuzu's Petals), Wynn's Telecaster rips, rocks, and weeps all over this 19-song canvas with a fury reserved for the scorned.

Recorded in Tucson, one wonders about the inspiration for the organ-drenched garage rave "Death Valley Rain," which features a supple, lyrical lead, or the somber, sun-baked dirge "Drought," with its reverb-haunted, Southwestern feel. Inhabiting song styles much like a musical costume designer, Wynn goes Velvet-y on the chunky, feedback-driven "Southern California Line," then rides a Bo Diddley beat through an inspired, post-apocalyptic "Strange New World." Then there's the Pink Floyd-flavored "Butterscotch," complete with harmonic humming and operatic builds. The second side features several epic tracks: the low-riding, downbeat "Topanga Canyon Freaks," with Wynn doing his best sotto voce, Lou Reed imitation; "Good and Bad," whose quiet, folksy guitar and piano opening recalls Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer;" the high-throttle, riff-raging guitar showcase of "Smash Myself to Bits," and the apropos garage-pop redemption of "There Will Come a Day," the album's closing track. Only Wynn's limited singing palette holds this album back, which is like complaining about a Western's dusty locales.

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