Steve Wynn

Static Transmission

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Steve Wynn continues his winning streak on Static Transmission. Ever since he rescued his lackluster solo career with the incendiary Melting in the Dark in 1996, his albums have been tough, smart, funny, and above full of living, fire-breathing soul. Static Transmission is 50 minutes of lean and nasty rock & roll with loud guitars, gritty lyrics, and a bleeding heart. The guitars howl and Wynn growls his noir lyrics like someone who knows what he is talking about. It is a strong record from beginning to end but some of the songs rank among Wynn's best to date: "Candy Machine"'s atonal live wire guitars are reminiscent of Dream Syndicate, and his words are biting and funny; "A Fond Farewell" is a loping, jagged ballad with an evil-sounding vocal and some lovely bells; and "California Style" is a classic single with a killer chorus and sterling guitar work. Some of the songs are just darn good: "Amphetamine" with its breakneck tempo and dueling guitars; "The Ambassadors of Soul" with a slinky electric piano and Wynn's most heartfelt vocal; "Keep It Clean" is a storming song full of dynamic shifts, slashing guitars, and a wicked Wynn lyric and vocal. No Wynn record is complete without an extremely catchy tune with Wynn reeling off lyrical gems one after the other. His best so far was "500 Girl Mornings" from My Midnight, but the uncredited album closer here gives that song a run for its money; a Dylanesque, ramshackle acoustic singalong with goofy couplets like "a dead ringer for Veronica Lake/jumped right out of my birthday cake." This is a great album by a rock & roll survivor. You may have forgotten him or written him off or maybe never even heard of him. If that's the case, you need to give him a chance. No contemporaries make classic rock records like Wynn; he's what bands like the Wallflowers wish they could be. [As a bonus the disc comes with an extra disc of songs recorded at the same time as Static Transmission and left off the record. The seven originals and "State Trooper," a Springsteen cover, are all solid songs, each good enough to have been on the record proper.]

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