In the Wilderness

In the Wilderness is a feature in which a group of Strange Currencies contributors examine an overlooked or under-appreciated period of an artist’s career. In these “Slack chats,” we discuss highs, lows, and misconceptions, in order to shed new light on an era that we feel deserves a second look.

  • In the Wilderness: Bob Dylan, 1967-1974
    Following a whirlwind first half of the sixties, Bob Dylan took a deliberate turn away from the beaten path. Spend some time roaming through his “wilderness” years.
  • In the Wilderness: Dinosaur Jr, 1991-1997
    Can a band’s most commercially successful period really be considered a “wilderness” era? See why the label just might fit for Dinosaur Jr.
  • In the Wilderness: Frank Black and The Catholics, 1998-2003
    In 1998, Frank Black made a conscious effort to tap into his “classic rock” roots. With his new backing band, The Catholics, the prolific singer-songwriter would release seven LPs over the next five years. Take a road trip through Frank Black’s “wilderness” years with The Catholics.
  • In the Wilderness: George Harrison, 1973-1982
    If a Beatle releases a series of albums that still land in the top 20, is it really a “wilderness”? Maybe, if they sound as disengaged as George Harrison often did in the decade following ‘Concert for Bangladesh.’ We make the most of an odd, frustrating decade here.
  • In the Wilderness: Guided by Voices, 1997-2004
    After their hard-earned, mid-nineties breakthrough, the “classic lineup” of Guided by Voices dissolved. The records that Robert Pollard and his rotating cast of musicians made over the next few years may not have had the same critical cache, but they cemented GBV’s reputation as an indie rock institution.
  • In the Wilderness: Harry Nilsson, 1966-1971
    “Wilderness” eras tend to come after commercial and/or critical breakthroughs. However, this look at Harry Nilsson covers the work that he did prior to his star-making 1971 LP, ‘Nilsson Schmilsson.’
  • In the Wilderness: Meat Puppets, 1986-1991
    Following the back-to-back classics of ‘II’ and ‘Up on the Sun,’ Arizona’s Meat Puppets entered into their most stylistically varied and experimental phase. Explore their “wilderness” era.
  • In the Wilderness: Nina Simone, 1967-1972
    So, you’ve already familiarized yourself with Nina Simone’s iconic early/mid-sixties work? Then check out her “wilderness” era, which may be even better.
  • In the Wilderness: Os Mutantes, 1969-1974
    Fans of psychedelic pop/rock have long been rightfully directed toward Os Mutantes’ classic 1968 debut album. However, if they stop there, they miss out on a wealth of great recordings that followed. Check out the Sao Paulo band’s “wilderness” years here.
  • In the Wilderness: Pavement, 1995-1999
    Can a band with an impeccable five-album discography really have a “wilderness” era? Sure, if their first two masterpieces tend to overshadow the rest of the catalog. Plus, we just REALLY love Pavement. Arrange transport to their “wilderness.”
  • In the Wilderness: R.E.M., 1998-2011
    After the departure of Bill Berry in 1997, the famously-democratic R.E.M. were forced to make a choice between breaking up, or carrying on as a trio. Follow them into their “wilderness.”
  • In the Wilderness: The Beach Boys, 1967-1971
    Following the well-documented collapse of the legendary ‘SMiLE’ project, The Beach Boys entered a new phase of democratic album-making and diminishing commercial returns. Take a dive into their first “wilderness” era.
  • In the Wilderness: The Beach Boys, 1972-1977
    Surrounding the unexpected commercial success of their 1974 hits compilation, ‘Endless Summer,’ The Beach Boys entered into their most idiosyncratic phase. Take a voyage into their second “wilderness.”
  • In the Wilderness: The Tragically Hip, 1988-1998
    Can a band be a household name in one country, while simultaneously being in the “wilderness” in another? That’s the question that we grapple with when discussing The Tragically Hip.
  • In the Wilderness: They Might be Giants, 1994-2001
    With 1994’s ‘John Henry,’ They Might be Giants morphed from a two-man recording project into a full-fledged band. While some fans were left cold by their new direction, others found plenty to love in the Brooklyn duo’s “wilderness” years.
  • In the Wilderness: U2, 1993-1998
    While most “wilderness” eras feature artists struggling to match their earlier creative or commercial peaks, U2’s found the Irish quartet trying to innovate while simultaneously retaining their position as the “biggest band in the world.”
  • In the Wilderness: Weezer, 2001-2010
    There is, perhaps, no act in modern music with a more bewildering career arc than that of Weezer. Explore the first decade of the band’s lengthy “wilderness.”