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From The Vault: The Optic Nerve - “Lotta Nerve” (1994)


A great band too many folks have never heard of ...

For more reasons than I can count, it’s nearly impossible to realize that this album burst on the scene in 1994, because for all the world, Lotta Nerve is a relentless step though a portal of time an into the atmosphere of a hazy psychedelic past.

The album’s art work is the first giveaway that will have you thinking you’ve stumbled onto a long lost record from the late 60’s, where the choice of word placement and the lowercase font style are all drawn from a deep mystic and historic past, then there’s the band’s imagery, a grainy picture seemingly taken from a negative contact sheet, complete with a chemical burn hole. Of course, in keeping with the spirit, there stands the band decked out in 60’s fashion, complete with Beatle boots, long hair and shades, standing among the flowers at the base of some majestic home, instantly bringing to mind images of the group Love and their album cover photoshoots.

Once you’re past the visuals and into the grooves, you’ll find that all of the songs are amazingly short and amazingly well done, trimmed to the essence of systematic bouncy splendor that grabs a hold of you with blistering jangling Rickenbacker fueled guitar hooks, tripped out fuzz, along with those tender frail harmonies that will inspire memories of The Byrds, though to be honest, in a manner, The Optic Nerve sound as if they could have inspired those catchy joyous countryfied meandering melodies that made The Byrds, Gram Parsons, Michael Nesmith and Love so famous … and being from New York City, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are tinges of the softer sides of The Velvet Underground throughout many of the songs.

The music laced throughout this compilation is honest and real, it’s not a fashion, and it’s a sincere shame that the Optic Nerve hit just as the 1980’s were bubbling over with too much fashion and far too little substance, where this band should have stood toe to toe with the likes of REM, yet never found their footing or the backing to allow them to discover all they could have been, meaning that today we’re left with this enticing collection of songs that should not be overlooked.

- Jenell Kesler
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