I know I’ve gone on at length about the underrated nature of The Hidden Hand among the pantheon of so-called “Wino bands,” and it’s true, the project that I think introduced a lot of people to the style and frontmanship of Scott “Wino” Weinrich — their being active when Dave Grohl‘s Probot record was released likely had something to do with that — often gets downplayed. They weren’t as influential as The Obsessed or Spirit Caravan, and Saint Vitus is a different animal entirely. But The Hidden Hand was more than just some band Wino was in for a few years before getting back with Vitus. True, they had a half-decade run from about 2002 until 2007, but in that time they produced three vibrant, distinct albums that showed a commitment to stylistic progression and offered top notch riffing and a vocal collaboration between Wino and bassist Bruce Falkinburg that I think stands out as the best of Wino‘s career.
Maybe that’s not saying much since Wino hasn’t often shared vocal duties, but in my head, that only makes The Hidden Hand a more special band. Falkinburg, also a producer who’s worked with J. Robbins, Wooly Mammoth and many others, brought something to The Hidden Hand completely distinct from any other group in which Wino had taken part up to that point. Their songwriting showcased a rich partnership beginning with the De-Sensitized 7″ and subsequent full-length debut, Divine Propaganda, released by MeteorCity in 2003. While my impression of that album has always been rooted in its rawness compared to its 2004 follow-up, Mother Teacher Destroyer, a revisit to the band’s eponymous song — or their theme, as the parenthetical has it — finds it a celebration of various elements. The heavy riffing and anti-authoritarian drive are both there that would become staples of The Hidden Hand‘s sound, the album’s title mirrored in the mysticism counteracted by worldly manipulations transforming into dogma amid the political turmoil of the early part of the last decade.
And with “The Hidden Hand (Theme),” it’s Falkinburg up front. Wino joins in on the chorus, but it’s worth noting that on the song The Hidden Hand chose to represent who they were and what they were about, it was the bassist in the frontman role.
Enjoy and have an excellent Wino Wednesday: