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In the Mushroom

Lid

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Album Review

In the year of our lord, 1997, Chicago's legendary Trouble — America's premier, and perhaps only Christian doom band — had finally ground to a halt due to years of slogging it out on the underground circuit with ever-diminishing returns to show for their, ahem, troubles. Following their sad demise, vocalist Eric Wagner was the first to branch out into pastures new, pairing his instantly recognizable, mournful croon (as much a Trouble signature as the colossal, Sabbath-derived power chords of guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell) with Danny Cavanagh — himself already well known for his guitar work with Liverpool, England's Anathema. Baptizing their project with the none-too-subtle name Lid, the duo duly hired a rhythm section and set about recording an album's worth of tracks, which interestingly enough contained the odd combination of doom heaviness and hippie psychedelics last heard on Trouble's Manic Frustration, only performed here with half the volume and intensity. The resulting In the Mushroom — oftentimes rambling and unfocused, but in equal measures beautiful and heart-wrenching — disappointed some Trouble disciples unwilling to let go of the past, but at least confirmed the fact that Lid was an entirely new proposition. And with all due respect to Cavanagh, Wagner is the unquestionable star of Lid's (kaleidoscopic light) show, effortlessly moving between his typically downcast, pessimistic subjects to altogether lighter, hippie fare. Case in point, the group's namesake tune finds Wagner flipping the switch back and forth from tunefully ragged singing to intimately spoken recitations as he intones words like "Don't need a light at the end of my tunnel...I need a bigger shovel." Conversely, the innocently psychedelic "Mary Agnes" talks of baking "space cakes" and "hear[ing] the grass grow!" Even more poignant, clearly autobiographical numbers like "The Dream Is Over" and "For All My Life" find him baring his soul with nostalgia, while the nearly as morose "Rx" relies on frail, '90s alternative rock vibes for its resigned sense of acceptance. Thankfully for those now approaching suicidal thoughts, the album wrapped up with a few lighthearted send-ups — namely the goofy "Randy Scouse Git" and "Alive" before a final, peace-offering rendition of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down." And despite lingering rumors to the effect, Lid never recorded again, adding a certain eventfulness to this curious, but all-around fine release.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Soon after the long-dreaded but hardly unexpected disintegration of American doom metal legends Trouble in 1996, singer Eric Wagner teamed up with British guitarist Danny Cavanagh (of Anathema fame) to form the transatlantic psychedelic hard rock collective known as Lid. Rounded out by the brotherly rhythm section of Tim (bass) and Tommy Reeves (drums), the quartet committed its first and thus far only...
Full bio
In the Mushroom, Lid
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