Formed in 1985, the Optic Nerve garnered more attention and accolades in death than in life.
Hailing from New York City, the band tooled about the local underground circuit and put out a couple of singles, but struggled to get arrested. Chalk it up to bad timing, anemic promotion and the usual sad circumstances that prevent good music from being heard.
Assembled of demos the Optic Nerve recorded in the summer of 1988, Forever and a Day (Screaming Apple Records) is a folk-rock masterpiece. Sounding like Bob Dylan fronting the Blue Things, the band reprised the mood and feel of the genre they mined with amazing accuracy.
Honking harmonicas, circled by strummy guitars and slapping rhythms characterize tracks such as “A Long Way To Go,” “Tompkins Square Blues” and “Hard To Keep,” while the sweetly melodious “What’s Been Missing” assumes a bit of a softer and quieter approach.
Bouncy and loose-limbed, “Real Go-Getter” would have fit comfortably on a Traveling Wilburys album, and “Take Me” is the one tune that stages a detour from the Optic Nerve’s folk rock fetish, as it bobs and throbs to a pounding Bo Diddley styled beat, topped with a dash of distorted psychedelic doodles that would do the Yardbirds proud.
Not only did the Optic Nerve appropriate the finest aspects of their influences, but by writing their own material, which radiated warmth and potency, they added depth and dimension to the domain.