Thursday, February 28, 2008
Dark psychedelic garage rock continues to be all the rage, as if veteran bands like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club hadn’t already exhausted the idea. Sure, Dead Meadow has been around since 1999, so, yes, we should give them a little credit for jumping on the bandwagon earlier than most.
The trio (isn’t it always a trio?) now levels Old Growth, a moody mélange of distorted guitars, delicate folk and vaguely vintage metal that’s more melodic and accessible than it should be. Dead Meadow, deep in their patchouli-laden heart, are a formalist pop band that refuses to sacrifice a good hook in exchange for a greasy, hallucinogenic jam. (Though the band delivers jams, too.)
Singer/guitarist Jason Simon’s rock ‘n’ roll speech impediment is profound, and his limited vocal range may discourage those who don’t immediately grasp what Old Growth is shooting for – especially with droning tracks like the Hendrix blues of “ ’Till Kingdom Come” and the Led Zeppelin III-like miasma of “Seven Seers.” It’s only when you experience the big, open, Neil Young-worthy chords of “I’m Gone” that you discern the careful craftsmanship of each of these tracks. It’s as if Dead Meadow seeks to touch upon every rock style of the ‘60s and ‘70s, from Buffalo Springfield to Bad Company.
In other words, unlike BRMC – a band that, even when it switches to acoustic guitars, sticks pretty close to its original ideas – Dead Meadow is more chameleonic, more varied and, ultimately, more fun.