Fri Aug 22
Since 1998, DC power trio Dead Meadow has built a cult of mellow, stoned worshippers. Thus far they've made three great heavy psychedelic rock records, each better than the last. They've also managed to simultaneously reach an underground metal audience and get signed to indie pinnacle Matador Records, without specifically catering to either crowd.
Singer/guitarist Jason Simon's musical tales sound like drugged outtakes from the Led Zeppelin vault. Shimmering melodies rain fuzz over a Nuggets-style rhythm section that keeps it simple and classic. The production is old-fashioned to say the least, but it's a warm, lo-fi approach that resembles 1970 far more than old Guided by Voices. Simon's voice plays more as a textural instrument, rising beneath waves of guitar, rarely stepping out of key with the main theme of the song, or otherwise making a nuisance of itself. Imagine Flaming Lips kept in check, or Geddy Lee on Quaaludes and life support.
These guys take their fantasy Lovecraft-inspired lyrics seriously as crescendos of sound erupt. Jams lead to cycles of hooky riffs with plenty of exploratory leads coaxed from Simon's axe.
Perhaps it's the decidedly non-metal vocal approach or the fact that they're three pale skinny guys that have stranded a large contingent of indierockers in the Meadow--but tours with Brian Jonestown Massacre and Super Furry Animals have far outnumbered the Dead Meadow shows with other stoner rock acts. Their original association to DC rock veteran Wino (St. Vitus, Spirit Caravan) by way of Fugazi offshoot label Tolotta sparked many diehard sludgeheads to treat Dead Meadow like a mellow comedown tool from their otherwise-violent metal fixes.
Dead Meadow's unerring classic rock approach solidifies their undeniable appeal to such a wide range of music fans, and while it's easy to get hung up on genre labels and scene segregation, at the end of the day these three guys are honestly making music they love, and sharing it with the rest of the high, happy minions.