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Dead Meadow: Old Growth


Dead Meadow: Old Growth

Label:Matador
Format:Album
Media:CD
Release Date:2008
Genre:Recording

By Steve Erickson | Posted 3/5/2008

With its fourth album, Feathers, Dead Meadow achieved a breakthrough by folding together several decades' worth of psychedelia. The band has always been rooted in the moment when acid rock turned into heavy metal in the hands of Blue Cheer, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and fellow travelers, but it has recently sounded more like Spacemen 3. In fact, in parts of Old Growth, the resemblance is uncanny. The opening track, "Ain't Got Nothing (to Go Wrong)," could pass for an outtake from the Spacemen 3's The Perfect Prescription. Dead Meadow's current sound takes the machismo out of metal while leaving in all the bite; Jason Simon's guitar playing favors clusters of distorted notes over the showy shredding that hard-rock solos eventually turned into.

There's something relaxed, even lackadaisical, about the band: Simon's vocals sound genuinely stoned. Honoring texture over melody, the songs on Old Growth tend to run together, despite the band's best attempts to vary the album with acoustic guitar-driven songs such as "Down There" and the slowly developing "Seven Seers." The high point is "Hard People/Hard Times," which implicitly makes a case for psychedelia's continuing relevance, linking '60s protest songs such as Hendrix's "Machine Gun" to the current warmongering regime. For once, Dead Meadow's slow groove carries real menace rather than a dreamy drift. The rest of the time, it is sorely in need of new inspiration; at best, Old Growth achieves pleasant mediocrity.

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