Dead Meadow: Feathers
Did Washington, D.C.’s Dead Meadow get sick of Black Sabbath references popping up in its reviews? Feathers certainly gives that impression, mostly eschewing the loud heavy-metal guitars that plowed through nearly every track on 2003’s Shivering King and Others—the better for you to peep the resin-encrusted melodies rumbling within their turbulent, storm-cloud songs. When singer/guitarist Jason Simon drawls, “Let’s jump in for a quick swim,” at the outset, he’s wildly understating; Feathers is mellower, a classic-rockin’ bog of guitars—bolstered by the post-King addition of a second guitarist, Cory Shane—that posits what might result if Sonic Youth tried to write a Neil Young record.
As pretty as sunbeams glancing off a lake on a late spring day, “Stacy’s Song” doubles its melodic money, setting a precise, acoustic version alongside one eked out in lysergic, effects-pedaled electric-ax globules. “Such Hawks Such Hounds” is more grounded, its midspeed cluster of dark chordage anchored, propelled, and pivoted by Stephen McCarty’s increasingly tougher drumming. What were they thinking with “Through the Gates of the Sleepy Silver Door,” which sounds like members of a dedicated drum circle trying to bust their hands open? That, and their lapses into the blaring bluster of yesteryear on “Let’s Jump In” and the untitled final track, bar Feathers from stoner-rock Valhalla. Throughout, though, Simon’s throat gains capital as the band’s secret weapon—the weary, self-satisfied voice of a man who has polished off his stash, become one with his bean-bag chair, and is suddenly a font of quasi-Renaissance-era verse.