Somewhere between bluesy hard-rock, shoegaze, and metal lies the hard-hitting, stoney romanticism of Dead Meadow. Their 2003 album Shivering King and Others set the mark for just about every garage rock band that has been in vogue for the past ten years…Tim Presley, Ty Segall, and the Black Angels are most certainly indebted to these guys, though if you wanted to hear something right on the same wavelength as Dead Meadow, Causa Sui would be the way to go.
Like Bardo Pond, Dead Meadow can take a simple groove and turn it into a weird fuzzy odyssey. Rock music is not really all that intellectual…it is mostly just about an abstract feeling of the body. Though this album’s standout, “Heaven”, is proof enough that they can craft a song, where the band has always excelled is delivering these rambling space-rock excursions that do not commit fully to hard rock– the tempo to their rocking is relaxed and dreamy. Furthermore, Jason Simon’s plaintive voice sounds more like Isobel Sollenberger than Ozzy Osbourne– it’s like the guy is calling out from a wind-swept wilderness.
The really intriguing thing about this band that critics sometimes gloss over is their incorporation of blues-rock influences. What made metal and psych rock significant in the history of rock was their gradual dilution of the blues influence in rock and roll. Dead Meadow, though, threads this influence into their hazy take on hard rock pretty gracefully. “Good Moanin'”, a loose cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Moanin’ at Midnight”, is an ingenious space-rock take on a classic more satisfying to my ears than the version Wolf himself recorded for the psych-themed The Howlin’ Wolf Album.
For my readers in Portland, be sure to catch Dead Meadow tomorrow, June 4th at the Doug Fir Lounge! It’s sure to be a great one.