The Upshot: Dead Meadow man serves up psychedelia and space music with elements of Americana worked in.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Jason Simon, the guitarist of Dead Meadow, has on his latest album, Familiar Haunts, veered away from the overt psychedelic stain he brings to his band’s records, exchanging it for a more nuanced addition to the songwriting. Imagine 16 Horsepower with its rickety, ramshackle banjo slap overlaid with Jason’s nasally voice. (As a side note, I wonder if anyone has noticed that Jason’s voice is a dead ringer for The Starling’s Chris Sheehan?)
Here, psychedelic flourishes from time to time percolate to the surface. Reexamining elements of Americana stretched over a rock canvas has been done before, and in many ways has become an unfortunate hipster badge of courage. Thankfully, on opener “The People Dance, The People Sing,” the banjo augmenting the track doesn’t overpower the tune, and instead the backwoods stomp that evolves provides a sinister, mud stained, entry point into the album. “Seven Sisters of Sleep” recalls Syd Barrett’s “Terrapin” in its slack narcotic haze. “Now I’m Telling You,” on the other hand, with its heavily distorted guitar and raga drone radiating in the background, brings the goods that we’ve come to expect from Mr. Simon; the tune’s atmospherics are a strange amalgam of Kraftwerk Autobahn era pulses and beats, and despite the hodgepodge nature of the song, it works to create a transcendental moment of dropping off the radar. “Wheels Will Spin” has a Jim Diamond-producing-White Stripes vibe to it, a cool track that expands the sonic palette that Simon pulls from.
All in all, the album’s lean 41 minutes has enough head candy to please Simon’s most ardent Dead Meadow followers, and yet still manages to chart some interesting direction for his future musical output. Seeing as there are only 250 copies that Cardinal Fuzz has pressed up, you might want to get your order in before Fred Mills gets his hands on one. (The Cardinal Fuzz site is showing, as of Thanksgiving, that only 4 copies are left. –Vinyl Freak Ed.)
DOWNLOAD: “Seven Sisters of Sleep” “The People Dance, The People Sing” “Now I’m Telling You” “Wheels Will Spin”