BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Old Mexico — a collaboration between Dead Meadow’s Jason Simon, Dave Mihaly, and Tucson’s Trans Van Santos — is a meditation and musical gathering that is an emotionally stirring, well-wrought LP. “Past the Western Wall” is a beautiful, set-your-spirit-aflutter type of track that combusts into widescreen psychedelic free jazz. I have this track on repeat every time I play it. “Stellar Jay” could be Giant Sand, with its introspective, loose, and unassuming vibe; it works really well. “Black Matador” has brilliance abounding with its ‘60s CCR feel. The track loosely unfurls for the listener, wrapping you in its tender grip. “The Old Ones” feels oddly familiar, yet is a real stunner with its slow shuffle and smoky saxophone. Sax is a tricky instrument that can easily sound overwrought or end up making a cool song sound schmaltzy, but here, it augments and toys with the proceedings with both flair and dexterity that help amalgamate the collective rumblings into something bold and compelling.
Kudos guys—this is some memorable stuff! “Neon Tree” gives Sixteen Horsepower a run for their fire and brimstone money. It’s cast in a simple repetitive fashion, building like a mantra that will send you spinning off like a whirling dervish. Album closer “Madeline Kahn” is a nocturnal plaintive number that, in my mind’s eye, evokes images of a thunderstorm dying over some barren stretch of land between nothing and not much else.
To say that I loved this album is a severe understatement. The beauty contained within only grows upon repeated listens. A stone cold, under-the-radar gem.
DOWNLOAD: “Past the Western Wall” “Stellar Jay” “Neon Tree” “Madeline Kahn”