The voyage into psychedelic rock induced trauma started with a dose of Dead Meadow at the Orpheum Theater in the heart of downtown Los Angeles amidst skid row and rotting penny arcades from the turn of the century. Dead Meadow, while unknown in popular circles, is a D.C. based band that is already wrapping up their fourth studio album and touring with obscure acts like the famed cult rock band from Glasgow, Mogwai.
The stage was projected with tie dyed lights, a trippy semblance of colors covering the undulating rhythms of Dead Meadow’s guitar crazed rock. Dead Meadow is lead by Jason Simon’s guitar and vocals through the mystic levels of rock n’ roll psychosis. The addition of Cory Shane on guitar enables the band to develop the sound of the Meadow further into abstraction, producing instrumentation that is on the cusp of experimentation. Driving the tractor for the band through the waves of blues inspired guitar slaying in the likeness of old Hendrix solos, is Stephen McCarty on drums. McCarty is the band’s second drummer. The original beat thumper, Mark Laughlin, left the band in 2002 opening up the Meadow for the pulse of MCarty, who wanders in and out of consciousness with the color of the music, maintaining a mechanistic time on his kit like the Bonham days of Zeppelin. Only McCarty revels in more of rhythmic entropy rather than the overpowered playing of Bonham. Fortunately for the band, McCarty loaned out his grand pappy’s farmhouse for them to record one of their more celebrated albums Howls From The Hills (Tolotta Records).
In the album Howls From The Hills, and in the grasp of the hand painted dirt encrusted frescoes of the Orpheum, the billowing expanse of air was a catechism of misanthropic guitar rhythms and saturated bass lines from loyal bassist Steve Kile. The prominence of the bass is understated in the studio recordings, but within the walls of this theater the low frequency vibration was reverberating through the walls of the foundation. The lines brought continuity to the sound that carried the crowd through the diabolical riffs, and sent people’s minds into a state like an opium bender coated in blotter acid.
Guiding the ears of the audience was Simon’s voice directing their attention into the psychedelic patterns of orange and red light on stage. The Meadow was inviting their listeners to experience the madness of soft death, illustrated by the inundated lyrics and fertile melodies that Dead Meadow as a band uncovers. Signs of distraction toward this purpose were absent, focused on their own cornucopia of wild surreal dreams; exploring Southern fields burned by a desire to reach into the essence of life. The music spanned the devastation and creation of the harvest cycle.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to wander through a burned field of celebrated melodies and dissonant guitar rhythms, then I recommend you diligently acquire the newest release, Feathers, from this cult-creating circle of sedated psych-rock musicians.