53°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

3-4-24 PDF
March 4, 2024
2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Dead Meadow: Sabbath Riffs and Tolkein Fascinations

I love you sweet leaf.
Mark Owens
I love you sweet leaf.

There are things about Dead Meadow that are curious. Their self-described sound of dirty blues-rock and dreamy psych is echoed in their sixties-style album art. This description is a bit strange for a band on the Matador record label-home to the likes of Interpol, Mogwai, Guided By Voices, and The Fall. For a band often tagged as stoner rock, putting out records through Matador seems a bit puzzling. With that in mind, Dead Meadow hail from our national (murder) capital, D.C., the land of Ian Mackaye and Discord Records. To complicate matters further, the band unabashfully sites literary figures such as J.R.R. Tolkein and H.P. Lovecraft as not only influences, but as defining aspects of their music. Apparently, a cool record label, dorky reading material, experience with Fugazi bassist Joe Lally’s Tolotta Records, and impeccable blending of Sabbath riffs with floating vocals can create a band as good as Dead Meadow.

Their sound doesn’t speak much of their background growing up among D.C.’s all-ages shows. Rather than staying home in dimly lit rooms with piles of records and Dungeon and Dragons manuals, the boys of Dead Meadow were involved in the local scene, eventually joining forces to consummate the marriage of their influences, not their surroundings. In three years, singer-guitarist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille, and drummer Mark Laughlin were releasing albums, recording in Indiana and playing scores of shows. They were eventually invited to tour with so-called indy godfathers Guided by Voices, so beginning their relationship with Matador. In 2002 they were requested to play by the late, great John Peel and, oddly, were one of the only bands to record a Peel session outside of England.

Their latest record, Feathers, delves deeper into the bowels of psychedelia and is a bit of a departure from their prior release Shivering King and Others. Where as the majority of other stoner rock bands seem to be content masturbating to the tune of their own weed-inspired riff noodling, Dead Meadow aim a little higher. Feathers is a perfect title for such a transition, Jason Simon’s vocals seem more appropriate over dreamy visions of hobbits, where they had been lost in previous albums of thick guitar grooves. The melodies are incredibly subtle and you’ll find yourself falling in love with the lines of sounds that are hidden under wispy vocals. Feathers never has that bath-time affect, the songs are too well done to ever make you uncomfortably detached from your surroundings and, let’s say, get in a car crash.

The band played a showcase show at SXSW (South By South-West for some uncouthed gentlemen in the crowd) with the likes of Stephen Malkmus and Pretty Girls Make Graves, despite an apparent denial of water and oh-so delicious Bud Light. They are currently touring with Trail of the Dead and recently made a stop at Great Scott with Sub Pop’s Italian Import, Jennifer Gentle. Don’t let the somewhat fruity name give you the wrong impression; Europeans are about more than just car commercial Acid-House. Jennifer Gentle’s sound consisted of a refreshing blend of poppy sixties song structures with random cow bells and unidentifiable percussive additions. On top of that, vocalist Marco Fasolo graced the audience with his excellent combination of falsettos and bloody screams; truly wonderful.

Check out Dead Meadow at Newbury comics, their latest release might even be on sale. For more information, go to www.deadmeadow.com and for Jennifer Gentle downloads, go to www.subpop.com.