album reviews

Dead Meadow
Old Growth
Matador (2008)

It may sound impossible for a band to be up-tempo and mellow at the same time, but Los Angeles (by way of Washington) trio Dead Meadow pulls it off on its fifth album, "Old Growth." The group's mellowness comes from its repetitious riffs and from guitarist Jason Simon's trance-inducing croon, while the tempo comes from Steve Kille's heavy bass lines and Stephen McCarty's peppery drums.

Album opener "Ain't Got Nothing (To Go Wrong)" sets the mood. It's the album's longest song at nearly seven minutes, and it starts with chords that swing like a pendulum, with Simon adding slurred lyrics but no real emotion. The song ends much the way it begins: The guitar is more distorted and the bass line moves faster, but it's still a pulsing tune whose echoes die down into silence.

A few songs on "Old Growth" seem to have more of a driving purpose. Simon's voice evokes frustration on " 'Till Kingdom Come," while "Seven Seers" is almost lullaby-esque in its calmness. With chiming guitars that sound Middle Eastern in tone, that song is one of the most distinctive on the album because of its sheer restraint.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 11 April 2008
.: Old Growth on