An interesting and slightly unexpected release on the Brian Jonestown Massacre's label – doubtless because Dead Meadow opened for that band, whose Anton Newcombe ended up providing the tapes – Got Live if You Want It! is, indeed, a show recording from a date in early 2002. The combination of sludge, drift and, in Jason Simon's singing, a surprisingly easy-to-grasp melodicism that defines the group stands out pretty well here, and, while long-time fans might debate the virtues of these takes with the studio ones, this is definitely a great starting point for those new to the group. Most of the selections come from the self-titled EP – the only Howls from the Hills song is a mighty fine "Dusty Nothing" – and, as befits the band's oldest songs, they sound well-seasoned in the group's capable hands. Simon's got it down as both a good singer and an even better guitarist; the odd semi-whine in his vocals might initially be a touch off-putting, but, by steering clear of more clichéd bellows or roars, it's a great contrast to the heavy-psych mania that the trio kicks up.
In Dead Meadow's universe, the wah-wah pedal is just as important as the guitar itself, and both are clearly more important than any sort of vocals. In fact, at first listen, singer/guitarist Jason Simon's barely audible whine puts the band's eponymous debut in some jeopardy before it has a chance to get underway. Coupled with the all-too-sluggish haze through which early tracks "Sleepy Silver Door" and "Indian Bones" slowly drift into focus, it may scare off many listeners before they can discover the secret of Dead Meadow's true appeal. First hinted at by the sweet, acoustic simplicity of "At the Edge of the Wood" (where the singer redeems himself with a gentle, much more effective Neil Young-like delivery), this subsequently takes shape via Simon's inspired guitar work. Displaying a subtle but nevertheless formidable control of tone and feedback, the guitarist creates a hypnotic wash of sound – akin to a softcore Hendrix. Having figured out this small mystery, open-minded stoner rock enthusiasts can then appreciate the laid-back perfection of the album's stellar second half.
On their third album, Shivering King and Others, Dead Meadow continues to prove just how apt their name is, crafting vast guitar epics that have all the beauty and strangeness of a frostbitten field at midnight. While both their self-titled debut and Howls From the Hills showed power and promise, they were still defined and confined by the heavy influence of forebears such as Zeppelin and Hendrix, as well as by contemporaries such as Bardo Pond. On this album – which is also their Matador debut – Dead Meadow seems to have found their own voice and pared their music down until it reflects nothing but their essence. The stunning opener, "I Love You Too," proves this immediately: based on a riff that's equally heavy and haunting, it unfolds over seven minutes, ebbing and flowing with squalling solos and Jason Simon's moody, reverb-cloaked vocals.
Film and orchestral music composer Eleni Karaindrou has made a beautiful and moving statement with THE WEEPING MEADOW. A native of Greece, Karaindrou's influences are decidedly European, and within the music, one can hear the stamp of impressionistic composers like Erik Satie, avant garde innovators like Bartok, as well as Greek and Balkan folk forms. Karaindrou's music also traffics in 20th-century minimalism, creating tense, atmospheric spaces that feel empty and dense at once (one of the composer's frequently used motifs involves "patterns" that recall the tingling, polyphonic gestures of Phillip Glass). Although several themes are reprised throughout the album, the combination of ambient textures, folk phrasing (accordions, guitars, and violins figure prominently into several pieces), and lush orchestral work keep the music consistently interesting. The pieces are often set in a minor key, so a somber, melancholic mood prevails yet never feels forced or melodramatic, and the spacious, tasteful arrangements are in keeping with the ECM aesthetic.
The opening tom hits and fuzzbox riffs that start Indigo Meadow give the indication that this is yet another turn on the Black Angels' merry-go-round of stoner rock and neo-psychedelia. However, the third song, "Don't Play with Guns," takes a decided turn with its big pop single hook, and the follow-ups "Holland" and "The Day" follow suit, as songs that are more carefully structured than the usual two-chord repetition that we've grown to expect. Not that there's anything wrong with the sound of bands like Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but after several albums based on repetition, this is a pleasant, unexpected change for the Austinites.
Bad Elephant Music is delighted to announce the release today of 'Given The Impossible', the new album from London-based progressive rock quintet The Far Meadow. The Far Meadow is the product of several previous collaborations, combining influences from bands past and genres from metal to jazz with a healthy dose of innovation that has produced a distinctive, free-flowing sound. This new album – the first with the current lineup - is a full-blooded expression of this sound, developing many years of musical experience and experimentation into one harmonious whole that encapsulates the intensity of their explosive live performances.