Dead Meadow: The Pride of Our Nation’s Capital
April 7, 2005 @ Chop Suey
By Tyson Lynn
When you think of Washington D.C., you’re thinking of the seat of our nation – you’ve got Congress, you’ve got the White House, you’ve got the President. If you move past that, you’ve got Marion Barry and one of the highest crime rates in the nation. Not necessarily pleasant thoughts.
What you should be thinking of instead is Dead Meadow, a band who are heavier than the National Monument and higher than Barry could ever hope to be. Jason Simon, Steve Kille, and Mark Laughlin formed Dead Meadow seven years ago in the hopes of restoring 70’s hard rock, psychedelic pop, and hot southern boogie to their former glories.
Their 2000 debut was self-titled and was released on fellow D.C. dweller and Fugazi bassist Joe Lally’s Tolotta Records. Recorded in their basement practice space, it was nothing more than a glorified demo, but it had promise – promise which their 2001 album, Howls from the Hills, delivered. Showcasing Simon’s high insistent voice and rough guitar licks, Kille’s lumbering bass, and Laughlin’s punkish poly-rhythms, the album incorporated everything from white-noise guitar drones to down-home southern rock, puff-puff-pass space funk to wiry punk, with more than a few points in between.
2002 found Dead Meadow in transition. The trials and requirements of touring forced Laughlin out, only to be replaced by friend and collaborator Stephen McCarty, at whose grandfather’s farmhouse the band recorded Howls…. That same year found Dead Meadow a mentor. Former Brian Jonestown Massacre member Anton Newcombe oversaw their live disc Got Live if You Want It, which was released on Newcombe’s Committee to Keep Music Evil. The year closed as the band was invited by BBC Radio One to record a John Peel Session, which they did in Fugazi’s practice space.
As their notoriety grew, so did their ambition. They signed to Matador in early 2003 and then headed to the infamous DC Pirate House to record their third album. Self-produced over the course of five months, Shivering King and Others marked a breakthrough. Incorporating a newfound psychedelic aesthetic, the band put enough material to tape for two albums, with swirling instrumental jams featured among their funky blues and edgy rock.
Which brings us to 2005. The addition of second guitarist Cory Shane broadened the effervescent layers of riffs and fuzz that has become Dead Meadow’s signature on their newest album, Feathers. A workout of rock, a reminder of habits you can’t remember, and with an occasional nod to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the album offers you heady melodies and sloping destruction in equal measure.
You want a trip? How about two? Head out to the Chop Suey and catch Dead Meadow this Thursday. You’ll travel further than you expect when they hit the stage. Don’t try to remember where you parked, just pin your address to your shirt and take a taxi. It’ll save you the embarrassment of trying to sound out your street name when your head is so far away.
Note: Dead Meadow play Seattle’s Chop Suey April 7 with Jennifer Gentle, The Out Crowd and The Can’t See.