Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Dead Meadow 

Shivering King and Others

Wednesday, Aug 20 2003
Imagine a big, steaming plate of scrambled eggs, fluffy, syrup-drenched pancakes, and a heap of bacon: juicy, dangerous, satisfying, excessive. The adjectives that an artery-clogging greasy-diner breakfast evokes are not unlike the words you might use to describe what Washington, D.C.'s Dead Meadow strives for. On its debut for indie juggernaut Matador Records, the trio attempts a re-creation of big, slow, '70s riff-rock, the kind of music scruffy kids in corduroys listen to while staring at black-light posters and conjuring the munchies.

Shivering King and Others' 12 tracks find the band veiling nerdy Dungeon Master lyrics with thick, Black Sabbath-worthy guitars as viscous as cholesterol and drum swaggers that would make an ass-shaker like Mick Jagger proud. While singer/guitarist Jason Simon's paper-thin crooning leaves much to be desired (a fact the group seems to mask by burying the vocals in the mix), the magnanimous ambition of his riffing all but makes up for it. Simon clearly possesses a fondness for the blues, as each solo finds him swinging the notes as much as possible. When done right -- see the White Stripes or any of Jack White's predecessors -- this technique exudes a rich emotion dependent on rhythmic imperfections, an emotion more gut-wrenching than simple precision. The problem is, Dead Meadow too often comes off sounding as forced as, well, Jack Black (Tenacious D).

To be fair, you get the impression that appearing in a live setting might be the necessary catalyst for this band to realize its grand aspirations. Listening to the record, you suspect that your breakfast was left out to cool while the waitress smoked a cigarette. If, given the confines of an echoing venue as opposed to compact-disc technology, the drums are loud and the guitars louder, we can reasonably hope for the sonic satiation the Meadow seems capable of. And if these results are anything like what's hinted at on the album, it's certainly worth the risk.

About The Author

Abigail Clouseau


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"