Album Reviews

Dead Meadow – Howls From The Hills

(Xemu) UK release date: 7 May 2007


When you’re a stoner there nothing worse than seeing all those reports on the news about how the police are doing so well in raiding cannabis factories. Well, there is something worse: when those raids have a direct knock on effect on your supply. You sit there cursing your bad luck and the fact that everything feels way too real and speedy. Then your friend puts you on to a really handy taxi delivery service. They deliver direct to your door, and you don’t even need to go anywhere. Sweet. Problem solved, the only thing better than that would be if the pizza delivery guy delivered a baggie as a side dish.

Discovering Dead Meadow is a little like finding the number for the aforementioned taxi service in your back pocket after all your other avenues of tripped out stoner rock have dried up. After all, there are only so many times you can listen to Om’s majestic Conference of Birds.

So as you may have guessed Dead Meadow are, without a doubt, a stoner rock band. Any doubt you may have had disappears after about two and half minutes of opening track Drifting Down Streams when an ambient sweep of noise gives way to the sound of a drum kit falling down some stairs before it settles down into an assured solid beat that leaves you little option but to groove. Guitars bleed across each other in an overdriven wah-wah fug, while vocalist Jason Simon mumbles hypnotically over the sprawling mess pouring from the speakers.

Dead Meadow take the blues and slow it down to an ebb, so that it’s heart beat is barely audible. Jusiamere Farm grinds away like Zeppelin used to, while Everything’s Going On and The Breeze Always Blows takes Creedence’s Cajun rock ‘n’ roll and buries it deep in the delta swamps.

Great fat grooves are everywhere on this record, as are breeze block heavy guitars that drop ten tabs of acid, steal a toke off The Doobie Brothers and head off to flirt with Black Sabbath and Hendrix. The result is an album that is easy to get lost in as it weaves its hypnotic spell.

That Howls From The Hills is a reissue (it preceded 2005’s Feathers by a good four years) matters not a jot. These tunes sound current and of a different age simultaneously. Those unfamiliar with the band will find this as good a starting point as any of Dead Meadow’s later releases, while those affected by police raids and the lack of any illicit party materials will find the album a reasonable replacement for stoned kicks until the taxi arrives.


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More on Dead Meadow
Dead Meadow – Three Kings OST
Dead Meadow – Old Growth
Dead Meadow – Howls From The Hills
Dead Meadow – Feathers