Dead Meadow - Warble Womb
Record Label: Xemu
Release Date: November, 26 2013
The modern psychedelic rock fan has it hard in the digital age. Whereas one can generally fit most band’s entire discographies on a dime store Mp3 player, one live Phish album probably requires a 500GB external hard drive. The modern psychedelic rock band also has it hard in this hyper-active time of instant criticism. How can you explain a song that doesn’t even make sense after the twelfth listen? Thus it is no surprise that the new millennium has been cruel to this quirky sub-genre. Sure the genre has a devoted following, but most people can’t understand why a song is interrupted by someone massaging a guitar for seven minutes. So one has to give psych rock credit for still existing in the face of seemingly imminent destruction. The band Dead Meadow are certainly a band that is keeping the psych flame alive. They play at festivals like “Psycho De Mayo”, talk a lot about higher powers, and share half of their name with The Grateful Dead. Dead Meadow’s latest offering Warble Womb is a unrestrained salute to psych rock as well as evidence that they are capable of successfully escaping from the tie-dye colored restraints of the sub-genre.
The album opens with what people from expect from Dead Meadow. “Six to Let the Light Shine Thru” is a seven minute long guitar fest composed of one bass riff and lyrics that make no sense. Even the title kind of sounds like Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4". Then the album does something weird. "1000 dreams" is more Jack White then Frank Zappa, and contains things like structure and cohesion. But just when you are ready to label this album as a departure for Dead Meadow they respond with "Mr. Chesty" a song that is so psychedelic the promo video features a friggen Sasquatch playing the tambourine. That track is followed by “I'm Cured “ a six minute song where the lyrics are not quite audible and the guitar sounds curiously like a sitar. And then the next track which is also the title track has an actual sitar and the whole notion that Dead Meadow is not a psychedelic band becomes rather silly. Warble Womb contains more songs that are unquestionably psych. Notable among these is the spectacularly named “The Song is Over”. It is nearly ten minutes long, contains almost no lyrics and the riffs don’t go on some kind of Mogwai like exodus. Instead the bass line just hammers away at your eardrums and before you realize it you are in a pseudo reality wondering how soon bears would take over the world if they had human like intelligence.
Warble Womb is not all Yeti’s playing percussion instruments. "Yesterday’s Blowing Back" appears at the sixth slot like some kind of sonic light of clarity. This is an obvious contender for best track of the album, and quite simply is a good song. The song has an obvious purpose and the instrumentals conform to the lyrics instead of the other way around. Also "One More Toll Taker" is a superb acoustic song. A genre purist might say these tracks don’t belong on the album. But genre purists are stuffy know-it-alls during the best of times. Fans of psych music and its distorted cousin stoner rock won’t be disappointed with this album. There are only three clear deviations from the psyche formula. (A more apt description would be the psyche non-formula.) Yet those deviations are so good that they deserve a listen from people who don’t prefer their rock concerts in the middle of the woods for seven days.