Dead Meadow – “Shivering King and Others” (2003)

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We are deep into Autumn now, on the cusp of winter, and this time of year can make me nostalgic for certain albums. For me, Dead Meadow’s “Shivering King and Others” is a quintessential fall album. When I close my eyes and let my imagination wander, the sounds from this album evoke mountains rising from fog, brown and orange colored forests, and cold rain showers. Yesterday, the images in my head were a reality, and so I took the opportunity to listen to the album for the first time in a while. Years ago I was obsessed with anything stoner or psychedelic rock, and though some of the bands I listened to back then have lost their charm, Dead Meadow still hold a special place in my heart.

From the beginning flickers of feedback and giant guitar riff of “I Love You Too”, I was instantly reminded of what made this album and really Dead Meadow in general so great. The enormity of everything on display here is quite spectacular. The band creates a very hypnotic trance with their repetitive song structures and Jason Simon’s lackadaisical vocals and while those two things may sound like negatives, they really aren’t. The songs are always building towards something and Jason Simon’s effects-driven guitar solos manage to keep things from the realm of uninteresting. Certainly, this is an album made to be played loudly so you can feel the thud of the bass guitar and be enveloped by the songs, so you can truly feel the hypnotic qualities of the album.

“Shivering King and Others” also brings quite a diverse track listing as well. While many of the songs are quite lengthy and the album itself is over an hour long, spliced in with the longer tracks are two interludes hardly longer than a minute each: “Wayfarers All” and “She’s Mine”. “Wayfarers All” is a pretty acoustic tune while “She’s Mine” feels like it was edited out of a longer song. Honestly, “She’s Mine” is one of my favorite moments despite passing by so quickly, there is such a vibe to the song and the guitar playing by Jason Simon is beautiful; if it is an excerpt from a longer tune, I really wish I could hear the full cut. You also have “Babbling Flower” and “The Whirlings” which are probably the most traditional and straightforward “rock” songs on the album, with thumping guitars and rhythm and a pretty subdued track time. The rest of the songs, however, are psychedelic journeys.

My favorite part of “Shivering King and Others” is what I like to call the trilogy of the album, three songs that come right after the other and I think are meant to be considered as one: “Good Moanin'”, “Golden Cloud”, and “Me and the Devil Blues”. “Good Moanin'” is such a heavy track! This is where turning up the volume really does wonders so you get the full effect of every bass string and wailing guitar solo. You could certainly bang your head to this track and just thinking about the song right now makes my heart thud to its rhythm. After that, “Golden Cloud” enters, and while it is mellow in comparison there is still some bite in this song, but also there is beauty. This is my favorite song on the album. I love Jason Simon’s singing, the gorgeous lyrics, the hauntingly beautiful melody, and the fantastic rhythm. To me, this is the song that epitomizes the best things about Dead Meadow and even after all of these years I still find myself obsessed with it. “Me and the Devil Blues” gives the trilogy a proper send-off with, as the title implies, a very bluesy feeling.

Dead Meadow are a fantastic band in my opinion with a pretty diverse discography. They always change their sound up a little bit on each record they release, but for me “Shivering King and Others” was when I enjoyed them the most. Certainly a close second would either be “Feathers” or their mostly live album “Three Kings”. For my personal tastes, Dead Meadow evoke the best aspects of stoner and psychedelic rock, and for that reason they are the current kings of the genre.

 

10/10

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