Dead Meadow ‎– The Nothing They Need

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Dead Meadow's music has long suggested tunes from the Neil Young Songbook being played by a reefer-addled hard rock band slowly losing the will to live. (That's not an insult, by the way.) So it makes more than a bit of sense that the band's seventh studio album, 2018's The Nothing They Need, finds them sounding a little like Crazy Horse. (That's clearly a compliment, of course.) Jason Simon's guitar work doesn't bear much of a resemblance to the howling minimalist crunch of Young's signature style (with the exception of a killer break in "This Shaky Hand Is Not Mine"), but they have a similar appreciation for building big blocks of six-string menace without turning into a showoff, and Simon's use of the wah-wah pedal is nearly as inspired as Young's ability to build an iconic solo out of one note. Simon gets some help here from fellow guitarist Cory Shane, who returned to the Dead Meadow fold for these sessions, while bassist Steve Kille pairs off with three different drummers -- current timekeeper Juan Londono as well as guest appearances from former members Mark Laughlin and Stephen McCarty. (Yes, that's right, all past and present members appear on this LP.) Put all the ingredients together and The Nothing They Need approximates the warm but monolithic stomp of Crazy Horse at their peak, even when the songwriting is dour and inward-gazing, as in the blues-influenced "I'm So Glad" and the moody closing number, "Unsettled Dust." And if these guys don't exactly sound like they're having fun, this music finds them sounding focused and firmly committed to their own unique hybrid of stoner rock and massively amplified folk. Seventeen years into their recording career, Dead Meadow sound as primal and potent as ever on The Nothing They Need, a notion that ought to cheer them up. But don't count on it.