Meadower - 1994
Record Label: Haunted Snowman
Release Date: January 2011
It seems like every spring, I come across some band that sounds like they just hopped off a time machine with a sound straight out the late '90s and early '00s, particularly from the Deep Elm roster during that period. Last year, it was Everyone Everywhere, the year before, My Heart to Joy. At times, I feel like we're guilty of perpetuating nostalgia for a largely fetishized era, a pseudo-Golden Age of sorts that probably wasn't quite what we make it out to be-- call it experiential bias or whatever-- but when its influence results in bands like the aforementioned making powerful records with the ability both to bring us back and drive us forward, it reminds me that the idol worship, theirs anyway, is more than justified. (My own idle idol worship, perhaps not.) Leading the way for this year's class is a Detroit collective known as Meadower, propelled by their taut six-track EP entitled 1994.
The set opens with "Family Tree", a bit of a noodly tune that recalls Slint's hypnotic sense of dynamics, though it's not as stark or as dire as anything on Spiderland. Its successor "Pre-Latin" draws a sharp contrast, as it's brighter, strummier and more uptempo than the opener, though not without its own slightly unsettling air. This alternating of moods continues on for the disc's duration, as the third track "Jealous and Weaving" penetrates the psyche with its austere, creeping guitar lines that sound equally informed by early post-rock bands and the Kinsellas, while "Hesitate and Go" adds an almost Britrock jangle to their still-distinctly-Midwestern feel. Though Meadower's sound would probably be described by mostly everyone as (or at the very least compared to) classic emo, 1994 largely avoids going the wistful yearning route until the Promise Ring-esque "Wrong", whose dramatic shifts carry a palpable passion and make the song an easy highlight. "Fishers Hook" brings the EP to a close, coupling a jittery, almost Foals-like rhythm with vocalist Matt Provost singing plaintively about not being able to have what you want.
When asked to provide us with a RIYL, Meadower offered us "Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr., Minus the Bear," a trio of powerhouses to be sure. However, 1994 is not as discordant as Ian MacKaye's band of post-hardcore pioneers; not as distorted, as histrionic or as Southern as J Mascis's guitar-god heroics; and not as groovy and inventive as Dave Knudsen's mathy excursions. That's not to dismiss their suggestion; if those three bands were vertices of a triangle, it wouldn't be far off the mark to assert that Meadower lies somewhere near the center of the, admittedly quite large, triangle. Which is to say, they sound pretty damn awesome.