"I can't tell if we're running from or coming to," singer/guitarist Jason Simon muses on the folky, eulogic "Ain't Got Nothing (To Go Wrong)," his voice dripping with idiosyncratic weariness. He could easily be opening up to a lover, making a statement about the accelerating decline of Western civilization, or summing up his band's lack of genre identity. When Washington, D.C.'s Dead Meadow formed, reverb-saturated stoner metal was on the menu; with 2005's Feathers, a shift was made to reverb-soaked stoner-psychedelic rock. Now Old Growth finds the group dabbling in country, blues, and straight-up rock—Black Mountain sans estrogen, with a bigger gravity bong and more dynamite kind bud. They are fully and finally, it seems, themselves: dipping slurred platitudes and political complaints into open-armed tunes, and as bold as they are inviting. "Between Me and the Ground" takes aim at the Bush administration — "All across this great earth, you cheat and you fight/I bet you sleep easier than I do at night" — while vacillating between lamb-calm and lion-tough. "The Great Deceiver" sports a country-rock gait. Its easygoing, twangy riff crunches and pedal-steel drones move at porch-swing speed as Simon (who, I suspect, idolizes Perry Farrell) spins a sort of blues-trope yarn about a woman who finds Satan everywhere she turns.
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