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Days of the New

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  • Days of the New’s 1997 self-titled debut (and to many people’s confusion, ALL their albums are self-titled, usually referred to by a sequential number) is an interesting blend of different styles of music, ranging from rock to folk, grunge to…country, I guess (I don’t listen to country – nor do I hate it – but this is fairly close to it, I guess). Many people wrote the band off as an acoustic rip-off of such bands as Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, but after having this album for about two years now, I have thoroughly determined that this is a false accusation.What we have here is the brainchild of singer/guitarist/songwriter Travis Meeks. At the time of this album’s recording, he was only 17! His voice, a deep, droning croon that has often had comparisons (for good or for bad) to Eddie Vedder’s, is expertly used for the best – his screams are scattered but effective. And good lord, LISTEN to him play guitar! Carefully picking and plucking his notes and chords, he set himself quite apart from the many post-grunge bands that lack any talent whatsoever (Puddle of What?). And his band is quite impressive, as well: Justin Whitener as the second guitarist is just as good as Meeks, not to mention a good backing vocalist. Jesse Vest is an okay bassist; nothing of a particular stand-out, but he keeps a good rhythm going, and can be complex at times. And then there’s Matt Taul on drums. He is without a doubt an excellent drummer, with nice fills and creative, lyrical percussions that complement each song. It was due to the “grunge rip-off” comparisons that Travis Meeks would struggle to change the band’s sound and explore new territories, and the rest of the band, not wanting their styles crimped, would quit. They later picked up singer Hugo Ferreira and formed the band Tantric, and utilized a much more electrified sound.Some songs, such as the leading single “Touch, Peel, and Stand” and its follow-up, “The Down Town” do share something of a “grungy” feel to them. I suppose if those songs were played using electric guitar with some level(s) of distortion, they COULD probably be considered at least some sort of post-grunge-era rock band. Other songs, such as “Shelf in the Room,” “Solitude,” and “What’s Left for Me?” have more of a ballad-y feel, with a heavy folk influence. The album has a whole blend of musical styles, and it’s ALL acoustic, even the solos and leads. My favorite solo: on “Now” – just listen as Meeks and Whitener alternate solos with ease. It’s a great collection, and fairly long (not counting the two minutes of silence before the hidden instrumental at the end, the album is over an hour long!).And speaking of that extra track, we have a lush, springtime feel as we hear birds tweeting and wind blowing, thunder cracking in the sky, and a single acoustic guitar strumming and picking away beautifully. Then…the guitar stops, and we hear more of the wildlife. Shortly after, the guitar returns, plucking notes as a bongo (or similar drum) starts to pulse. Just listen to it. It’s an excellent closing piece.So there it is in a nutshell: Days of the New is not just another post-grunge band. They are (or rather, Travis Meeks himself is) a musical phenomena that blends different styles and should be given their deserved credit as one of the more original and interesting of the ’90’s rock bands.

    Posted on December 18, 2009