Familiar Haunts is the sophomore, and ever-so-slightly warped, brainchild of ex-Dead Meadow member Jason Simon. As intimate and sparse as its predecessor, the creator's solo project continues to defy the brooding rock of Simon's background with a haunting and laid back take on old folk/country vibes.
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- Familiar Haunts by Jason Simon
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Jason Simon is not, in fact, a cyborg implementation of Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson and Simon & Garfunkels’ Paul Simon, but rather a once-member of old-school psychedelic stoner sleeper crew Dead Meadow. What’s he doing solo, you ask? Oh, you know, the usual: a riff here, a riff there, some haughty vocal sadness. ‘Familiar Haunts’ seems to hint at the usual trajectory for someone who once made harder, more angular guitar music, in that it borrows a little bit of Americana, something from the open road, to make its point.
Built with a bluesy persuasion and a countrified approach to fretslidin’, these songs instantly feel more affectionate: “Without Reason or Right Video” has a lovely, yawning guitar figure with a dubbed vocal echo, making the tune feel both romantic and spooked -- there are ghosts out on his highway. Simon’s love of traditional, or the idea of traditional, comes bleeding out in songs like “Pretty Polly”, where his guitar rolls on down the road as he sings about how he used to be a rambler, has hung in the mountains and knows a girl called Polly. Very country, sir.
While mostly feeling like a solo road trip for the hazy holidays of Jason Simon, this record does roll back into the hard rock territory, a stoner beat and psychedelic vocal fracture driving “Wheels Will Spin” through ten minutes of rocky terrain. Still, there’s something a little lovely about this track -- the way Simon inflicts certain moments feels quite pining, and a darn-sight more emotional than the very different slow jamming of Dead Meadow. Recommended for the ramblin’ among you.
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