Kicking out hard rock as if punk had never happened, the members of D.C.’s Dead Meadow re-create deep psychedelia from a time before they were even stinking up their cribs. Sandwiching acid-rock improv between slabs of dope-smokin’ riffage, the trio conjures images of sun goddesses, druidic seers, and “shivering kings.” Unless these dudes spent the last decade or so listening to the Byrds’ 20-minute live version of “Eight Miles High” in a bong-fortified basement, it’s hard to imagine this package is being delivered with anything other than ironic detachment. With a nasal voice that makes him sound like a wimpy Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Jason Simon sets the geek-fantasy mood right off the bat: “When I was young I traveled to distant lands/A castle arises from a sea of sand.” That first song, “Sleepy Silver Door,” begins with streams of proto-metal riffs that bleed out of the speakers like the ghosts of Blue Cheer and Budgie—at least until bassist Steve Kille (a Washington City Paper employee) and drummer Mark Laughlin join the fray, at which point Simon simplifies and rides a single distorted chord until the chorus. Reminiscent of Neil Young’s legendary one-note solo in “Cinnamon Girl,” Simon’s six-string minimalism is revisited throughout the disc, culminating in an album-closing trail of melodic Terry Riley-esque drone. Like all sensitive pre-’77 hard-rock bands (you know: Mountain, Hawkwind, Sir Lord Baltimore…), Dead Meadow knows when to bring it down, departing from riff-laden terrain for a couple of hippie ballads. The delay-drenched ax work on “Dragonfly” imagines the Edge ripping off Led Zeppelin’s hallucinatory “Tangerine,” and the most timeless cut of the lot, the fragile, acoustic “At the Edge of the Wood,” sounds almost like an outtake from Young’s After the Gold Rush. If it were 1971, this record would rule the fuckin’ school, man. —Brent Burton