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Wednesday, September 15, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 17

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Days of the New makes return with too-complex new album and vision


Days of the New

Days of the New
13 tracks
62:10
Outpost Recordings

Grade: B


By Jesse Lauritz
Daily Cougar Staff

Before October 1998, Days of the New had everything going for it: a double-platinum album plus an opening gig on Metallica's tour. Everything was looking really great, but turmoil had begun to brew.

Lead vocalist Travis Meeks fired his band in the middle of its North American tour, only hours before it was supposed to go onstage in Texas.

Meeks argued that his former band members weren't really a band. When Meeks was being looked at by record companies, the band was just kind of thrown together. They were just a bunch of guys he knew.

Meeks had a different vision than the rest of the band, though, and the breakup was mostly a perception issue.

Bass player Jesse Vest, drummer Matt Taul and guitarist Todd Whitener didn't really see it that way, and after Meeks stranded them in Texas with 22 days left to play, they started a new band called Carbon-14.

They hired former Merge singer Hugo Ferreira and created a sound that Meeks said is exactly like that of the early Days of the New. Meeks was surprised because the band fought constantly over Meeks' decision to unplug the guitars and play grunge acoustically.

Since that time, Meeks has filled the vacant slots with lead guitarist Craig Wanderm and drummer Ray Rizzo, both from the Louisville-based band Java Men. He also added percussionist and singer Nicole Scherzinger to round out the new sound.

Meeks is still looking for a second guitarist and bass player before the band hits the road later this year.

Meeks plays most of the instruments and wrote the entire album himself. The year-long project was dedicated to producing a complete, complex album from beat to beat that no one could sit down and label after one quick listen.

With the exception of featuring the same title as the old band's 1997 debut, Days of the New is totally new.

The debut album had the feel of a post-grunge style with a young songwriter searching for his voice. Meeks has come back this time with a more extensive approach that suggests a metamorphosis.

The first single, "Enemy," is No. 14 and climbing up the Billboard Modern Rock chart. The blazing acoustic guitars sear through the beat with the echo of "oh yeah."

Other than "Enemy" and "Weapon and the Wound," Meeks' experimental new sound is often too much for the listener to grasp and interpret.

But he makes amends with highly energetic and creative instrumental lyrics, along with orchestras and layered vocals. A lot of percussion and chanting, along with some fiddle solos and rhythm loops, are also in the mix.

Unfortunately, Meeks' vision was too much for his ability. If he had stuck to the original sound the band found success with, he would be considered a giant rock star.

Instead, what you have with the new Days of the New is a lackluster album that screams artist-in-the-making. Meeks has a great voice, but it will take time for others to come around to his new sound.
 

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