A prodigy comes through

Red (Interscope)

Days of the New

By Kevin Gibson

When Days of the New burst onto the national music scene back in 1997, each of us in Louisville felt like we were a small part of it. We had seen the band perform at the Harvest Showcase, for crying out loud, and at the state fair.

The band's initial album did well - helped in part by an interesting acoustic metal approach -- and put the band on the map. Then lead man Travis Meeks fired his band and regrouped to release Days of the New 2 in 1999. The hype began to die off. To be honest I hadn't heard much about this, DOTN's third album, until it was placed in my hands. Well, if the hype has died out somewhat, Meeks' subtle talents certainly haven't.

With his writing style and grinding voice, Meeks makes Days of the New sound almost like Pearl Jam Jr. That hasn't changed. What has changed is that Meeks has full reign in the music studio and plenty of time to experiment. On (Red), this has allowed his imagination to stretch out and his songwriting to reach closer to its full potential.

"Hang on to This," the first single from this album, is everything you want in a rock radio song: driving rhythms, pulsing guitars and a dark intensity that inhabits most rock in the early 21st century. But Meeks' pop sensibilities still shine through, both in the arrangements and sonic qualities of the music. Days of the New doesn't try to knock you out with noise; rather, it prefers to reel you in as close as it can so you can feel the power full on.

I'm a fan of "Fighting With My Clay," a three-minute song about manipulation built around an almost Billy Squier-like groove. Again, the power and thickness are restrained enough to make this accessible while still maintaining that rock radio strength Days of the New is known for.

There are times when the album veers into territory that doesn't seem to quite fit the mission - "Best of Life" begins as a hard rocker with lots of pop undertones, then becomes a chanting-and-sound-effects journey like something out of a very bad dream. But for the most part, this is a collection of solid, diverse rock songs - not too long, not too short, usually accessible and at the same time ambitious.

Meeks has been dealt his share of criticism for a variety of reasons, but one thing we can't take away from the young man is that he knows what to do when he sits down to write and record. Best I can remember, that's what the art of making music all about. Right?