On October 14th, Austin Meade released his new record, Abstract Art of an Unstable Mind. There’s a lot to say about this album, but you should know one thing before we dive into it. This isn’t Black Sheep. This isn’t Waves. You can’t box this record up into a certain genre. Meade has a way of experimenting with every release he has had and finding a new creative wavelength each time. Abstract Art of an Unstable Mind is perhaps his most experimental album to date when it comes to different styles, sounds and even songwriting. I hesitate to call a record a “concept album,” but there are hints of a continuing story or character as the tracks go on. You can think of it that way or don’t, but regardless, come into this record not knowing what to expect and leave all your preconceived notions at the door because I promise you that it will knock you on your ass.
Kicking off the album is a radio station skit that pops up throughout the album with various band members showing off their chops as hacky DJs, which is hilarious of course if you know anything about the humor that Meade and his guys convey whether it be in song or music video. The first song we get is “Violation Delight,” which is a tune he’s been playing for a while at his live shows, so it’s awesome we finally get a studio release. It’s a solid hard-hitting rock number to kick things off, complete with the raw delivery of Meade’s lyrics, razor sharp riffs and heavy tones. The hook is infectious, and the melody is pristine, which carries on throughout the record. In addition to that, the brief guitar solo after the bridge is face-melting.
The next track is a personal favorite of mine, which was released as a single back in June. “Red Roof Estates” cemented the thought in my head that Meade is not a one trick pony. He can bring it in every style. Different than anything he’s ever done, “Red Roof Estates” is basically a funk infused rock song with a huge disco influence. The rhythm section shines here with the four-on-the-floor drum technique and killer bass line compliments of Jordan Pena, keeping the groove grounded while the guitar work is also spotlighted at certain points. “Sinner of the City” is a fun one. While the lyrics describe the subject as a sex-addicted sad sack, Meade’s storytelling keeps you engaged in his unique way to keep it super interesting. His delivery and cadence are also different than a lot of his previous songs, but he lands it in every verse. “Late Night Letdown” is up next, and it can best be described as a jam. The melody is elite, the lyrics are mint and the sound coming from that guitar is tasty. Just for the instrumental aspect alone, this could be one of the top tracks on this record for sure.
After some more corny jokes from our radio DJs in the skit following the last track, we get “Queen of the Letdown,” which is a solid rocker. Meade’s songwriting is great here and the hook is once again very easy to get caught on to. Something very consistent with his work not only on this album, but even the past few, is that he and his band always figure out how to absolutely nail down a catchy chorus that will not leave your head and immediately make you want to sing along. “Rosé Romance” is another previously released single from early September. Much like “Red Roof Estates,” there is a constant funk-rock groove shuffling throughout the track, mostly thanks to that killer rhythm section driving the song along. The retro riffing and Meade’s wordplay also pull it together into a beast of a tune. After our favorite DJ’s exclusive interview with Meade, “Varsity Type” begins. This caught a ton of buzz when it was released on its own back in May, and I would dare to say it’s probably one of his most popular songs. Guitarist David Willie shows off that he’s more than an axeman (and apparently disc jockey) by displaying his skills on the trumpet at certain moments during this track, while Aaron Hernandez hits hard on the skins before each chorus and throughout.
With more wacky input from the DJs, Meade’s first single off this record kicks in. “Loser Mentality” is an anthemic song in his catalogue that includes some retro riffs and retrospective lyrics that will take you “back to the ‘90s,” as Meade says. “Take a Trip” is another track that focuses on nostalgia with some harder rockin’ guitar work playing off some mellow breaks during the verses. This song and the last work so well one after the other and could almost be a part one and two. Up next is “Dial Tone,” another filthy rocker that kicks the door in. Following that is “AbstractArt.JPG,” a beautifully played and produced track that brings us all back down to earth. In the second half of that song the acoustic guitar stops and the electricity kicks in, then it goes back to acoustic. It’s emotional, thoughtful and powerful. “Quicksand”
features sludgy Sabbath-esque riffs that’ll rip through you, then following that is “Darker Shade of Blue,” another live staple that we’ve been chomping at the bit to hear recorded in the studio.
Closing out the record are two epic tracks. “Forever Unfaithful” is musically gritty during the verse with some killer songwriting truly taking the spotlight here. “Rain Dancin’” is a fun one to end on. This sounds a lot like the songs on the last album, Black Sheep, and I’m here for it. The drum groove is exquisite and Meade’s delivery on the mic is fantastic.
Abstract Art of an Unstable Mind is a 10 out of 10 in my eyes. Within the first 24 hours of release, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive from what us fans have seen and it’s well deserved. This record was two years in the making, and all that time and effort Meade, the band, and producer put in paid off. There are zero skippable songs here and it needs to be listened to in order, track-by-track. This album can very well be a huge cornerstone in Meade’s discography when looked back on years from now, and we can only assume that he will keep it up without losing steam.
Be sure to stream, buy and listen to Abstract Art of an Unstable Mind.