". . . Twelve tracks steeped in the acoustic
soul of Big Star and sprinkled with the arena-rock
dust of Coldplay. Triumphant choruses like
"We can be anything" ("Been So Long") and
"Today will be the brightest day" ("Turn It
Around") continually burst out of melancholy
verses to reveal our narrators as true believers
in the power of the perfect rock song."
***3.5 Stars out of 5
"At creating a pop hit, these guys should be called
Los Angeles-based duo The Meadows don't just have
all the right influences (Pete Yorn, Teenage Fanclub
Ryan Adams and The Jayhawks) in check on their self-titled
debut, they've also got a stunning knack for songcraft.
Boasting alternating frontmen Todd Herfindal (ex-Blue
Sky Roadster and Single) and Kevin Houlihan (formerly
of The Fundamentals and Moontower), the pair join
forces to assert -- through this resourceful and
immediately charming 12-song cycle -- that they've
spent enough time in almost-famous bands. From the
heaven-sent, swooning of "Been So Long" to the tender,
reflective "Younger Yesterday", The Meadows' take
on guitar pop --bolstered by thumbs-up harmonies
and ace arrangements -- can be as dazzling "Turn
It Around" as it is exhilarating "Dreamer". 4.5
Stars out of 5 -Highly recommended.
REVIEWS FOR "FIRST NERVOUS BREAKDOWN"
Dr. Bristol's Prescription -- Top Albums of 2008
#11: First Nervous Breakdown...
"Cross pollinate the grandeur of Oasis arrangements and the beautiful delicacy of The Jayhawks, and your Petrie dish will likely have the DNA that generated the brilliance of First Nervous Breakdown. The Meadows are principally a two man band; Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan handle the songwriting, production, vocals and most of the guitar/bass duties. The result is a collection of infectious songs that will appeal to fans of The Byrds, Gin Blossoms, Big Star as well as the aforementioned cornerstone bands... hell, even early Eagles fans will lap this up.
"As impressed as I am with the vocals and the great musicianship on this album (there are several guests adding flavor), it's the songwriting that slays me; there are ten songs on this album and every one could be a single. How does a band - or in this case, two guys - hit the mother lode like this without the whole world catching on? I don't know either...but if you're reading this, that's one less person to notify."
The Big Take-over
"Oh, the harmonies, the sweet and rich harmonies. The Meadows came out of nowhere, at least for me-sorry to those who have been listening to them for a few years, please scoot over and make room on the bandwagon. Their sophomore release is a mature collection of pop songs written and performed by Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan with studio assistance from drummer Brian Young (Fountains Of Wayne), bassist Joe Skyward (Posies), and piano/organ player Brian Lapin (The Shore). There are jangly, upbeat numbers ("Wheels On The Road," "Where Do You Go?"), moody and melancholic numbers ("Paralyzed"), and others that have just enough of a sunny, rural feel ("Take Me Down," "Forever California") to toe the line of roots rock like Jayhawks and The Thorns."
Music Morsels Online
"L.A.'s Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan combine their deep pool of songwriting talents to create music that is inherently likable while still displaying their capabilities. Comparable maybe to an edgier Jayhawks, combining heartland flavor with just the right jolt of guitar power and intense rhythms. The lyrics have an honest intelligence, sung with a melodic but rustic fervor, graced with delectable harmonies. The songs will snare your attention in so many avenues that you have to think this group has the potential to break out of the tough L.A. music scene."
"Abetted by mixmaster Danny Saber plus musicians on loan from the Posies, Fountains of Wayne and Black Eyed Peas, the Meadows serve up a brace of jangly gems (the wistful "Knowing Don't Change A Thing"; the folk-rocking "Forever California") alongside brawny rockers (the anthemic "Give It Up," which clearly channels Oasis' "Live Forever"; the arena-ready Where Do You Go?"). Fascinatingly, both Herfindal and Houlihan, who share lead vocal duties, can sound at times like Liam Gallagher (and like both Gallagher brothers when they harmonize). In these ten terrific songs the Meadows just may—watch for it—live forever." --
Aiding & Abetting
"I listened to the first Meadows album the entire week I spent at the beach last summer. Kinda fitting, as those sunny songs with enveloping hooks are just the sort of thing to set the soul at ease. I had high expectations when I pulled this from the package. I wasn't sure I wanted to put it in the ol' discer for fear of disappointment. Courage, man! This set is more cohesive than the first. The songwriting is tighter, the playing a bit more effervescent and the overall joy ranking significantly higher. I don't know how Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan are able to craft so many exceptional rootsy pop-rock gems in so short a time, but I'm not going to spend too much energy worrying about it. Rather, I'm going to enjoy it. This album has the same "summer all year long" sound as the first--hence my beach experience. This is the rare album that ought to have massive appeal on commercial rock radio and still make the iconoclastic indie rocker smile slyly. I guess that's the real trick. If you look at the band's press page on its web site, there's a Rolling Stone review, and then there are plenty from the likes of A&A. We all agreed before; I imagine we'll all agree now. The Meadows are freaks. Just the kind of freaks we like to hear."
Rock De Siempre
"These two guys, Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan, The Meadows know how to make perfectly brilliant songs. Their songs have a unique mix of brit-pop and americana, all covered with a light layer of America (ventura highway). 'Give It Up' recalls Coldplay and 'Wheels On The Road' reminds me of Poco, Loggins & Messina, also Neil Young singing 'Cowgirl In The Sand.'"
Bill's Music Forum
"I must be in jangle-pop heaven. Fresh off a healthy dose of the stuff from Feel, here comes the latest release from The Meadows (Jan, 2008). Continuing in the same vein as their wonderful debut, this duo (Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan) cranks out 10 more nicely crafted pop rock tunes with a modest twist of alt country. Fine musicianship, excellent harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and sing-a-long hooks on every track. This is a perfect CD for a drive on a clear sunny day. Kind of like The Jayhawks on caffeine. Don't let the skulls on the CD cover fool you. Much like their name implies, this is pleasant pop rock through and through. Standouts for me include the lead off track "Knowing Don't Change A Thing", "Used To Say" and "Hard To Leave". My singular complaint...at just 10 songs, the Meadows leave you wanting more far too literally."
"The art of the album where a band actually sits around in room for months on end and spends time refining a record from riff to mix, to mastering, passes most bullshit bands these days. 'Oh we can fix it in protools' problem can not cure the ability and pain that goes into composing a good song. The mature layers that make up all the leaves in the field of dreams are not lost on The Meadows. These guys got song virtuosity down to a science like a drunk is good at getting his budweiser on. They weave and wave to all sorts of icons along the way including: Oasis, the best bubblegum fanclubs, and more obscure bands like the Railway Children. The sing-song alternative harmony parts one loves from bands like Tom Petty, Pete Yorn and tried and true brit pop like coldplay are here too. So here is this second release called First Nervous Breakdown from Mr. Kevin Houlihan and Todd Herfindal that if I had any grammy power this would be nominated. This is a Willbury-esque songwriting duo that is up there like all the best mentioned above."
Absolute Power Pop
"At the risk of sounding too technical, it can be said that some artists just have "it" - "it" being a certain sound, or a way of coming across that sounds natural, effortless, and authentic. The Meadows have "it", and their sophomore release First Nervous Breakdown is more of their radio-friendly pop/rock that you'd hear on the radio if it were friendly to independent pop/rock acts. Following up on 2005's excellent self-titled debut, this San Francisco band ups the ante here with 10 gems that will appeal across the pop/rock/country spectrum from fans of Oasis to The Jayhawks to The Gin Blossoms, etc. An instant top 10 of 2008 contender."
REVIEWS FOR THE MEADOWS' DEBUT CD
Aiding & Abetting
"Todd Herfindal and Kevin Houlihan have spent plenty
of time figuring out how to make good music. Folding
in rootsy instrumentation into a lush power-pop
anthem sound, the Meadows quickly create a comfortably
exciting atmosphere. These pieces sound like songs
you've been singing in your head since you were
ten, except that they're new. Oh, yeah, and they
placed one of the songs on this album ("Younger
Yesterday") in a very small movie (Little Manhattan).
Just to show that, indeed, they know what they're
doing. Hell, that's obvious about 20 seconds into
the disc. It sure is powerful, but it's not harsh
and shiny like you tend to get on a major label
release. The sound here is like your grandpa's leather
easy chair, strong but ever so comfy after fifty
years of use. The band's web site calls this the
most unanticipated album of the year. A joke, but
possibly true nonetheless. My guess is that the
next Meadows album will have a bit more buzz behind
it. Damn, this is good."
"This is the kind of album that seems to come out
of nowhere and make an indelible mark on one's mind.
The band has crafted an album of ear-catching guitar
pop that features plenty of memorable guitar lines
and smooth vocal harmonies. We've all heard this
kind of stuff before, but rarely is it pulled off
this well. Recalling the sound of groups like Toad
the Wet Sprocket and the Jayhawks, the songwriting
and song execution can also be compared to bands
like the Thorns. All of this culminates on the tracks
"Been So Long" and "Younger Yesterday." The arrangements
are excellent, the instrumentation polished and
every aspect of the record carefully set up. The
Meadows haven't just crafted a good album; they've
crafted a very good album that, quite frankly, I
find impossible to dislike in any way. Pick this
one up immediately. 4 Stars!"
"Let's talk about sweet sunshine here. . . .sweet sunshine that wakes you up on a cold winter Sunday morning; refreshing your senses and giving you the hope of a fantastic brand new day. The Meadows self-titled full length is that Sunday morning sun. With tracks like "Been So Long" and, well, practically every other tune on the disc, containing hooks Jacob Dylan would have given his privileged heritage for, The Meadows hints at the future greatness of this sweet pop duo." -Joseph Larnerd, WRFT
"The band's sound brings to mind many welcome images,
at times recalling Oasis anthems as sung by the
Thorns, while at others recalling the glory days
of the Jayhawks or the more subdued vibes of Mitch
Easter and Don Dixon."
"This duo magically turns out one catchy song after
the other. The Meadows can do one thing, and they
do that bloody well. The opening song Been So Long
straightaway is beautiful and in fact none of the
other 11 songs on the cd is any less. The other
attraction with the Meadows is that after a few
concentrated listening sessions you get the feeling
you've known the songs a lot longer than you actually
have." -Wiebren Rijkeboer
"Their warm, radio-ready sound combines the epic
sweep of The Verve with the rootsier qualities of
The Gin Blossoms and never sags nor sours." -Robinson
". . .Strong deeply melodic songs, simple yet moving,
not ruined in production, fresh yet atmospheric.
The Meadows relate tales of love and life. . .just
bloody superb emotionally charged song bombs . .
pulsating drums, bass, vocals, and a movement that
will never fade away, give up, or fail you. Brilliant,
brilliant, brilliant. . . just class. . . Applause
please. 5 Stars" -Marco Gandolfi