Monday, February 7, 2011
The Zoltars on Sundae Records
The Zoltars are a 2 piece from Austin, TX and have that relaxed west coast minimal sound of Wounded Lion, or Brooklyns own junk punkers, German Measles or the slack rock Jacuzzi Boys from the bottom coast...basically, this minimal garage sound isn't tied to any sort of geography, they happen to be from Austin, but this sound is coming from all sides lately.
In "Party at the Batcave", they take something so pop culturally forbidden as the Batman franchise and turn it into a funny, but not gimmicky song. Like Wounded Lion got away with songs about Degobah, it's ridiculous on paper, but the fact they even tried to enter such geek territory is totally punk rock. Or like Nodzzz, their naif songs about karaoke, their naive changes...the amount of heart it takes to get you to listen for more than one hit is amazing.
They use a thumping tom rhythm with just a little distortion on the guitar, with that sloppy, we're having too much fun delivery. But A duo is forced to be minimal by design, then they pick these idiosyncratic topics so obscure it's almost an inside joke.
"Voodoo" then takes this in a surf, monotone direction...with all the art brut of the Fall. It's a dirty garage minimal scuzzy sound. Hardly sung vocals, like pulling teeth, it sounds like it takes a great effort to get these guys together and record to tape, but a great example of creating something compelling out of 2 notes; their back and forth, high low high low, the vocals even follow that up and down melody on B-Sides, "Misanthrope".
Once we finally get to Homicide, they take this primal, raw sound and translate it into the content as well. It's the basic info, she hates this dude, wants to kill him....and well I won't ruin the end.
Here's another simple guitar melody with minimal drums. The Zoltars are constantly having to fight against the minimalism. To work with next to nothing. You have to combine Prinzhorn Dance School with No Age to get this kind of post punk and their satisfying quiet loud punch.
There's nothing better than a primal duo sound. They wear those influence on their sleeve but then their talent makes something simple the best.
Just like that whole movement in food, on Top Chef or whatever. Get back to simplicity. Your grandma made the best cookies because it was the basic ingredients done classically.. the way it's been done forever.
The Zoltars have a simple recipe, guitars+drums, a little bit of harmony with a dash of the everyday mundane, and then punk the whole thing out with some nihilism. The humor will draw you in and then the garage stomp keeps you listening.
They have this scribble high school notebook sleeve, from Booneboone.com and like the Intelligence, Mess Folk or Fresh and Onlys it's a perfect symbol of their formative years single, it's freshman class where you haven't learned all the history that's going to teach you what exactly not to do anyway.
In an art class once there was this guy I was so jealous of because he would just come up with this complete bat shit crazy stuff. Scripts that would be impossible to shoot, paintings that you couldn't paint - I wanted to think like that. To be so completely separated from reality, that only the idea mattered. The Zoltars actually pull this off musically without even breaking a sweat, they've come up with an EP of four songs that stand alongside Wounded Lion or German Measles. Damn them, this is good.
I know 5 years from now I'll still be listening to NoDzzz and singing along like a maniac and it will lead me again to this single. I can hear they have to be genuinely nice guys even with the songs about Homicide they sound like they just picked up their instruments in the best way. They haven't learned anything about bad music yet. If you can catch a band at this point, it's pure gold. This EP is The Zoltars "I don't want to smoke marijuana"...the start of something good.
Get this one from Sundae Records...only 5 bucks!