Real Numbers, The Johnny Ill Band, The Muslims and The Zoltars are reasons why I started writing about singles almost ten years ago. I would have never come across these guys if it weren’t for poking around looking for stuff to talk about for the next day’s post. Ever since Gang of Four’s Entertainment! I’ve been chasing that standard of primitive politics and, although not working in the same post punk sound, this group has been travelling the same road in contemporary ways. The Zoltars specifically have carved out a loose psych feel with creepy monotone style that says, “We are the ghosts of your future.”
"All My Friends" on the A-Side reminded me the reason I loved these guys was because of their repetitive jangly rhythms and anti melodic vocals from Jared. He’s got such a emotionless style that shouldn’t work, but tell that to Matt Lamkin of Soft Pack. These guys are also reminiscent of west coast’s Wounded Lion with less of a party boy, tongue in cheek sound. They are honestly stilted like the Feelies, with a jittery, manic sound, basic as anything with no tricks. They hit on a “Roadrunner” sound there's nothing really that different in the end except everything you can’t name. The way it feels so easy and familiar. I guess because it’s a revelation the way they put this together and seem to sway in this see saw rhythm forever. It’s a typed love letter to friends which gets emotional because they try to avoid that sentimentality.(?) "Heroin Thunder" gets strumming rhythms into a groove and plod along like boxcars, rocking back and forth. Then they hit this chorus of "Heroin Thunder" lyrically a great contradiction of course. They would put those two things together separated across stereo channels. The mix is crazy with left side guitar harmonies plinking out in a slightly higher range than the right which is all rhythm blasting away. The track is ominous without hinting at danger in the vocals.
I like people who don't like you / I like people who don’t like people / I like when they don’t take phone callsThe Zoltars don’t mince words or try anything fancy on those guitars, or hit that tambourine in anything but a stompy percussion. They don’t even push the volume or raise anything more than a whisper. Why? Because they don’t have anything to prove. They hold back and wait for those measured epic moments that they’ve they're earned.
B-Side’s "In the Basement" takes a slow strumming tact with huge garage echo on Jared, they raise the volume of these distortions for the end of a verse and go quiet again. The timid inherent quietness he delivers in a higher falsetto gives you a false sense of calm. A Beach Boys lull pop unless you start paying attention because they are always turning this stuff on its head. “In the Basement” could be just as easily about a kidnapping. There's lyrics about dying and getting old, so specific that it makes them great, their razor sharp point of view, like an updated, cold Nodzzz sound. Taking a practical look at pop and why it doesn't always have to be about the opposite sex and heartbreak. There's a lot of weird sides to human nature and The Zoltars are into the darker, stripped down ones.
Get this from CQ Records. Just saw they have a full length recorded coming soon.