(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, April 25, 2011

CD review - Zula, Crescent Intake Session (2011)

Zula's new EP, Crescent Intake Session, is a nice bridge between a late '80s indie rock sound and a more modern indie psychedelic pop groove.

The opener, Gallop, quickly abandons its misleading electronic intro for a choppy indie rock groove. It's catchy, with ironic hipster vocals and a head nodding beat. Chop out the intro and it would be perfect. Repetitively poppy with a new wave edge, this was the sample that hooked me for the rest of the album.

I'm glad because the next track turned out to be my favorite. Shift (live version here) emphasizes the new wave feel, sounding a bit like Tom Verlaine's old band, Television. The steady beat and jangly, slightly angular guitar riff playing against the bassline took me back. The various musical parts form an uneasy alliance that meshes surprisingly well. The cool intensity builds, taking on a mild black light psychedelic groove. As the instrumental section near the end evolves, it sounded like old Radiohead.

Crescent Intake Session has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Dub style breaks near the end give Grind Is A Shuttle character. Psychedelic mechanics provide spark on Is This Flow or Flood or Squeeze? The Timbuk3 funk of You and I drives relentlessly. The drumming is standout on all of the tracks. Zula's psychedelic aspect is often secondary to the song, largely tied to how they saturate the sonic space with vocals or swells of harmonic tone.

The EP's continuity lies in its modern new wave groove, but the songs themselves each standalone. Zula has gotten my attention, I'd like to see what they do with a full length release. So far, I like their G&T bite.

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