Album Review by Joseph Timmons: IndiePulse Music Magazine Journalist
The Recently Released 2 Album set Zig-Zags Live KXLU 89.9 is a great introduction to a very humble all American post punk / metal entourage, a group that has definitely did some time on the streets and in the clubs of LA and quite destine for the dingy limelight of the local brew houses near you, if not the grand stages.
This 2 album set is a complete live performance concert, with a very high quality recording and production, it is easy to see why this group has done so well, with music inspired by hard anthems and horror movies like The Fog, their music, reminiscent of the 80’s metal scene, and vocal stanzas that would make Joey Ramone proud as punch, the Zig-Zags have definitely created a foothold in the California Music Scene, as well as some international fame in the Indie Underground.
The Zig-Zags, a staple artist on the Nomad Eel Records label, has also recently released a 7” titled Sweet Times Volume 6, which is available now and is, in fact, a sweet release.
But, back to the Zig-Zags Live KXLU 89.9, this album, released October 18, 2017 is a fantastic two LP set with etching by Alex Matus and Mastered to vinyl by James Plotkin. Zig Zags performed live on KXLU 88.9 at Loyola Marymount University for Livation. We really have to give credit to Engineers Hilary Russel and Robert Douglas for the very clear and clean recording, unlike some “Live” albums, there is way too much grung / grind and noise, but not on this album. In addition to the music, there is the interview, where the band tells their story, which is in itself very interesting.
The Zig-Zags are Dane Arnold on Drums, Caleb Miller on Bass and sharing the vocals with Guitarist Jed Maheu. The Hard Rocking trio has an obvious chemistry that makes this a recording worth spending your beer money on. I could go through a track by track, blah blah blah review, but the entire album is hot, so don’t be cheap, buy it, love it and live it. My Favorite Tracks, to be honest, all or nothing, every track has it pat.
In commentary about the events leading up to this monumental record set, the band had this to say about the events leading up to and surrounding it.
“When you’re in a punk band sometimes it helps to get a side hustle going for gas and food and beer and what have ya. So basically we had to get moving. I’ve asked myself this too many times and it’s gotten me in trouble just as many, “What would Black Flag Do?”
Well we left ‘Frisco (The ones that are left hate that) at 11am and made it back to LA to grab some shit by about 5. That gave us roughly 24 hours of straight driving to make it to Austin for the showcase. The next 1400 or so miles are a bit of haze filled with hallucinations, lost wallets and other assorted waking nightmares. I awoke as the sun rose to see Dane who was driving (no license mind you) slapping himself in the face. I figured at that point we should pull over for a minute. Long story short we made it to the club 30 minutes before we were supposed to play. I don’t remember much from the rest of the week except the cops showed up a couple times and we broke some furniture. Ya know the usual.
Anyway as soon as we got back from Austin we headed down to KXLU to record this live set. There’s something special about the way we played this one and way it was recorded. Its got an old school lo-fi metal quality to the vocals that we have never been able to replicate on any other recordings. You can tell how loose we are after surviving Texas and it comes through in the performance and the interview. As we were leaving the campus at about 4 AM I backed into a “Stop” sign and knocked it over. We all started laughing as I gunned the van outta there. “The fucker came outta nowhere!”
A Bit about the band, taken from their public biography, a funny and forward read – dig it!
In the year 2014 in the ruins of the city once known as Los Angeles, three underworld dwellers with one job, one hot tub and one unkillable riff between them knew they had to make a ripping record—or die trying. This is their story.
Guitarist Jed, bassist Patrick, and drummer Bobby started in a room lit by a single green light, which changed them from humans to Zig Zags in the summer of 2010. Within the next four years, they’d record a song with Iggy Pop and an album with Ty Segall and go from playing house parties for pizza to staring off the stage at the Fillmore West. But back then that was still in the future.
Before them had come giants—bands like Kiss and Sabbath whose names were carved into desks in detention for decades. Before them had come mutants, heavy metal and punk bands like the Dictators and Pentagram that spun into the void of history after failed orbital rendezvous with the fame they’d deserved. And before them had come freaks, one-known-copy private press insanities like J.T. IV, White Boy and the Average Rat Band, the bands that happened when someone with a guitar thought FUCK IT loud enough for the tape to pick up. Those were visionaries, each of them, even if most of them paid—or never got paid—for it.
And Zig Zags had a vision, too. It was a dark and weird one, the kind of thing you see flickering on the monitor when your stolen spaceship wakes you up from cryosleep, or the kind of thing that flashes across the inside of your forehead when you wake up hungover from sleeping in your van. Theirs was the nightmare of the insane and the all-too-normal, the Bermuda Triangle between sci-fi and lo-fi and no-budget, the Twilight Zone twist ending where it turns out everyone ELSE was an alien the whole time.
When Cliff Burton wore that Misfits shirt—Zig Zags. When the Emergency Broadcast System interrupts that John Carpenter movie—Zig Zags. When a soggy pile of Thrasher mags and Jack Kirby comics spill out of a dumpster behind the Sunday school—Zig Zags. When the Ramones were scared of the basement and the Angry Samoans couldn’t find the right side of their mind—Zig Zags. When a kid breaks his elbow copying a WWF heel’s piledriver and starts laughing instead of crying—Zig Zags. And when the electricity goes off forever and torchlight reflects off chrome—Zig Zags.
All of this and more becomes real on the Zig Zags’ self-titled debut LP, recorded and produced by Ty Segall for In The Red. In 12 songs, they chainsaw through weirdo film and caveman rock and space noise and make smart sound so dumb it turns inside-out and becomes brilliant. Their very first 7” had a song scalled “Scavenger” cuz that’s what Zig Zags do—dig through garbage to find genius. In 2014, it turns out they did make their ripping record. But it’s up to you to figure out the twist ending.
Check out their Bandcamp page – http://zigzags.bandcamp.com