Holy shit! Zombie Garden Club? I don't know what I was expecting but this is way beyond what the name leads me to believe. This is crunch. This is part Legendary Shack Shakers and early Them without the harmonica and part sixties garage--- the part featuring a driving beat and cheesy Farfisa organ. But mostly what this is is heavily-reverbed vocal laid over some of the best guttural guitar I have heard in some time. Too Slim pulls it off when he wants to, prodding The Tail Draggers God knows where with that almost evil guitar sound. Th' Legendary Shack Shakers nailed it when David Lee was twangin' the strings around, say, Pandelirium time. Joe Bonamassa and Stevie Ray Vaughan occasionally strayed into the mania and I am sure there were others. But when I put this puppy into the player and heard a riff straight out of The Music Machine's Talk Talk on Track One (Call It Love), all comparisons vanished.
Here's the thing. I could compare every song on this album to something, if I really wanted to. The tunes are so good and so well put together, I just don't want to. I just want to listen. Even to the two oddballs on this rockin' album--- Diamond Daze, a track as much jazz-based as it is rock, and Calling Andromeda, straight out of the Mike & The Mechanics or Barclay James Harvest playbooks.
I have three pages of scribbled notes which sounded like something when I wrote them but now seem disjointed and vague. Call It Love--- Music Machine Talk Talk riff beneath sixties Brit Rock vocals. Judgement Blues--- Brash, bluesy guttural guitar with Swamp Rock vocals, a more controlled Legendary Shack Shakers. One Step, Two Steps, Three Steps Gone--- Sixties-sounding rocker complete with very prominent Farfisa organ. Fuzzface--- Groove heavy with fuzzed-out overamped guitar. They give you an idea, but I swear you have to hear this to get it.
I know this is a band, but not on the record. One Johnny Douglas put this together all by his lonesome but it sure as hell sounds like a band. The drive is there. The riffs are there. The sound is there. And more importantly (well, equally as important), the songs are there. Douglas has a touch when it comes to capturing the various areas of influence and it makes me laugh, he's so good at it. I love stuff like this.
Every track a gem, too. Fourteen songs, all dipped in roots--- my roots, evidently, because I have not been able to set this aside since receiving it. I feel like saying, though I am too close to the music to know if it would ring true or not, that this is one of the best garage roots albums I have ever heard, Makes me want to dance.
And already in the running for my pick for Top Album of the Year.
(Frank Gutch Jr. writes and has written for numerous magazines and websites, presently including this blog, his own website and the prestigious Don't Believe A Word I Say site put together by musician and music pundit Bob Segarini, out of Toronto. He specializes in the Indies, having fought hand-to-hand combat with major record labels for decades (talk about zombies). He believes music should be the core of the music business, though business it mostly be, and denies the accepted reality in the stead of the artistic one. Seldom does he receive pay for articles and/or reviews and believes that there is no place for negatives in a world in which one cannot keep up with the positives. He is, in a sense, a lost soul in a sea of music, drowning, but drowning gratefully.)