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ZASZ is a young and upcoming band from the state of Pennsylvania in the USA that at the time of the recording of their debut album still had not settled as a group, with the first two musicians listed as members, and the others as "Featuring" in the credits. In other words, this is an outfit still in its formative stage, and one we’ll hear more from if only they manage to stabilize."Wakeup Dot Feelsomething" was released late in 2007, available as an old-fashioned CD as well as in digital files format from a number of resellers. Although young, these guys obviously are smart enough to know that the physical medium is far from dead, that there are still quite a few people out there who like the sense of ownership you get when buying a CD. And this is a title which hopefully will find its way into many collections in physical as well as digital shape. Not that the music here is that revolutionary or groundbreaking though. The band lists a plethora of influences, ranging from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to Radiohead, The Mars Volta and Black Sabbath, on their MySpace page. What sets this band slightly apart, though, is that they try their best to incorporate all their influences into each and every song. This results in compositions with lots of twists and turns in style, atmosphere and mood. Conventional song structures are something you'll have to listen intently to find, if you find them at all. The songs are forever moving, changing and wandering. Certain parts and themes are repeated in more or less altered forms throughout each song, and some constants see to it that the tunes have some stability, but change and evolution dominate. I would guess that The Mars Volta is a major influence when it comes to song structure here, although this is based on description mostly. Surprisingly, the piano is a highly central instrument in most tunes, and will often be the main melody provider instead of underscoring guitars. The guitars and bass are very much present, though: the former with harmonic melodies, drawn out chords and slick and at times staccato riff structures - and often with a distinct psychedelic tinge to the sound. The latter is a tad more subservient in the soundscapes here, more often giving the song drive and groove rather than providing dominating melodic patterns. This album is high on melody, which may be a surprise. Despite all the changes occurring, the melody is central most times from start to finish. From REM influenced passages to ska, jazz, grunge and alternative, a melody is always present. Fans and followers of bands trying to be creative and experimental while still producing accessible and melodic material might want to check out these guys further. Personally, I'd guess that many people into The Mars Volta as well as bands like Porcupine Tree might find this release interesting. This is not a CD that will change the world in any way, but it is a solid and strong release of modern, complex progressive rock.
OMB: July 5, 2008
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