After discovering Zuu recently, here is the official Exploding In Sound review of their album "Everywhere"...|
Every now and then a band comes out from seemingly nowhere to make a record that floors all who hear it. Creating a sound that is a hybrid of damn near everything I hold near and dear, Los Angeles’ Zuu have delivered the goods on their sophomore release “Everywhere”. Their sound is most certainly a familiar one, but putting a definitive comparison on them is impossible as they borrow and pull influence from many different styles to create their own breed of sound. Elements of The Stone Roses’ indie brit-pop, the stylish futuristic grooves of Autolux, the shimmering shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, and the 90’s space rock of Failure fuse together to form much of the sound on this record. Whether you call it dream-pop, space rock, post-psychedelic, the key to Zuu’s elegance is restraint, never allowing the experimentation to stand in the way of the songs. At the core of “Everywhere,” this is a powerful pop record with massive hooks and just the right amounts of attitude and fury.
“Wasted Today” is the perfect opening for this record, with Omar and Emvy’s swarming guitars and Tyler’s bass buzzing through the introduction, breaking into the danceable, moody, and energetic backdrop. The songs vocal melody is entrancing, immediately striking resemblance to The Stone Roses finest work. With a memorable hook and very simple structuring, Zuu begin the album off on strong footing for an alternative rock hit. “Water” takes their space rock craft into the next stratosphere with circling atmospherics and trippy melodic lines from the guitars. Omar’s vocals again show strong degrees of Brit-pop, but sound terrific over the complex rhythm from drummer Erik. This is shoegaze meets space rock, and the vocal lines aren’t lost in the noise, and the band is all the better for that. “Nothing Special,” contains a breathy attitude and flare with the bleak hook of “Tell me something I don’t already know, I’ve got nothing to show.” Zuu are creating 90s alternative rock for the new millennium, and with songwriting like this, radio should be warned.
“Sigh” slows things down a bit, turning down the wavering guitar distortion in favor of gorgeous cymbal and drum work. The vocals are doubled for effect as the track drifts along in hypnotic motion. Borrowing a page from Failure, “Retrograde” is an ambient segue for a seamless transition into “When I Die.” Stellar drumming, mixes with the gentle shoegaze coast, and haunting keys pierce through the fog for great added texture. “Resolve” finds bassist Tyler taking over vocal duties, for a higher pitched space rock sound with a sharper and more abrasive pop tone. This is another nice texture in their arsenal, as Omar is given a rest for one track, creating a new sound that is still very much one with the album.
The discordant opening notes of “Why Oh Why,” set the tone for the terrific experimental qualities of the song. Heavily processed vocals cruise over sharp hard hitting drums with incredible swagger and grace. As the chorus breaks, the vocals come clean while the guitars skid and trail in angular bursts. The band gets a thick muddy distortion brewing during the bridge, sharply contrasting with the final chorus. “Rain” contains a jangly upbeat vibe with more great Stone Roses influence, as these Los Angeles boys give the seminal Manchester band’s following something they can truly embrace. They might not list them as an influence, but whether they are or not, Zuu’s sound is a terrific update of what began back in ’88. The harmonies are tight, the melodies soar, and the music is memorable, this is what pop rock should sound like. “Amnesia,” is another phaser shifting segue, twinkling right into the delicate acoustic bass sound of “Wearing Nettles.” The slow and spacey atmosphere creeps around with finger picked fury and expertly doubled vocals lead into the singular voice asking “What if I can’t pull my weight, what if I disintegrate?” The outer space vibe is bleak and airy, but unquestionably beautiful. Guitar effects bounce around lost in endless non-gravity, building and fading throughout the mix.
“Only One,” delivers a rougher space rock punch, with great washes of distortion in the bridge reminding everyone that My Bloody Valentine are very much an influence in the collection. “Loaded” is a thick stomping rocker with true noise pop qualities, and perhaps my favorite song on the record. This track is the culminating masterpiece of the album, but a bit of the shame it’s buried all the way at the end. The vocals and guitars surge and soar with psychedelic energy and intense wall of sound melodies similar to Autolux. “The End” finishes things out with a minute long outro of white noise. Zuu have a promising career ahead of them, with a diverse sound that could very well have the radio world taking notice.
ZUU - Everywhere
The hypnotic, symmetrical pattern on the cover of Zuu’s new album, Everywhere, may lead new listeners to think the group plays some sort of heavy psychedelic noir. Actually, they do implement some colorful, spacey sounds, but the majority of the disc consists of refreshingly original and memorable hooks with reserved but encompassing production. Their sound is a nice mix of American and English rock, with the focus on winning melodies instead of obtrusive attitude.
Not much is publicized about who Zuu is, but the group proudly claims being influenced by Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Radiohead. While these bands are clearly interwoven into the sound, the vocals and melodies definitely call upon Damon Albarn and Blur, which is impressive considering that they are from California. Listeners won’t hear anything earth shattering with Everywhere, but they’ll be treated to a series of engaging songs, which is really all any band can hope to produce these days.
“Wasted Today,” like much of the album, has the distorted guitar noise of earlier Radiohead, and if Thom Yorke sang it, it’d fit fine on Pablo Honey. As an opener, it pretty direct and simple, but that’s all it needs to be to intrigue. Everywhere also features the mixture of punk gusto and developed writing that Television displayed on Marque Moon. “Water” is a much better song due to its more captivating structure, complete with an odd rhythm and British melodies. It’s sparser than the last track, but that makes room for the aforementioned elements to receive full attention. “Nothing Special” fades in with chords of loss over a trippy soundscape. Oddly, Zuu doesn’t go the route you might think, and dedicates the song to a rather plain verse and chorus. The title explains the sentiment.
Using a more interesting soundscape, “Sigh” also features Latin drums and a repetitious but successful bass line. It has an acoustic, earthy feel with nice harmonies and melodies, and is probably the best track so far. It’s kind of like a less progressive Pineapple Thief track. “Retrograde” is an intermission of backwards guitar and electronic loops, and it leads into “When I Die” well. The urgency of Smashing Pumpkins can be heard, but with better vocals (obviously). It has a similar psychedelic drum pattern to the Beatles’ revolutionary “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The chorus is leisurely but lush.
Perfect for driving on a sunny summer day, “Resolve” is a very 60s pop track with a nice tremolo effect and Californian optimism. It’s a standout piece. “Why Oh Why” has a faster tempo and scaled down arrangement, and the occasional drop out to silence adds some momentum. “Rain” also has nice harmonies which make it fit in with the rest of Everywhere, but unfortunately there isn’t anything else noteworthy about it. “Amnesia,” the second interlude, uses a slide guitar with a cosmic echo effect over acoustic chords. “Weaning Nettles” continues these effects over nostalgic finger picking. The antagonistic, eerie melody is extremely evocative (like a ghost haunting its murderer), and this combination results in what’s probably the most original and mesmerizing track on here.
“Only One” tones down the breathlessness of the vocals to let the popish rock music cover our ears like a warm blanket. “Loaded” is another clear-cut rocker without any standout attributes (which isn’t to say it’s bad; it just won’t “wow” you in any department). The track fades into the minute long musical equivalent of white noise, appropriately titled “The End.” It loops a whirlwind sound as ominous feedback flies, ending Everywhere on an intentionally alienated note, as if we’re now on Mars, separated forever from humanity.
Zuu are a promising new band, as most of their new LP is very good. Even the less than impressive moments are better written and performed than many of today’s most popular and undeservedly wealthy acts. They successfully capture the best aspects of alternative rock from both sides of the Atlantic, and have justifiably titled the album noting its potential for acclaim. With time and growth, their next release will be even better.
ZUU LAY THE FUZZ TO MY BRAIN!!!
The band ZUU hail from, in their words, “hovering over the valley of California.” This seems fitting because at times the band seems to possess other-worldly talent and potential. Unfortunately, these guys probably aren't on too many people's radar, thanks in part to the fact that their last offering came out in 2005. I absolutely adored their self-titled release at the time, but how would they stand up nearly 4 years later?
Well, almost unexpectedly, their overdue LP showed up in my mailbox, entitled Everywhere. After giving it a few spins, this title is so appropriate. After throwing the album on your surround sound or listening through headphones, it feels like it's coming at you from all sides. It's a wall to wall epic of fuzz and distortion and at times even feels a bit shoe-gaze. Regardless of the label you give it, it has the ability to knock you off your feet with it's tremendous texture and layers. Currently, the band is unsigned and seems to have little fanfare surrounding the release of this gem.
Fans of Autolux, The Raveonettes, Silversun Pickups, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and even Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins will definitely recognize and appreciate this album. Everywhere really is an assaultt on your aural senses and anyone pining for the mythical follow-up to Loveless or the indefinitely delayed sophomore album from Autolux will surely cream their pants listening to Zuu's magical juxtaposition.