Jeff Moody

Dark And Light Matters

Highlighted by the skronky guitar and possessed wailing of Vince Presley, Zebras self-titled elpee makes the apocalypse sound fun.

By - Aug 18th, 2012 04:00 am

On Milwaukee’s East Side, there is a duplex directly across the street from a Chinese restaurant and just south of a jazz bar. This house would be unremarkable if it weren’t for the building’s remarkable inhabitants and their friends. The house was (was, because the remarkable inhabitants no longer live there) quite affectionately known as The Church Of Murray, and last summer I got lucky and was invited to a basement show there. Zebras was one of the bands playing (actually, they were the first to play, followed by Latest Flame Records rock monsters Police Teeth and Waxeater) and they set the tone for the rest of the night with a wild set, highlighted by the skronky guitar and possessed wailing of lead Zebra Vince Presley.

So of course I was interested to hear the new self-titled Zebras elpee and of course I made sure that I could get my hands on a copy it and get my ears all over it and hey… IT’S A PRETTY WEIRD RECORD. If you just picked it up at, y’know, the Fye store at the mall and read the song titles aloud (“Queeny Gloom Doom,” “A Turd By Any Other Name,” “Black Cancer”…) you’d be escorted out of the store and, most likely, off the mall property because those titles are disturbing to the tender young minds of today’s youth, i.e., SHOPPERS.

So yeah, the track titles are 90 percent creepy and Mr. Presley sings/screams in a way that more closely resembles a meat-fed Golem dragging himself around with his foot caught in a bear trap than the average rock (and roll) singer. There’s a lot here about death, delinquency and decline, but Zebras make the apocalypse sound kinda fun. “Weiner Kids” is insane asylum polka. “Field/Noise” has a diabolically militaristic guitar structure and sounds like some dystopian future war march. Electronic gurgles and squawks abound throughout the entire elpee, taking the edge off of the dire subject. Important, because, as zebras are black and white equids thanks to their DNA, Zebras are reaction diffusion rockers by choice, offering listeners a few light patterns in the depths of their pitch black subject matter.

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