Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Zandosis: Improvised Explosive Devices

There’s nothing subtle about Zandosis’ latest CD, George W. Bush Go Straight to Fucking Hell, but in the age of terror, improvised explosive devices and Fox News, subtlety is out-of-fashion. Made up of Marshall Avett (saxophone/guitar), Tony Gordon (bass) and Stewart Voegtlin (percussions), the Atlanta noise trio recorded GWBGSTFH in the midst of the 2004 election cycle. Each song reads like blood-stained diary entries from a disgruntled political junky.

Grotesque song titles say it all: “Dick Cheney Bleeding to Death on the Streets of Detroit.” “John Ashcroft Flattened Under the Weight of a 5,200 lb. Replica of the Ten Commandments.” “Bill Frist Kept Alive In A Persistent Vegetative State and Broadcast 24 Hrs. A Day On His Own Cable News Network.”

Each number is a knee-jerk reaction to the right wing shenanigans playing out under the shadow of the Bush Whitehouse. “When I wrote the song tittles I was thinking about who was making news and toward whom I was feeling a little anger,” Avett says.

Each song is a blast of angst and sheer release channeled through avenues of improvisation and hardcore music. Avett’s voice rings out like a game show host, rattling off titles before a wall of frenzied noise fires like blasts from a machine gun. When the dust settles, 34 songs unfold in a whirlwind that clocks in around 23 minutes, followed by an epic tribute to jazz drummer Elvin Jones.

At the root GWBGSTFH is a hardcore record in the Dead Kennedy’s, DOA tradition of politically minded, hardcore humor. “I don’t know if that come across when we play these songs, because they tend to be bursts of noise,” Avett says. “But somewhere in there is a hardcore attitude waiting to escape from the skulls of a noise band.”

--Chad Radford

Nina Nastasia

On Leaving
Fat Cat Records

Nina Nastasia doesn’t throw any surprise punches with On Leaving, but hits hard with stark emotions and a powerfully understated voice. As a songwriter, she crafts epic melancholy that flows with effortless beauty, underscored by the warm reverberations of the wood of her guitar in “One Old Woman” or the ivory keys in “Brad Haunts A Party.” And when she offers “we don’t get around like we used to do,” it’s hard not to see her as a black-clad kid sister to Hank Williams.

“Dumb I Am” is a self-effacing folk ballad that’s driven by womanly insecurities. But rather than let her fears reduce her to tears, Nastasia finds strength in summoning her troubles and letting them fly in songs of hard loving and hard heartbreak.

--Chad Radford