German-American Surf Rock
Zulu Pearls’ Zach Van Hoozer may have moved from Virginia in the United States to Berlin in Germany in 2009, but on his sophomore album No Heroes No Honeymoons, he proves he hadn’t abandoned the sound of his homeland – in fact, in many respects he embraces it (and then some). While Van Hoozer might have been East Coast, he sounds remotely West Coast by putting a twangy surf guitar foremost in the mix for the 10 songs that are conjured up on this album. And that’s not when the sound is remotely ska-like, bringing forth more tropical sounds. Think Hawaii. Second track “Whatever You Want” even kind of sounds a bit like No Doubt, if No Doubt had a male lead singer. Still, Van Hoozer can get Southern with the best of them: “Magic Tricks” winds up sticking in your ear like it could have been lifted from the latest record from Nashville’s Jeff the Brotherhood, which is odd considering that No Heroes No Honeymoons predates the release of Hypnotic Nights by a year in Europe. Meanwhile, on another tip altogether, “Honeyland” is remarkably Pixies-like somewhere circa Bossanova.
All in all, No Heroes No Honeymoons is a commanding album of indie rock surf neo-would-be classics, hampered only by the fact that much of it sounds a little mid-tempo and alike – some more sonic variety would have spruced things up a bit. Still, this is a remarkably strong album that is actually better when you sit with it in front of you, letting it pour out of the speakers, than it does as background music. Overall, that just means that the subtle rewards of No Heroes No Honeymoons come out the more you pay attention to it, but there’s some great hooks and riffs to be had here, and it comes off as a record that has an unfortunate North American release date: this is not music for the crisp days of the fall, this is a record that commands and demands to be played in the sticky, sweet, sweaty days of the summertime. No Heroes No Honeymoons is one heck of a beach blanket bingo stroke of rock that rolls with the surf in 30 foot waves, and goes down like cold beer when the thermometer has been pushed as far as the mercury will go. In other words, it’s an enjoyable froth of modern day indie rock with a refreshing bit of twang.
// Notes from the Road
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