Music

Saul Zonana: 42 Days

Matt Cibula

Summertime is upon us and that means everything is heating up... and Zonana's new album is hot...


Saul Zonana

42 Days

Label: 20 Music
US Release Date: 2005-04-19
UK Release Date: 2005-04-18
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Every summer, I fall in love with a power pop album. This is this year's model, a crunchy 43 minutes of wonder and wistfulness and wit. It ain't perfect, but that's what makes me love it even more.

Saul Zonana writes all the songs and sings all the songs and plays several instruments on all the songs and produces all the songs except the three songs produced by Adrian Belew. His songs are about things like silver jackets warding off evil and lost love and found love, but mostly about found love and lost love. Oh, and about being seriously depressed. There are a lot of songs about that, too.

The outlier here is the significant track, "Hey Now (Sideways Down)", a spoken-word piece about the pervasive effects of the Iraq war on people here in America, framed by blues-metal pop riffs. It's not as clever as it thinks it is, with Belew's production too cutesy and his solos curiously muted, emotionally. But I agree with the ideas that the war sucks and that military culture gets its hooks into people when they're just kids, so I like it anyway.

I won't say that Zonana is a lyrical genius, but he's a damned good songwriter who uses melancholy to fuel his happy songs and silliness to keep the sad ones from imploding. "What We Are", with its lyrics about being dumped because you've turned bitter and weird, has a bouncy Beatles feel; "Chasing It", which sounds like a 1980s John Waite semi-metal/semi-new-wave weeper, is about holding your head up. So go figure.

Zonana has a high keening voice which is perfect for singing pop tunes about depression; he's half Robin Zander and half Chris Bell, and it's clear that he's got Velvet Crush and Teenage Fanclub albums lying all over his apartment. He knows how to nail a hook, and he can get soulful when he wants to, but mostly he's just moving the song along to get it to its next section. This is a good strategy when the sections are as awesome as these are. "Heavy Metal Son" has "ooh ooh ooh" vocals layered all over the place, but it's a power ballad in everything but name.

I urge you to fall in love with a power pop album this summer. You could do a hell of a lot worse than 42 Days.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.