The Zoltars (Happenin Records)
Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Feb. 20, 2015
The Zoltars(Happenin Records)
Eschewing the sunless melancholy of 2013's outstanding Walking Through the Dark, garage psych eggheads the Zoltars mine carefree nuggets on their third LP. Blue-ribbon songwriter Jared Zoltar adopts the persona of a peaceful acid casualty on Sixties opener "We Missed Out," his plainspoken treble-talk penetrating three perfect chords and a primitive pounding that blurs lines between oldies-garage and post-punk. A vivid illustration of the protagonist's psyche, the singer starts out with sentimental contemplations of youth: teenage politics via "16-17-18 Living," the innocent escapism of "Movies," and first love with "Sincere." A cleverly sequenced plot twist indicates our narrator's gone off his meds on the chaos reveling "Out of My Head," fugitive lusting "Jailbreak," and the devil-on-your-shoulder advice of "Bad Man." Finale "Holiday" culminates in a delusional road-trip with a corpse. Psychologically, the Zoltars' third movement triumphs with strange lyrics that consistently serve a greater narrative. Musically, however, they remain anemic, delivering limp-wristed, one-string guitar leads over moth-eaten garage rhythms to sound like the whitest band on earth. Not that Warren Zevon doesn't still smile from above. After all, the Zoltars just expanded his "Excitable Boy" into an entire album.