Since 1996 and bursting out from the Orange County punk explosion Californian based Zebrahead have brought their own sound that inspires and pleasures a mass of eager fans across seven albums, festivals and tours. Their pop punk /rapcore stands in its own spot in the genre, many bands have tried but few can rival the Zebrahead skill of bringing infectious pop-punk riffs, enormous anthemic gang choruses, and trademark dual vocal leads. The bands eighth album Get Nice! is released August 27th and across its fourteen tracks delivers more of the glorious Zebrahead sound. Boundaries are left intact and new doors remain shut from their music but as always is the case with their releases, there is a small evolution and more importantly the release is flowing with contagious and vibrant songs.
Produced by Jason Freese (Jewel, Death by Stereo and plays with veteran outfit Green Day) and mixed by Andy Carpenter (Dwarves)Get Nice! bulges with substantial hi-energy whilst bound in compulsive riffs, as well as essential anthemic chants and choruses that simple are irresistible.
Get Nice! slams out the gate with opening track ‘Blackout’, it leaps eagerly into the ear without reservation though that is generally the norm for their songs. One does know what to expect with the band and they always deliver but in the best and most pleasing way and this song is no exemption. Here and throughout the album Ben Osmundson delivers bass lines that are darkly compulsive and distinct whilst the vocals of Ali Tabatabaee dual led and complimented by Matty Lewis, are impossible to ignore and impossible to resist joining in with during the anthem lined choruses.
The next trio of tracks of ‘Nothing To Lose’, ‘She Don’t Wanna Rock’, and the first single from the album ‘Ricky Bobby’ all continue the fine engaging and bouncing pop punk sound. The third of the tracks is a stirring melodic crescendo of crashing and striking guitars surrounded by excellent gang vocal harmonies and in the music, all combining to feeds the senses. The middle track of the three is certainly not the most original or inventive Zebrahead song ever but once you slip into its siren like allure it is one of the most addictive.
Zebrahead as mentioned before do have their own sound that stands out from nearly all other contemporaries current and past though one can find flavours that other bands have adopted or grown up with from Zebrahead. Most are mere whispers but the one band 90’s originating punk band Shelter do hold a very obvious similarity on some tracks, like again the single, the excellent ‘The Joke’s On You’, and the album’s best track and ‘Demon Days’ which closes Get Nice! Both bands share the ability to create distinct glorious hooks that makes every song eager to please the listener though the Hare Krishna hardcore punks do also bring a harder sound which Zebrahead have never really found. The guitars of Lewis and Greg Bergdorf all over the album are impressive and creative without ever taking over , knowing their place in the sachem of what is the band’s sound. The drums of Ed Udhus are forceful without being demanding and help lift the tracks to their envisaged destination perfectly, it is doubtful there are many bands with as tight and compact a unit sound wise as Zebrahead.
Get Nice! is truly a great album, yes there are a couple of moments where as on the title track and ‘I’m Definitely Gonna Miss You’ it feels like one is listening to just another obvious Zebrahead song but these are soon forgotten with illuminating parts like the ELO like opening to ‘This Is Gonna Hurt You Way More Than It`s Gonna Hurt Me’ and the ska punk of ‘Nudist Priest’ not forgetting the great humour that permeates throughout the release. Zebrahead shows that pop punk can be addictive, hard, and vital but also that it does not have to break down doors or walls, it just needs to entertain, Zebrahead are the masters at that.