The Zealots’ Debut LP Is A Hard “Rock”-ing Album

Courtesy: High Road Publicity

Early this past June, independent rock band The Zealots released its debut full-length studio recording Only Rocks Live Forever.  Self-produced by the Iowa-based quintet, this 10-song record is a good fit for any fans of Nothing More, Adelitas Way and Highly Suspect. From start to finish, it offers plenty of interest for said audiences both musically and lyrically.  This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in the record’s first full track, ‘Tangerine Dream.’  ‘Sweet Mississippi,’ the record’s closer is another song that supports that statement.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Medicine Man,’ which serves as the album’s midway point, is even more support to that statement.  It will also be discussed later.  Between the songs noted here and the others not directly discussed, the whole of Only Rocks Live Forever proves to be a record that shows The Zealots could have a very long life given the right and enough support.

The Zealots’ debut album Only Rocks Live Forever is a promising first effort from the independent rock band.  It is a record that with the right support and enough support, could help the band have a very long life.  This is evidenced early on in the album’s first full song, ‘Tangerine Dream.’  Musically speaking, the song is a solid hard rock piece that is just as radio ready as anything turned out by the bands already noted in this review.  Lyrically, it’s just as certain to garner just as much interest and attention.  As front man Micah Martin noted in an interview, the song’s lyrical concept centers on a familiar topic of relationships.

“’Tangerine Dreams’ is about the duality of relationships,” Martin said.  “They can be amazing, but there are burdens and baggage that comes along with it.”  That statement is illustrated in an interesting fashion as Martin sings, “I got the roof on fire/But at least I’m burning up/I’m on the telephone wire/Calling to calm you down/I wrote this down/To remind myself/That I was on the coast/The post-it note will never show the goal.”  That duality is evident here as on one end, one person is “living the life” while also having to deal with the baggage of someone having to be calmed down.  He goes on to illustrate that message even more in the chorus as he sings, “I will never know (we’ll never know)/Looking high/Looking low/Searching for my own gold.”  Again, this is someone trying to live his own life.  It is right in tune with the album’s overall theme of chasing one’s dream.  When this lyrical element is coupled with the song’s easily accessible musical arrangement, the two elements together they make it a clear example of why this record could help The Zealots have a very long life.  It is only one of the songs that supports that statement.  ‘Sweet Mississippi,’ the record’s closer also supports that statement.

‘Sweet Mississippi’ closes The Zealots’ album just as solidly as ‘Tangerine Dreams’ opens the album, musically speaking.  Looking at the song’s musical arrangement, it’s a good, steady hard rock opus that boasts just enough blues rock influence with its hard rock element to make it a piece that is sure to be just as infectious as any of the album’s other songs.  In regards to its lyrical content, it offers just as much interest for listeners.  Martin sings here, “Sweet Mississippi/How’s your water now/You take another body/And bury it deep down/Deep down/Digging around you…”  He goes on to sing, “Lost and never found/here we are….”  There’s even a note of “say it doesn’t hurt.”  Now not having a lyrics sheet to reference, it’s difficult to precisely define the lyrics, but from what can be deciphered, this song lyrically is certain to generate plenty of discussion.  On the one hand, one could argue that this is a literal statement, maybe talking about something very serious like a crime.  On another hand, it could also be argued that the statement of “say it doesn’t hurt” maybe is another reference to a relationship.  Regardless of the theme presented here, it can be said that the discussions certain to rise from these lyrics couple with the entertainment offered through the song’s musical arrangement to make the song in whole another strong addition to the band’s debut.  It’s just another song supporting that noted statement that this record could help The Zealots have a long life.  ‘Medicine Man’ is one more song that serves to support that statement.

Musically speaking, ‘Medicine Man’ is yet another of those songs that is so radio ready and accessible for any mainstream rock fans.  Musically, there are touches of Breaking Benjamin coupled with elements of Theory of a Deadman and other similar acts.  The balance of the dual guitar approach from Colton Menke and Ryan Housenga with Jeff White’s bass line adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Lyrically, the song offers just as much interest as it does musically as Martin seems to present a theme of unity.  That seeming theme comes through as he sings in the chorus,” Ear to ear and heart to heart/We’re not that far apart now.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Don’t kick me while I’m down/I feel that victory is near/But I don’t want to be the one to say it/Everyone has lost someone that they can count on, but they can’t take it back now/You gotta look out for number one.”  He goes from there to reprise the song’s chorus, singing again, “the fires are fleeting…”  Overall this just seems to be a positive song in regards to its lyrical theme.  When this is considered with the song’s overall musical arrangement, it presents itself as another of the album’s most notable songs.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the record’s songs, the album in whole proves to be a solid start for The Zealots and a record that could be the start of a long life for this band.

The Zealots’ debut album Only Rocks Live Forever is a strong, solid start for this Iowa-based quintet.  From start to end, it offers musical arrangements that are just as radio ready as anything churned out by the band’s more well-known mainstream counterparts.  Its lyrical themes are just as accessible and relatable to listeners as those musical arrangements.  That is proven clearly in the songs noted here.  When they are considered along with the album’s other entries, the album in whole proves to be an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums list.  It is available now.  More information on Only Rocks Live Forever is available online now along with all of The Zealots’ latest new and more at http://www.facebook.com/TheZealots.

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‘Give Up The Ghost’ Is A Solid Start For Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights

 

Courtesy: High Road Publicity

A little more than a month ago, a little band by the name of Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights released its debut EP Give Up The Ghost. The five track record is the type of presentation that shows how easily today’s unsigned band could be tomorrow’s next big mainstream hit.  It shows this through the diversity in its musical arrangements and the depth of its collective lyrical content.  From the infectious southern rock riffs and happy-go-lucky lyrics of ‘Hollywood’ to the Foo Fighters-esque arrangement and equally playful lyrics of ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ to the Jimmy Eat World style arrangement and thoughtful lyrics of ‘Burn It Down’ and beyond, this record is a solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It is a record that leaves listeners hoping this band won’t give up the ghost any time soon.

Paul Johnson & The About Last Night’s debut EP Give Up The Ghost is a strong start for the Mississippi-based unsigned rock outfit.  That is due to the solid mix of musical genres on which the band touches over the course of the record’s five-song, 18-minute run and its lyrical content.  The record’s penultimate song ‘Hollywood’ is just one of the songs included in this record that supports that statement.  The song’s guitar-driven musical arrangement is easily likened to arrangements composed by Black Stone Cherry, Buckcherry, The Black Crowes and other similar acts.  Band namesake and vocalist Paul Johnson even conjures thoughts of Buckcherry front man Josh Todd (at least in this critic’s ears) through his vocal delivery here.  When that is set alongside the amalgam of musical influences evident in the song’s arrangement, it makes the arrangement instantly infectious and certain to be a fan favorite.

The song’s musical arrangement is only one part of what makes it notable.  Its lyrical content, like its musical arrangement also conjures thoughts of the aforementioned acts and will put a smile on any listener’s face with its tribute to all of the things that make the south great.  That tribute is evident as Johnson sings, “You know I like to see my toes in the sand/You couldn’t drag me away from Dixieland/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood/Keep me in the south where the weather is good/Southern girls doin’ like they should/Don’t take me/Don’t take me to Hollywood.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I always see how they like to put us down/Don’t really care for the big town/Kinda got the feeling you won’t/Just take another breath/Don’t/Don’t take me to Hollywood.”  Plain and simple, this is a tribute to the band’s home state and region, being that the band is from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  That upbeat, playful tribute, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole one of the record’s best offerings if not its best.  Collectively, they make this song a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost such a standout offering and solid start from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It is only one of the songs that serves to support these statements.  ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another song that shows why this record stands out.

‘Hollywood’ with its simple title, lyrical content and musical approach is a clear example of what makes Give Up The Ghost a solid first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  It musical arrangement and lyrical alike are both so infectious thanks to their simplicity.  As impressive as it is, it is only one of the songs included in this record that makes the EP stand out.  ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ is another example of what makes this record worth hearing.  As with ‘Hollywood,’ that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  The alignment of the song’s guitar and keyboards couples with Johnson’s vocal delivery to instantly conjure thoughts of Foo Fighters.  Drummer Zach Lewis’ time keeping adds to that comparison even more.  From start to finish, the song’s arrangement easily keeps listeners engaged.  It is only one part of what makes the song so enjoyable.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

Unlike the lyrical theme presented in ‘Hollywood,’ this song’s lyrical theme clearly centers on a woman.  That is inferred easily in the song’s chorus in which Johnson and his band mates sing, “She’s in love/With a fast car/Burn out…./She’s a new American story…little worry.  Deciphering the full extent of the words is difficult without lyrics to which one can refer.  However, between this and other elements that can be deciphered, it becomes clear that Johnson and company are singing about a woman.  That is especially certified in the song’s final moments as the band sings in unison, “She keeps my fantasies alive”  All things considered it is clear that the band is paying tribute to a woman or a certain type of woman.  It stands completely apart from the theme of ‘Hollywood’ and the rest of the record’s songs, and is just as upbeat as those other themes.  Keeping that in mind, when this tribute is set alongside the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement, the pairing makes the song in whole stand solidly on its own merits; merits that make the song yet another example of what makes the EP such a surprise.  It is not the last of the songs that stands out on the record either.  ‘Burn It Down’ is notable, too.

‘Hollywood’ and ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ both show in their own way that Give Up The Ghost is one of this year’s top new EPs.  The songs’ musical arrangements and lyrical themes stand out from one another just as much as they do the record’s other featured songs.  As much as they stand out, they are not its only key compositions.  ‘Burn It Down’ is one more of the record’s key songs.  As with the previously discussed songs, that is due in part to the song’s arrangement.  This time around, listeners minds will go to Jimmy Eat World in listening to this arrangement right from the song’s outset.  This critic easily could be wrong, but the song’s lyrical content seems like a coming-of-age story of sorts.  That is inferred as Johnson sings in the song’s lead verse, “I dropped out of school to find my way/A dirty kid in football games/A loser on the street/Had a hunger for the underneath/A family divorced too much to bear/The misinformed will meet you there/Like the liars and the delphines/Is there nothing left for a kid to believe…the pain of knowing I may never feel better off than where I started.”  The story continues in the song’s second verse and ends with a mention of a “21-gun salute to disobey” in the finale.  The song’s chorus, in which the song’s subject seemingly looks back on the past in another way, adds even more depth to the song.  When this is all considered along with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song’s musical and lyrical content makes fully clear why this song stands out.  Collectively, the depth of that musical and lyrical content—and its distinct identity separate from ‘Hollywood,’ ‘American Story (Adrenaline)’ and the record’s other two songs—shows even more why the EP in whole stands out, too.  When it is joined with all of the EP’s other offerings, the record in whole proves, once more, why it is one of this year’s top new EPs, an equally solid start for Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights, and a record that will leave listeners hoping the band won’t “give up the ghost” anytime soon.

Give Up The Ghost is a surprisingly impressive first effort from Paul Johnson & The About Last Nights.  The record only spans five songs and 18-minutes, but in that run, the record exhibits great musical and lyrical diversity.  From start to finish, each song presents its own identity, separate from its counterparts.  From fun-loving to truly in-depth, the songs present a wide range of emotions in both music and lyrics.  All things considered, the record proves to be one of the year’s best new EPs, and gives hope that the band won’t “give up the ghost” any time soon.  More information on Give Up The Ghost is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.pauljohnsonmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pauljohnsonandtheaboutlastnights

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pauljohnsonsolo

 

 

 

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