Summertime is here. Okay, meteorological summer doesn’t officially start until later this month. But don’t tell that to all of the music acts out there that have already hit the road and that are getting ready to hit the road once again. Whether one be a fan of pop, country, rock or even EDM, this time of year brings lots of options for audiences. While audiences do in fact have plenty of options when it comes to the annual live summer concert season, there are also just as many shows that audiences won’t get to see whether for reasons of finance or simply because of said acts’ tour schedules. So what is one to do when going to a given concert isn’t an option regardless of whether for financial reasons or that of an act’s scheduling? Answer: Go pick up the act’s latest live recording. There are just as many options for audiences when it comes to live recordings as there are actual live concerts. The options offered this year are just as many as in any year in recent history. So that leads back to the annual question of which show or shows to take in. This critic has another new choice for audiences right now. That choice is Zodiac’s new live digital release Road Tapes Volume I. This recording is one of 2015’s top new live audio-only recordings. In other words, if it were to be released on CD, it would be one of this critic’s top new live CD-specific recordings. As with any live recording, it proves this first and foremost in its set list. The set list, which clocks in at just under the ninety-minute mark, is a solid representation of the band’s current catalogue. The recording’s audio mix is just as solid as its set list. Not once do audiences have to adjust the volume on their MP3 player or radio (for those that burn the recording to CD) in the recording’s seventy-four minute run time. Last but hardly least noting is the band’s stage presence. The band doesn’t waste much time in between songs. Rather it spends most of its time and energy letting the music do the talking. Even doing so, the performance presented here exhibits a band that is currently at the top of its game. Audiences that download this recording will agree with that sentiment. They will also agree that taking into consideration that when coupled with its set list and audio mix, the band’s stage presence translated through its performance rounds out the reasons that Road Tapes Volume I has made this critic’s list of the year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings.
Zodiac’s new live recording Road Tapes Volume I is one of this year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings. The main way in which it shows itself deserving of a spot on that list is the recording’s set list. The ten song, seventy-four minute recording is a solid representation of the band’s current catalogue. All three of the band’s current albums are well represented here with Hiding Place being represented three times over with ‘Free,’ ‘Moonshine,’ and ‘Cortez The Killer.’ Sonic Child, the band’s most recent release is represented via ‘Swinging on the Run,’ ‘Holding On,’ ‘Rock Bottom Blues,’ and ‘A Penny and A Dead Horse.’ A Bit of Devil, the band’s 2012 Prosthetic Records debut release, is represented by ”Diamond Shoes,’ ‘Coming Home,’ and its title track. That is, again, a relatively healthy sampling of the band’s work. Such a healthy sampling of the band’s sound means that audiences that perhaps might not be so familiar with Zodiac’s body of work get a clear introduction to the band and its sound here. The sequencing of the set’s songs makes the songs even more important to the whole of the recording. From beginning to end, the band consistently balances its more up-tempo pieces expertly with its slower numbers. The end result is a near ninety-minute set that will keep audiences completely entertained from beginning to end with every listen. Being that it can so easily keep audiences engaged and that it represents the band’s body of work so well, Road Tapes Volume I’s set list shows within itself plenty of reason for audiences to download this recording regardless of their familiarity with Zodiac and its body of work. It’s just one reason that audiences will want to download it, too. The recording’s audio mix makes it just as enjoyable.
The work of those manning the audio boards for the concert presented in Road Tapes Volume I is just as notable as the set list that makes up the body of the recording. At no one point does any one member of the band overpower the other. This includes the balance of front man Nick van Delft’s vocal talents with those of his band mates and that of his band mates with one another. The audio levels are so well balanced that van Delft’s vocals cut through like a knife from the concert’s opener to its final number. That is a tribute to the person(s) charged with working the mics for the concert. Believe it or not there are still audio engineers out there that struggle with that balance to this day. That wasn’t the case with the work of this recording’s engineer(s). It’s just one part of the way that the audio mix presented in this recording makes it so enjoyable. The balance of the audio within the band’s performance to its rather short interludes is just as impressive. Even though audiences do find themselves having to adjust the levels in these moments, those adjustments are minute at best. Yet again that is a tribute to the work of the person(s) behind the boards for the recording. Speaking of the band’s interludes they are very short to say the least. This means again that any volume adjustments that audiences have to make are minor at worst. It also means that the band doesn’t waste much time between songs. Instead it lets the music do the talking and in turn present its stage presence. That presence is the final aspect of Road Tapes Volume I that makes it so enjoyable.
Zodiac’s stage presence is the final element of its new live recording that makes it such an enjoyable listen. The band’s stage presence is especially worth the note because it doesn’t waste any time either between songs or even within the course of its performance. Its stage presence is defined largely by the performance of its songs. The band’s performance is a direct throwback to the veteran jam bands that remain the foundation of the rock community to this day. That is exhibited by the extended jam session-esque moments. The band is fully focused throughout those moments and through the rest of each song, too. That focus leads to a performance by the band that in whole will keep listeners completely engaged from start to finish within each song and from song to song. Simply put, the fact that the band’s presence can be so well-defined by its performance rather than by other elements is a tribute to the band and its talent. It shows that a band doesn’t need all the extras that so many acts use to maintain a solid presence and in turn entertain audiences. All it needs is a love for its craft and for its fans, and of course a certain level of talent. Luckily both for Zodiac and its fans, Zodiac displays every one of those elements in this recording making for one more positive to a recording that is again easily deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings.
Zodiac’s new live recording Road Tapes Volume I is one of this year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings. It uses a handful of evidence to prove this. That includes its extensive set list, its solid audio mix and the band’s very stage presence. Each element shows on its own just what makes Road Tapes Volume I such a worthwhile listen regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Zodiac and its body of work. Collectively they show why this recording is a solid first effort from the band in regards to live recordings and why it is also one of this year’s nest new live audio-only/CD recordings. It can be downloaded now digitally via iTunes at https://itun.es/i6Lm3wg and via Amazon at http://amzn.com/B00WLEG7X2. It is also available in a very limited number of physical copies online via Zodiac’s online store at http://zodiacstore.bigcartel.com/. More information on this latest release from Zodiac is available online now along with the band’s latest tour updates and news at:
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