Ha ha! They misspelled "gorilla," the stupid assholes!! HA heh!!!HEEEEEEEEEEE!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Zen Guerrilla
*Invisible "Liftee" Pad EP
*Gap-Tooth Clown EP
*Positronic Raygun
*Trance States In Tongues
*The Seeker 7"
*Mob Rules 7"
*Shadows On The Sun
*Plasmic Tears and the Invisible City EP

I don't know. Some band Mattro sent me all the albums of. Started psychedelic, turned into punk-blues and wound up as bland Robert Cray-style blues. And their name is Zen Arcade by Husker Du.

Zen Guerrilla - Compulsiv 1992.
Rating = 6

Several years ago, the Butthole Surfers got into this "jam" thing. Right around probably after Locust Abortion Technician but before Widowermaker, so in and around the period that Hairway To Steven and Live Bootleg came out. These jams didn't really go anywhere, but more just set a mood. Featuring Gibby's impossible-to-make-out echoing, delayed, speed- manipulated vocals buried under echoed electric guitar wah blues-psych-space-rock wankilage, steady 4-note bass riffalage and midtempo drum blandilege, the songs generally sucked my ball sacrilege. You can find them on compilations and one-offs here and there - I found dozens of them in college. Too many. Too many to name even one!

Basically this is what Zen Guerrilla's self-titled eponymous album they named after themselves in tribute to Zen Guerrilla sounds like. There is a slightly greater effort to play an actual melody, which makes for some sugary pop moments buried under about fifty billion layers of swirling noise, but essentially the songs are just endless pot- smoking jams that they stopped early - and recorded very cheaply. It sounds like a DEMO! Like if a band played their EMO so poorly, their music teacher gave them a D! THAT"s what faaaaewlnn.

Psuedo-Hendrix-style-loud-hippies is all they were right here. Zen cuz it's hippy, guerrilla cuz it's loud. Compulsive cuz that's who signed em.

1992 cuz that's when it was released.

Any other questions?

No no, not about Gene Rayburn. I am SICK and FUCKING TIRED of ALWAYS having to ANSWER QUESTIONS about GENE FUCKING rayBURN! Jesus, you dig up a guy's body and mount it on your wall -then suddenly EVERYBODY'S got a question!

Reader Comments

It seems somebody (you) doesn't fancy butthole jamming.

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Invisible "Liftee" Pad EP - Alternative Tentacles 1996.
Rating = 4

To be perfectly honest, I don't know whether this one or Gap-Tooth Clown came first. I'm just putting this one first under the assumption that bands get BETTER as they progress, and not worse. Not that this is even a BAD album - it just doesn't have much to offer. They've changed their sound drastically, going from loose and pot-smoking to tight, heavy blues grunge rock. The singer isn't buried anymore, although he still sounds like he's singing through a megaphone - but now he's a bellowing blues belter, and not only that - now he's black! Nobody ever told me he was black! Had I known that was the case, I wouldn't have called him a "Ku Klux Klan member" in that letter I wrote to Rolling Stone!

This EP only features six tracks, and none of them are particularly groundbreaking. They create a happy, jivey aura of excitement and high energy boogaloo-itude, but these riffs are so tired, there's just not much for the LISTENER to be stimulated by (aside from the parade of naked ladies that dance out of the record sleeve every time I take crystal meth). I'm fine with mediocrity - hell, I'm mediocre at everything I've ever done, smelled or considered - but when your art sinks past even THAT level ("Tin Can" is boring, worthless, actual BLUES music with a harmonica and everything and "Chicken Scratch" is the Dead Kennedys' "Stealing Peoples' Mail" with different lyrics - AND THAT'S A FULL THIRD OF THE RECORD RIGHT THERE!!!), I have to take off my socks and make a stink about it.

The other four songs - actually THREE songs since "Jig A Boo" is just a minute and a half of an echoing guitar noise and a bass line - are goofy goodtime fun blues rock played with metallic distortion and a lot more toughness, heaviness and speed than you might have heard in the works of traditional old-timey Delta Bluesmen like The Fabulous Thunderbirds. It's a style that COULD work, and they actually do make it work on occasion, when they happen across a riff that's catchy enough to wrap your arm around ("Wee Wee Hours" is the only blockbuster on this particular record). But when they don't, it just sounds like a less noisy Tragic Mulatto with a Gary Floyd-wanna-be bellowing forth on top. And I need that like I need a hole in my ass. In other words, NOT AT ALL!

Hell, I don't care if it all piles up and comes pouring out of my mouth in the middle of church. I DON'T NEED IT! Don't want it. CAN'T HAVE IT! Not gonna stand it.

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Gap-Tooth Clown EP - Alternative Tentacles 1996.
Rating = 7

I've been getting so many headaches lately. And backaches. Neckaches. Awful things. And today everybody on the message board I'm known to frequent was debating ABORTION. It's amazing what a touchy subject that is. Everybody's got an opinion about it, even though very, very few of us will ever actually be affected. I pose this question to you, and you THINK about it before you answer: WHY DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT ABORTION? WHY IS IT EVEN AN ISSUE? This didn't occur to me until mid-way through the conversation, of course, but it occurs to me now. First of all, you are most likely some GUY who doesn't even KNOW anybody who's ever had an abortion. How does the legality or morality of abortion affect YOU? Better yet, how does it affect ANYBODY? Women are murdering their unborn children. So what? Are these babies going to be MISSED by ANYBODY? Don't we have enough of an overpopulation problem without more of the little fuckers popping out to rob my apartment? Is the little creature going to miss LIFE? Of course not - it can go back to doing what it was doing, just relaxing in the ether. It's NOT like murder because there's no loss to ANYBODY of ANYTHING. If you kill a baby before its birthday, it hasn't been born and is not a baby. Second of all, let's say abortion is made ILLEGAL because of stupid Christians or whatever - okay, so you get pregnant. BIG FUCKING DEAL. Have the baby - if you can afford it and decide you want it, keep it. If you don't want it, turn it in to an adoption agency and say, "Hey, I didn't make abortion illegal - this is YOUR problem now." Anybody who has never had to deal with an abortion yet has an opinion on the matter is a meddling asshole going out of his way to put other LIVING PEOPLE in misery. And that is a BAD person who would do that. If you actually care about the sanctity of life as much as you act like you do, go out and adopt some LIVING unwanted kids. Help the LIVING in pain - they are a bit more important than the unborn. Personally I feel a HELL of a lot worse about all the poor living dogs and cats that are euthanized every year than I do about aborted babies. It's not THEIR fault they were born. They're cute and would make great companions. But we kill them. Because we're at the top of the food chain and we know what's right. I'd much rather see a living dog saved than an unwanted baby saved, so it can live a miserable, abused existence. But enough about this issue, because it DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER. YOU were born, YOU will die. Whether anybody else is born doesn't affect you in any way, nor should it - unless it is YOUR CHILD. Any person with the gall to say to another person, "You have to have that baby" should be FORCED to adopt the baby and raise it. Once it pops out, I agree that it's human and deserves its right to life, liberty and happiness. I do agree with that. Every living, post-born creature deserves the right to a happy life as long as they don't try to make other living, post-born creatures unhappy (LIKE BY TRYING TO MAKE THEM HAVE BABIES THAT NOBODY WANTS - HINT HINT HINT)

Regarding the CD, it's more of the same style, but with slightly more creative riffs. And a real-life BLOOZE PUNKER! Let me get right to the point of why these guys don't move me - it's their overreliance on electric blues clich‚s. I know they play louder, harder and faster, but if the riffs are ones I've already heard by other blues musicians 50 billion times, I just can't get too excited. I DO think that anybody who wants to hear what really energetic, pounding BLUES ROCK sounds like should buy this EP, because it's the best thing these guys have released and if you like this style, you'll like the albums surrounding it as well. But for me personally, I can only deal with generic riffs if they're played really superfast, like Zeke does. Zeke's songs are inexcusably simplistic and hackneyed, but they're fast as shit, and the guy has a great punk voice! Zen Guerrilla are terrific when they pool together their resources AND develop an interesting new riff (like "Auto Pilot" or the nevertheless WAY-too-long "Unusual" on here), but most of the time I swear it's like they say to themselves, "Let's play a straightforward blues-influenced hard rock riff, but like FASTER and LOUDER and TOUGHER than everybody else has played it! Now see if I'd never heard ANY blues rock before, these guys would blow me away with their tough, swingin' swagger and pounding rigid volume. But as it is, I hear something like "Lipstick" and think, "Come on. How many times did Jimi Hendrix ALONE use that note/chord sequence?" It doesn't help to play it in _ time! It's still an old, old, old riff that does not need to be resuscitated. I could say the same for so many Zen Guerrilla songs, it would be like a guy walking across a beach, with a surfboard under his arm. And nobody wants that.

By the way, I'm also pro-death penalty, but I understand how hard it is to know without a shadow of a doubt whether somebody did it or not, so I DO understand the arguments there. But abortion? Pfft. Again, who gives a shit?

Reader Comments

knowstev@med.umich.edu (Steven Knowlton)
Actually, we don't have an overpopulation problem: we have an underpopulation problem.

If we don't do something to turn around our population trends (either more births or more immigration) there won't be nearly enough people in the U.S. to pay for the Social Security of our retiring parents.

So there's your argument against abortion: we need cheap labor!

mattro@raptorial.com (Mattro)
I suspect Steven is playing devil's advocate, but I'll bite because I know there are individuals who actually believe we need more people to feed our social security system. Dreamers they be. The survival of Earthlings isn't in jeopardy because the U.S. social security system is losing steamS as stated, the greatest threat to citizens of Earth is that our sheer numbers are causing a natural resource crisis. No I'm not talking about oil; I'm talking about the resources we need to live: Water and air. Fresh (non-polluted) water supplies are dwindling. Our air is becoming more poisonous daily. Humans are decimating the one thing that can clean the airS the forests! Forests need to be really really big to do that air-cleaning thing. Everyday, humans make the forests of Earth smaller. That's not irony. That's stupidity.

Steven is correct about the cheap labor but not that we need more of it. Cheap labor is all you're really providing the future with when you keep squeezing out more pups. Short of zero population growth (or even an overall population decline... which has NEVER happened in recorded history), each new person born on Earth actually decreases the value of human life. Resources dwindling + population increasing = a pretty fucked up future for everybody alive to see it.

So who gives a rat's ass about the fuckin' US social security system compared to all that? Honestly people, stop having so many damned kids. At the very least put off having kids until you're in your late twenties or your thirties even. Put the child-rearing off for as long as you possibly can. There's NO hurry. Thanks to science, the biological clock is a myth. Kids just make you broke anyway.

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Positronic Raygun - Alternative Tentacles 1998.
Rating = 6

Uh oh! They Got The Boogie Woogie Blues! Loud and Heavy, like ZZ Top on amphetamines with a fat blues singer yowlin' and bawlin' away! When they're good, they're very very fun! But when they're bad, HOOOOOOOOOO. I mean, how much can one say about this band? Bendy notes, guitar solos, heavy guitar tones - they sound like The New Rollins Band essentially. I remain underimpressed by their songwriting (see REO Speedealer). Fun is not enough to carry a record when your songs sound like they were written by a 13-year-old Clapton fan trying to impress his heavy metal brother.

This brings up another point. The people who like this band - and believe me, there is a good number of them - what is it that they like? My guess is that they like electric blues. Which brings up another question - blues is such a limited form of music: by its very nature, to BE BLUES, your songs HAVE to stay within very small stylistic boundaries. I have a friend who insists that an increase in happiness is only possible through the collecting of new information. If this is the case, why are there so many people who like blues music? There is hardly ever ANY new information in ANY new blues song. Even the differences between the genre's most well-known musicians are so slim, most non-blues fans would have a really hard time picking them out. Why is this? Are blues fans into the emotional element? Are they simply enamored with that 12-bar thingy they do over and over? Or is it that they are really into minutia and enjoy hearing how different minds and fingers interpret and present the same ideas?

Even as big a hardcore punk fan as I am, I can't answer this question. Because I get just as bored when I hear clich‚d PUNK riffs - it's the speed and violence that can make me forgive certain bands (or funny lyrics or whatever). But it's mostly great guitar or vocal melodies I'm looking for. Like "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" or "Loudmouth." Or "Nervous Breakdown." Or "Angelfuck." Or "Reaganomics." To be honest, at this point, I even have a hard time sitting through a normal "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-solo-verse-chorus" song without thinking about how uncreative the artist is for sticking to such a limited, predictable formula. So of course the blues would bore the hell out of me when not twisted all out of proportion and turned into something else entirely (like early Led Zeppelin or early Rollins Band or some Cows stuff). And Zen Guerrilla simply doesn't go far enough for me. They've got ENERGY and LOUDNESS, but they're too tied to tradition for me to glean much "new information" out of them. Maybe they'd sound better if I was wasted. Otherwise: Scru Yu, Blus!

Having said that, check this joke I just made up for you: How can you tell the difference between an authentic blues musician and one signed by David Geffen?

A: An AUTHENTIC blues musician has come to play - a GEFFEN- SIGNED blues musician has come DRIPPING DOWN HIS CHIN! HA AHAHAHAHAH11

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Trance States In Tongues - Sub Pop 1999.
Rating = 6

Wow! They're going for the gusto on this one, bringing in the London Festival Orchestra, a gamelan symphony and a vocal choir made up of Ian Anderson, Jon Anderson, Laurie Anderson, Anderson Consulting aaaaaaaaaaaa I'm lying.

It occurs to me listening to this CD that these guys probably POUND in concert. Seems like it would be a lot of fun to be right up front banging your head and flailing around as this hard, heavy, fast blues rock pounds you in the chest at unbelievable volumes. But sitting at home playing it on the stereo, I still can't stop myself from focusing on the incredible lack of creativity in the riffs. It's just straight up generic playing from beginning to end, with pretty much the only excursion into actual song construction being a COVER of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." Still love the high energy though!

Oh sorry - to be more specific = everything they've done since the first album sounds exactly the same. These guys have displayed even less artistic growth than AC/DC, Motorhead, The Ramones and all those other bands I love even though everything they do sounds exactly the same.

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The Seeker 7" - Sub Pop 2000
Rating = 5

As a man whose current ringtone is the chorus of The Who's "The Seeker," I heartily endorse this or any other band releasing a cover of that song (the same way that, as a man whose previous ringtone was the intro to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," I'm heartily confused as to why that song keeps showing up in every movie trailer I see). Back in my karaoke days, I learned that several people in this world don't consider "The Seeker" to be among the top Who songs. Those people need to dig the worms out of their ears because the chewing noises are obviously interfering with the awesome macho swaggering ass-kicking blues-rock extravaganza that is The Who's "The Seeker". The Zen Guerrilla dude screws up one of the verses ("You're looking at me; I'm looking at you/We're looking at each other and we don't know what to do!" is now "I'm looking at you; you're looking at me/We're looking at each other and we don't know what to see") but when you're singing a song as fucking-e (excellent) as "The Seeker," it's easy to get so caught up in its cool-as-shit tough guy vibe that your brain fails to generate the correct lyrics. Take for example the time I stood up and sang it in Church; obviously I didn't intend to sing "I don't get to get what I'm after... 'til I urinate on Jesus's face" but the sheer power of Pete Townshend's windmilling blooze-roKKK masterpiece turned my brain into Jello and my legs into a generic store brand gelatin.

However, side two is an original Zen Guerrilla composition. Thus, the 5.

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Mob Rules 7" - Safety Pin 2001
Rating = 8

I guess it's true what they say: those who can, do; those who can't, do COVERS! This time out, the ZG's cover two '80s metal classics -- Black Sabbath (The Dio Years)'s face-melting "Mob Rules" and Iron Maiden's dual-guitar attack "The Trooper." The singer gives all his gusto to both tracks -- just as he had to "The Seeker" on a much, much earlier single that most of us can't even remember, I think it was a cover or something -- and "Mob Rules" easily kicks as much ass as the original version. However, as great a song as "The Trooper" is, these guitarists are far too sloppy to be playing NWOBHM covers, plus some nitwit in the recording booth pumped one of the guitars much louder than the other. So instead of a tightly harmonized "doo-did-diddle-ah-dee-did-diddle-ah-doo-di-doo!" attack, it sounds like one of the guitarists has his hands covered in pork'n'beans and the other one's hanging out next door with the cleaning lady.

But enough about music and its foibles -- look at all these Zany Ztatus UpdateZ that have been slayin' 'em down on Facebook lately:

Mark Prindle is currently blasting Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell 2: Back to Hell" at 4:51 AM. I'm almost certain that if the people in the apartment next door were to bust through the wall and murder me, they wouldn't go to jail.

Just for the record, whoever at AMG gave Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell 2: Back to Hell" 4.5 stars out of 5 has no business forming opinions about ANYTHING.

When the history of Western Civilization is written, I predict that Die Krupps' industrial "Tribute to Metallica" will not be considered one of our better ideas.

Do you ever look in the mirror and think, "Where did my youngness go?" If so, get a dictionary. The word is "youth."

THE WEST MEMPHIS 3 WERE FREED TODAY!?!?!?!??! Now they'll just go out and kill more little kids!

I just learned that Conrad Schnitzler passed away two weeks ago. May he rest in irritating noise.

Somehow Kevin Ayers' "Joy of a Toy" LP isn't turning out to be the balls-to-the-wall thrash metal explosion I was led to expect by its title.

Mark Prindle couldn't be "happier" that both Tori Amos and Linkin Park have new albums on the way. This is "great" news that doesn't make me "want to vomit" at all.

I can't believe I just listened to a Kansas album. This is almost as bad as that time I listened to a Styx album. However, it's nowhere near as bad as that time I listened to a Billy Joel album. I'd say it's about equivalent to that time I listened to an Eagles album.

I love the Dead Kennedys as much as the next guy, but must we cover Facebook with that "Tomorrow you're homeless" lyric every single time there's a riot somewhere in the world? Surely at least one of the rioters owns a Winnebago. Can we quote that one instead?

Mark Prindle just watched "Man on Wire." It was great! I especially loved the part where he fell off the wire and died. (SPOILER)

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Shadows On The Sun - Sub Pop 2001.
Rating = 4

Generic shitty blues rock. A few songs are actual SONGS and are actually GREAT -- "Inferno" has some cool guitar slap-and-leaves going on, ""Subway Transmission" is a cool psychedelic guitar wash like those on their debut, "Evening Sun" is built around an ACOUSTIC guitar (!!!!!) like Blind Melon or some other band whose singer died of a drug overdose (Alice In Chains) and "Where's My Halo?" baby that just SMOKES now, doesn't it! Otherwise, just a bunch of generic shitty blues rock.

You know, you could play every single Zen Guerrilla song at the same time and it wouldn't sound any different than any of the songs by themselves. It would also have saved me a lot of time - I could have reviewed their entire career in four minutes instead of the six and a half years that it took me to listen to the records over and over and over again to make sure I caught every nuance of their art..

Ha ha! I'm just playing "squeeze-tit!" with you! There ARE no nuances!!!! These guys SUCK!!!!!

Oops! Sorry, had a little "honesty" attack there. In conclusion, these guys work hard and PLAY hard! So get ready for some dirty low-down boogie woogie BLUES!

Reader Comments

Adam Hammack
I heard something called "Pocket of String" on accuradio.com. It's from a seven inch (single, not "big unit"). Anyway, I'd read about them on the site -- and here's my two cents: They sound like the roccabilly band that played at the SilverStone Club whenever Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble went out for a night on the town. (At least that one song did...) If only they were singing about rocks and junk, it'd be just like the cartoon! Anyway, it was really catchy. How in the hell do you hear about all of these bizarre but cool bands that nobody's thought about in ten years?

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Plasmic Tears and the Invisible City EP - Insect 2002
Rating = 6

Hi, I'm "Stickabooboo Jim". You know, sometimes when I'm out in the yard, just doing my "Stickabooboo Jim" thing and sexually harrassing all the women in the neighborhood, I think to myself, "Boy could I use some electronic squiggles and tape noises."

But that's only the beginning. When Zen "Frisbee" Guerrilla decide to create a psychedelic soundtrack to a film that probably doesn't even exist, they don't stop at mere squiggles and noises like that guy Sting Bono from The U2 Police would. It is absolutely astonishing how little I feel like writing a review right now.

Okay, from now on I'm going to replace one word of each sentence with an unnecessary obscenity. That will be fun, and really get me in the "modo."

This EP is 24 "BUTTFUCKS" long and separated into roughly five portions. The first (following a brief infinite-loop "TESTICLE") is a creepy yet calming selection of guitar arpeggios. This leads into a funky guitar solo jam "HIRSUTE" that meanders along for a bit longer than necessary. Part three is a trebly infinite-looped rock sample smothered in electronics and "PUFFY". Section four is an oldtimey Leon Redbone-style jaunty ditty mixed to sound as if it's coming out of a "BARELY". And finally, "ASIAN".

Yes it's one hell of a night when "Stickabooboo Jim" comes along.

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