This compilation LP culls together an album and bonus single from Boston’s Zeel and the feeling is both familiar and refreshing. The sounds here could easily have sat somewhere between the output of SST and Homestead in the ‘80s, mixing the hard-scrabble rock of Hüsker Dü with the gnarled weirdness of Dinosaur Jr. The band’s more interested in grit that the shiny promise of a hook and I have to respect that. Guitars are rush through stomp box fuzz and through the speakers in graveled saunter. The vocals fight with the amplifier fuzz for dominance, giving equal footing to riff and ramble.
The record makes a great case for a return to the ripped denim and unwashed tee shirt smell of pre-grunge. Every song here is working hard to hit that sweet spot when punk met head on with the wanting touch of the jangled sweat that was brewing in the backroom of college radio stations and stuck between the pages of zines with more passion that direction. They embrace that moment before the tide turned and the Singles soundtrack came and threw the goodwill into the fan, spreading it far and wide through suburban America. Sure, there’s a case to be made that the sounds have been mined, but there’s more probably more to carve out of the rock. This one sits nicely next to Milk Music and early Gun Outfit on your shelf of new rumblers.
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