What do you get if you combine Canada, the guy that mixed Aphex Twin and guitars? The answer is The Zolas. I would also have accepted ‘saaaay whaaaat?’ however. The Zolas make guitar and piano driven indie music fuelled by a strong beat and soaked in sincerity. The cult Canadian band are unleashing their album on the world, Ancient Mars.
All the best indie music has a unique quality to it, alongside insightful lyrics that will possess your body to move. The moment In Heaven rolls out your speakers you’ll hear that The Zolas have this down better than Liam Neeson at getting family members back. A major strength of this album is the variety within it. In Heaven has a calamitous riff and crisp drums, giving it a quirky sound. Knot In My Heart changes this before you’re even sure what you’ve just heard. A down beat opening and verse opens the before breaking into a deceptively bright chorus. These shifts happen so frequently by the end of track ten you ears will be ripped from the sonic work out. Tracks like Local Swan will make you move as a clear and powerful drum beat vibrates through your mind. At the same time the piano driven simplicity of Escape Artist will bring out your thoughtful and reflective side.
Being a band and all, a major part of the record is the instruments. The band have used their musical weapons with more creatively than most. Some things are consistent, like the drumming. Whether your reflecting or singing along badly (like a boss) this is always clear, crisp and powerful. Local Swan shows this off to a tee. The verses show it at it’s restrained best whilst the chorus sees it jump into an indie dance floor filler. The guitars are a major factor in the bands versatility. They can sound subtle and supportive in tracks like the final bonus track. Equally they can hit your ears with maximum swagger in tracks like Strange Girl. The piano adds an interesting addition to the sound, giving the songs another level. The piano and guitars have let the band create even more brain surprizing soundscapes. Some songs drop the piano or guitars entirely creating entirely different vibes. Strange Girl shows the guitar used to devastatingly catchy effect with that big riff whilst the guitars get a rest with Escape Artist.
Now about those lyrics. Like all the best indie music they give your brain something to do and make you smile. Whether it’s Ancient Mars with an ode to college/Mars or holding up an observatory they’ll tickle. “Hands in the air/listen to me/this is a stick up at the observatory” from Observatory will rattle around your head for days, whilst giving you one of those creepy random smiles that’s causes people to give you a funny look. Underneath the imagery though they echo emotions and desires well, tracks like Local Swan won’t fail to stir a feeling or two. Delivery is everything though, and happily they’re delivered brilliantly. The sincerity of the music runs into the vocals and gives them a bare and honest feel. There are also a few sneaky vocal harmonies with some interesting flows.
A very strong album, it’s hard not to change your mind about favourite tracks with every song that greets your ears. With that in mind here goes nothing. Strange Girl is a big tune, energetic with a big riff the lyrics will make you smile as they make you picture your own strange girl. Observatory is another standout track with a tropical guitar riff and some inspired words. Limiting it to three (no mean feat) Cold Moon is a stripped back beauty with a sultry piano riff, soulful synths and a haunting beat. The lyrics again will make you smile and think as they remind you ‘I found the stomach to deny/the urge to look you up online … but sometimes I still do”.
This record will take you a trip filled with reflection, sounds and variation. Whether you’re in the mood for a guitar banger or a thoughtful track The Zolas have something for you packaged in awesome sounds and words. If you like your indie music original and meaningful this is a band for you.
- In Heaven
- Knot In My Heart
- Ancient Mars
- Strange Girl
- Escape Artist
- Local Swan
- Euphrates and Tigris
- Cold Moon
- Cultured Man *Bonus Track