Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, Schematics
I requested this album based on two considerations: A) I heard one song a long time ago and that, combined with the groovy name, kept them stuck in my head, and B) I figured that any group of people that could formulate such a nifty name could certainly provide equally nifty tunes. Plus, they have a girl in the band (singer Rachel Minton), and, generally, I’m a sucker for girls in bands. Girls that aren’t gimmicks, at least; girls like Kim Deal and Tina Weymouth or even Subways bassist Charlotte (playing bass helps — hint, hint). Other than that, I knew absolutely nothing about Zolof. One song and a name.
Apparently, two different types of creativity are employed in naming a band and then writing spiffy music for that band. And folks, let’s face it: a name like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer does conjure up words like spiffy, groovy, and nifty…as well as visions of a little green spacemen zipping around blasting stuff. With the creativity utilized to name said band, they could apparently even come up with awesome album artwork reminiscent of New Age comics. So why can’t they pull off equally vibrant tunes?
The disclaimer about the record filled me in a bit on Zolof. In their earlier records (2003′s Jalopy Go Far) band members Rachel Minton and co. churned out juvenile happy-fun ga-ga pop punk. Emphasis was placed on their supposed maturity on this record: “If the previous releases from Zolof had listeners day-dreaming of candy-apples and panda bear cuddle-parties, then Schematics will conjure up images of appletinis and dinosaur orgies.” See, I told you, image-conjuring shouldn’t be a big deal to these people. But instead of surreal drunken dinos parading around in dance party madness, we’re left with generic, grungy guitar pop-punk, with a gimmicky girl churning out Top 40 vocals.
Maybe they were better off as panda/puppy delinquents. Maybe then they were more into sexy Moog synth lines. On Schematics, the Moog gets a few blips here and there, but nothing significant. Guitars are so played; why would you under-utilize the Moog, if you’ve got it? Admittedly, the record is not a completely rotten candy-apple. “The Moon and Mars” has an upbeat space-lounge vibe propelled by a B-movie Moog line in between verses. I mean, it’s a generic structure — quiet verse, exploding chorus — but it’s not so bad.
Unfortunately, few other tracks employ cool vibes and grooves. Most are straight-ahead pop-punkers with this new “serious” spin on all the lyrics. Breakups and backstabbers, corporate evils, blah, blah, blah. Zolof would do well to return to quirky, Moog-driven tunes with no pretensions to seriousness or musical maturity.