Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zombie Prom Queen: Stone Cold and Gray

     Zombie Prom Queen are a New Zealand duo whose music crackles in the acid pool of lo-fi recording, a downfall amplified by the gruff, 'sore-throat' vocals. Stone Cold and Gray is from what I can deduce, their first album, available over at their Free Music Archive page, though the group is also the proprietor of their own record label, 'Postmoderncore'. Despite the quality of the music though, there is a distinct passion, power and old-fashioned feel to the sound that drew me to listen to this nine track record.
     There are two different atmosphere's to this album, for me. The first impression I got from the simple guitar riffs was of one man on his porch, musing about the wrong done to him during his lifetime. The second came in shortly afterwards, and felt very much like a man preaching passionately to his church assembly, a layer to the music that's reinforced by the constant references to God. Rather than sincere and thought through, it feels like a man, drunken and broken, has stumbled from a greasy, smoke filled bar after a night of sin. The sound of the album is gritty, loud and wallowing in a filthy punk attitude.
     One of the things that stopped me from loving this album was the repetitiveness of the nine tracks. The lyrics on most songs are very much spoken, rather than sang, meaning there isn't much variety in terms of vocal dynamism. I wouldn't have minded if the lyrics were well thought out, but they just weren't. That was, when I could understand them over the suffocating layer of reverb and terrible recording quality the band used. The sound that backed the vocals however, was not bad at all. The simple guitar gained a rough punk aggression from the quality of the recording, which lessened the uninspired impact of the vocals slightly, but not enough to make it unnoticeable. Frankly, I would try to avoid.
     Having said that, the album isn't without highlights, relative to the rest of the tracks. For instance, the drum beats present on 'Trouble and Whisky and Foul Deeds' and 'Lonely Man Blues' were good, but then I realised that that was only because the rest of the record well, wasn't so. My favourite track is definitely 'Stone Cold and Gray Blues', the track from which the title of the album is taken. I enjoyed it because of the lessened vocals, on the most part, but also because the group brought in a clean, jazz piano sound that lifted the shadow that smothers the record, even if it only was for a few minutes.
     Overall, I enjoyed the different, punk-rock attitude of the spoken word attribute this album held, but by the end it became almost monotonous, and really quite boring. The simple guitar melodies are slashed into pieces by the grating lo-fi recording, but through the cell bars reach outstretched hands in the form of 'Stone Cold and Gray Blues'. Anyone who likes some alternative rock might enjoy this. That's a big might. Like, huge.