ALBUM REVIEW: Thalia Zedek Band – Via

thalia zedek band via

Written for the 405

Context is important. To draw your attention to the man behind the curtain, briefly (I have an outdated view of the importance of and mystique around modern music journalism): the first time I listen to an album for review by a band or musician I’m not familiar with, I just listen. I don’t read up on them beforehand, lest I cloud my initial, personal judgement, or else let my final judgement be informed by somebody else’s opinions. In the case of Via, the lack of context lead me to think this was a polished, well-rehearsed bit of latter-day Americana – the sort I like, the one where Jeff Tweedy could easily have bee involved – with one of those strong, slightly raspy and quirkily higher-pitched male singers that stalk the indie rock plains as of late.

It does remind me of the sort of alt-country born out of Uncle Tupelo’s disintegration. And it is well-rehearsed; because the person behind the music – more on them in a moment – has been in the music business for, ooh, three decades? Except it’s a she, not a he. I chalk that mistake down to a mixture of confusing trends for “effeminate” male singers and, admittedly, a degree of ingrained sexism on my part. I’m sorry, Ms Zedek. Especially for my ignorance as to her musical heritage – she helped lead nascent punk and no-wave bands like Uzi and Live Skull in the eighties (I should probably read that Thurston Moore book I’ve had on my shelf or three years) and, more recently, soon-to-be-reissued alt-rock in the guise of Come. That’s why Viasounds like such a fully-rounded grown up of a record. The person who made it is one herself.

The album is like a kitbash of Zedek’s former musical lives. There’s noise; her foot is never far from the overdrive pedal, a heavy rope of fuzz guitar wrapped around all nine tracks to keep things alive. The band are strong, and each gets their chance to shine – drums splash and crash, guitars are subject to both delicate blues riffs and squealing, wrenching solos, pianos and organs are hammered like Jerry Lee Lewis (that comparison works any way you want to take it) – even if it isn’t the most distinct of sounds. The most impressive element is the woman herself.

I went to see This Is 40 the other week, and I bloody loved it. It features some puerile toilet humour and pop culture references, but they’re mainly films made – unlike the majority of big-budget Hollywood comedies – for middle-aged people, by middle-aged people. Which isn’t a indictment, at all: it’s refreshing, it has more to say than most youth-oriented comedies, and yet it loses none of it’s energy. Thalia Zedek, at 52, has lived a life, possessing an infamously ‘aching rasp’ that is lived-in, trustworthy, but a bit exhausted – she has something to say, but she can have fun doing it too. Via sounds as matured lyrically as it does musically, and has a lust for life many younger bands fail to muster. Even if it gets tired out a little easier.

7/10

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: