Hardcore Crayons: Zozzled


Well this has got to be one of 2015’s most under-appreciated albums. Minneapolis trio Hardcore Crayons released it on January 1st, and it simultaneously seems like something that would go nowhere but is also super accessible.

The band describes themselves as “math/post rock infused intertwined w/ elements of jazz & dub,” but I basically just hear avant-garde jazz and plenty of rock. My guess is they put the other stuff in there to try to get more critics to listen to them. Which is fine…I mean, heck, I’m in favor of these guys just kidnapping people, handcuffing them to a chair, and forcing them to listen to this album.

The first thing you notice when you pop in the disc (I actually have the disc) is the delicious, warm sound. The recording and mixing is done perfectly, and the bass tone (some of it provided by keys, I’m pretty sure) is inviting, fuzzy in a puppy’s fur kind of way, and mesmerizing. With hardly any vocals (and none in the traditional sense…there are some distant shouts and murmurs here and there), the band warms you up well for their really wacky stuff with some odd meters but in a really accessible bouncy groove.

By the time you get to the noodly part of the second track (which then goes on to dominate the third, fourth, and fifth tracks), you’re already sold and willing to go with them on their journey. And the fact that you’re pre-registered ends up being a good thing because the freer, wackier stuff here is a little half-baked in my opinion. I kind of wish much of it had been cut or re-sequenced, but like I said, you’re here to just go along for the ride.

And if you do follow their lead, this ends up being incredibly listenable. It rewards close listening, but some of the noodly parts are almost better as background. You can get lost in this easily with delight, and by the time the band really brings it home with their strongest stuff for “More Sugar” and “Wgyw” it gives you a nice adrenaline push through to the end.

If they can sound as good live as they do on disc, and if they can keep their shows moving along enough that you don’t need to be stoned to enjoy it, then all y’all Minnesotans should make sure you check these guys out.

Mix: “Wgyw”
Really Like:
“Zozzled, “Completely Relevant: Part I,” “Daddy Issues,” “More Sugar”
Meh: “Kid Is Goat,” “Fuzzy Origins,” “Completely Relevant: Part II,” “Was That Cool?”
Filed Between: I don’t know my CD’s aren’t unpacked yet
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Srsly –
  2. Zozzled – awfully similar to prior track. gets too noodly
  3. Completely Relevant: Part I – segue/transition track. more experimental than composed. sax solo. Quite good up until the noodly part that …
  4. Kid Is Goat – … flows into this from last one so this starts off just as sparse noodly wackiness
  5. Fuzzy Origins – another transitional track
  6. Daddy Issues – maybe a bit too slow here and there, but has some great parts
  7. Completely Relevant: Part II – another transitional track. mostly a horn solo with some chugging high pitched guitar in the back. plus bass and drums natch.
  8. More Sugar – gets almost metal in its insistence. would be really lke if it weren’t for that atmosphereic, nearly silent part in the middle section
  9. Wgyw – probably stands for “what you gonna wear” right?. except it’s not in that order so okay. I like the way this starts, with slow space-y keys and then like a 70’s style Rocky-esque anticipation guitar riff but with a 90’s effects pedal. Drums could be bigger when they come in, but they fix that soon enough when the bass joins in.
  10. Was That Cool? – starts with silence for 20 s. more o a bonus track than anything…really free, reminiscent of bonus track at end of Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante

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