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Zonnis – Rise Of The Sheep – Album Review

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[bandcamp width=600 height=720 album=3035812743 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=e32c14 tracklist=false]

Unlike the White Stripes, Victoria, British Columbia’s Zonnis use the married couple aspect of their band to elevate the music, rather than hiding it, creating a dynamic that allows a lot of fun lyricism to mess around with. On their latest record, Rise Of The Sheep, they mix country, blues, rock and more with their clever lyricism and unique vocals, so is there any reason to judge the album by its cartoonish cover?

The album opens on some country-twanged blues with “Too Little Too Late” with some lively brass and percussion to liven the sound. Unfortunately without a twist on the blues sound the song ends up being more forgettable than the playful lyrics, deserve. The lyrics do however elevate “Up Dawson Creek Without A Paddle” where they give an engaging and humorous account of rural life.

A dark honky-tonk guides the booze anthem of “Drinkin’ In The Dark,” while the lyrics tell a cautionary tale about where it can take you. Despite a bit more variety than the start of the record, Zonnis reliance on classic musical frameworks leaves a bit to be desired. On “Fly With Me” their sound moves in the right direction adding some choice keyboards and a clarinet to make a chorus that’s undeniably memorable, especially with the “Get High With Me” that end each chorus. Using these instruments save the duller verses later in the song, and keep some tone when the vocals turn to a rasp.

The sound switches back to a more classic country on “Moonshine,” where the lyrics tell a playfully dark tale about how much liquor can affect your life and the way people blame it. The melodies themselves are easy listening for country fans but may prove less accessible to others. The dark swing of “The Ghost Song” with its added strings provide a great ambiance for a spooky tale from beyond the grave, with Andrea’s vocals going from operatic to Alison Mosshart at times.

Coco Loco” finds the band once again running familiar grounds musically, but the delivery of the lyrics and vocals overall give more edge to the track than other derivative tracks on the record. Brian Setzer’s soul possesses the fast rock of “Party Boots” making it arguably the most upbeat and danceable track of the record. This undeniable energy and the way the band absolutely nail the style make it one of the highlights of the record.

Reggae is just another style the band tries on “Springtime Fever” which provides another amazing vocal performance from Andrea. Despite this however the reggae sound feels quite out of place on an album primarily leaning to country and blues. “Just A Little Piece” is the last of the band’s derivative tracks, offering a track that would have great live energy but once again does nothing to change the game. The album closes on the sombre “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that delivers great emotional weight through its instrumentation and vocals, and despite its minimal variety, its choruses deliver a satisfying close to the album.

Rise Of The Sheep boasts some great talent all around from Zonnis but it often sounds like something you’ve heard before, leaving half the record feeling stale next to the more original tracks. Andrea’s great vocal work, the lyricism, and the other half of the record prove there is more to Zonnis than meets the eye, but less derivative writing will be needed to prove that to a wider audience.

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