Tic Toc Tic (Lotus Child Music/604)
Tic Toc Tic is the Zolas’ first release, but the band’s principals, singer-guitarist Zachary Gray and pianist Tom Dobrzanski, aren’t newcomers to the local music scene. A few years back they were in an outfit called Lotus Child, whose self-released CD, Gossip Diet, didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved. The pair are having better luck these days, with Tic Toc Tic released under license to the Universal Music–affiliated 604 Records. So, while the Zolas still have the cachet of being an indie band, they have major-league distribution. It’s the best of both worlds!
Similarly, the band aims to straddle two aesthetic spheres. With its strong hooks, topnotch playing, and slick production (thanks to help from coproducer Howard Redekopp), this 12-track album is rooted in pop. But when things take unexpected turns—like when Dobrzanski transforms “Cab Driver” into a clinic in boogie-woogie cabaret keyboard artistry, or when the tribal chants and whooping come in on the four-minute operetta “Pyramid Scheme”—Zolas move squarely into art-rock territory. Or, as the band’s MySpace page suggests, “it’s like Justin Timberlake meets The Beatles”.
Gray’s lyrics tend to be of the trouble-with-girls variety, as on “You’re Too Cool”, in which the narrator seethes with angst over some hipster he met at the Biltmore. I don’t know if Gray’s actually single. If he is, he shouldn’t be for long. If there’s any justice in the world, being in a band as good as the Zolas will get him some serious action.
Download This: “Cab Driver”