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Positronic Raygun

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Album Review

Zen Guerrilla's long-overdue sophomore full-length (it was preceded by an inconspicuous debut five years earlier and a set of EPs in between), 1998's Positronic Raygun, was a mixed bag. Although their overall mission statement (regurgitating post-MC5 proto-psych-punk-blues for the unsuspecting "me" generation) and signature sound (guitars set on maximum fuzz distortion, frenetic drums, and Marcus Durant's crazed, echo-laden screams) were already pretty much intact, the Delaware group's songwriting wasn't yet entirely up to snuff. Manic instrumental opener "Saucerships to Ragtime" sets the wild, warped (and weird) tone outright, and the re-recorded old single "Trouble Shake," with its insistent shouts to "Wake up in the morning," is certain to rouse even the sleepiest of listeners, maybe even get them to testify. The bluesy piano/harmonica intermission "Roachman" provides a short breather before segueing into further slabs of raucous, unrestrained lunacy, including "Empty Heart," "She's a Radar," and the excellent "Tomato Cup," which cleverly disfigures the classic "Dust My Broom" slide riff into near-oblivion. Finally, confirming that they are far from a one-trick pony, Zen Guerrilla whips out the gentle blues ballad "Healing in the Water" as a final reprieve, leading up to the album's soothing denouement a few songs later via the soul loop outro "Frequency Out."

Customer Reviews

Best record you've never heard

It's a cultural failing that this band existed on a low radar and were not recognized for their greatness. I wouldn't know which song to start with. Healing in the Water? But that's one aspect. Just go get your favorite discontented and unsettled mood, park it on your couch in low light, and let Marcus Durant and the band recalibrate your reality. You're welcome.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The rock fusion band Zen Guerilla is a musical oddity quite appropriate for the Sub Pop genre. Formed in the early '90s in Delaware, Marcus Durant (vocals), Andy Duvall (drums), Carl Horne (bass), and Rich Millman (guitar) defined their own musical stylings with blues, rock, and gospel and a rock & roll so real it introduced itself. Playing countless shows across the nation molded a devoted following as well as attention from punk pioneer Jello Biafra. Zen Guerilla and Biafra met up in 1995 and together...
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Positronic Raygun, Zen Guerrilla
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