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Ear to the Ground: Zig Zags’ “Brainded Warrior”

Putting the “pow” back in “power trio,” the L.A. proto-punk hesh heathens punch life back into the longhaired punk ’n’ roll sound of yore.

Los Angeles trio Zig Zags builds on a foundation of scuzzy, punk-paced rock ’n’ roll similar to ’70s bands like Bizarros and the Rubber City Rebels. But listen closely to their Ty Segall-produced eponymous debut, and you’ll also hear trace elements of the Alice Cooper Band, early Royal Trux, and the Damned.

While most musicians are reticent to describe their own sound, Zig Zags pretty much nail it in the segment of their bio that reads, “When [Metallica bassist] Cliff Burton wore that Misfits shirt—Zig Zags. When the Emergency Broadcast System interrupts that John Carpenter movie—Zig Zags. When a soggy pile of Thrasher mags and Jack Kirby comics spills out of a dumpster behind the Sunday school—Zig Zags.”

“Brainded Warrior,” the first song off their full-length album, demonstrates the accuracy of this description. It’s a sonic jolt of face-slapping, riff-heavy hard rock played at proto-punk speeds. Guitarist Jed, bassist Patrick, and drummer Bobby share a musical chemistry that pulses like they’re tapped into one cerebral mainframe. Jed’s guitar playing is a relentless attack of distorted punches pushed through a tower of cabs—imagine Johnny Ramone having to share gear with UFO-era Michael Schenker. And despite Ty Segall sitting at the mixing chair, there’s a refreshingly noticeable absence of reverb here and throughout the album.

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