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The Fine Art of Self-Destruction
Artist: Zoo Babies
Label: Ionic Records
Length: 10 tracks/37:46 minutes

Go Away

Steve Curtsinger and Jerry McBroom both left hard rock outfit Bride to do this groove/grunge project. They came up with a low budget mix of Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana-influenced grunge, with some generic hardcore and groove rock thrown in. It's not pretty. And it might be hard to pull in fans of the genre, who are used to all the rich tones and perfectly angst-ridden vocals of the dozens of acts of this type that ruled the '90s. Christian groove-heads into Disciple and Nailed might be into this, if they're open to demo-quality sonics and songwriting. Keep the volume down and do something else while you're listening, and you'll never know the difference.

The main flaw is the offkey and amateurish vocals. It's understandable for a first effort, but not listenable. Contrary to most older people's ears, there is some skill required to sing grunge; it's not just yelling. Some of the experimental stuff almost works, like the whispers or deep-voice spoken word stuff, but otherwise you'll be wincing. 

It's not all bad, though; songs like "Bob" and "Smile" capture the sloppy slacker sludge of early grunge with surprising authenticity, even if they have to rip off Bleach-era Nirvana to do so. Too bad Zoo Babies couldn't figure out how to get the same blistering production Cobain and Co. got for under $1000. That, and a trippier vocal style to hide the lack of vocal ability, might have given them a chance. 

Josh Spencer      1/15/2000 

Josh Spencer, contributing senior associate editor for The Phantom Tollbooth for over two years, is also publisher and editor-in-chief of spiritual pop culture webzine Stranger Things.  Reviews and articles by him are usually simultaneously published in some form at http://www.strangerthingsmag.com.


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