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Who They Are and How They Came To Be 
Artist:  Zen Boy & Karma Girl
Label:  Independent
I'm driving down Route 66 with my 14 year-old twin daughters in tow.  I insert this new CD from Phantom Tollbooth into the player.  I ask the girls, "How do you like this?"   They roll their eyes and say, "Very retro, Dad!"    I retro an accumulation of music that has caught with us?   This one sounds to me like what a Zen monk once called, "beginner's mind."    I pray...."Lord, let me not take myself too seriously and help me to make less sense more of the time."  
                            Everyone's so serious
                             I just want to play
                            I am only a copy
                            of someone's DNA 
                                                        ZB & KG
So, I'm looking at this new CD.  These young people claiming to be from another planet stare at me from their photograph.  So what's the concealed identity, super-hero from another planet thing about?   In the picture, Zen Boy stares far away into the future, while Karma Girl looks connected, young with golden, determined eyes .  And I wonder if, like their words state, they are 'ready to dry my tears.'   
I'm driving alone down a freeway exit.  A impossibly wrinkled, sunburned faced old, homeless man stares at me over his cardboard sign that reads,'God bless.'   I think, 'dry his eyes, please.'   
On my first listen to this CD, my inner critic bristles and is ready to pounce.  Finally, I can write a bad review.    The second time through the critic sheds like a caterpillar leaves her cocoon for flight.   And the third listen brings forth the following visions...
Ian meets Sylvia for the first time, Don & Phil Everly first discover their shimmering harmonies...then, Donovan drifts into view with his folkie mystic wind.  Richard and Mimi Farina are there, center stage, all too briefly. And Simon smiles at Garfunkel on a heavenly wave.  Then, these two cartoon figures drift in and I am captivated.So, this is retro, I think.   They are from California's southern most coastline and they merge like two streams into one as they flow into the blue pacific as their cosmic ancestry have already done. 
Their music is simple-no show off grandstanding or speedy picking- but they are all of the parts of their sum.  It was Pete Seeger who once said of Woody Guthrie, "It takes genius to be simple. Any damned fool can be complicated."   The music from this enigmatic duo is deceptively simple.  It is gentle folk music with sweet harmonies, easy melodies and lyrics with a tweaked wit about them.  
For some reason, I am drawn to these distant two who peer at me from their photo and seem to say, "Compare us to no one but ourselves."   Suddenly, with a crash of cartoon thunder, the cloaked identity makes sense.  These two young people have emerged from a youth culture mired in the deceptiveness of uniformed unconformity and dark skin slashing fear music,  as though from another planet.  Listen to "Copy,"  "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," and "Keys," and you may understand the fun these two are having in the creation of their own, unique California folk sound.  After all, they may be here to save our planet.  To this old folkie, they certainly seem to be the hope for our future.
As their music plays on, I continue down Route 66 on a retro-ride all the while California dreamin.'  
Terry Roland 

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