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Amid All the Fun, Ziggens Get Deep

September 14, 1996|MIKE BOEHM

***

The Ziggens

"Ignore Amos"

Skunk

The Ziggens' fourth album is pretty much like the previous three--a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit punk, a lot of bits surfy and a great deal of fun. There are moments of silly satire, songs of purest nonsense and a couple of deeply poignant, contemplative tracks that lend an emotional ballast beyond the reach of most humor-oriented rock bands.

"Ignore Amos" (we told you they were silly) finds the veteran O.C. act retaining a personality all its own as it expands from a trio to a foursome.

Among the neatest tricks here is the merger of two classic early-'60s California styles, Bakersfield rockin' country twang and surf-rock reverb twang, on "My Paycheck Bounced," the album's funniest song.

The Ziggens use silliness to build a loaded case against a racist wife beater on "Domestic Violins," as singer Bert Susanka plays an Archie Bunker without the charm.

The neo-Beach Boys garage-rock of "Have a Bitchin' Summer" spoofs the underside of the California Dream: If you're living in a culture that expects you to have fun all the time, it can be kind of a drag trying to live up to the image.

The Ziggens turn in a couple of good surf-style instrumentals, especially "Sea Kelp," with its moody, high-plains western and flamenco strains.

The band's trademark innocence surfaces in two songs about keeping alive memories--the sing-along rocker "Really Bad Sunburn" and "San Clemente," a wistful campfire ballad.

It wouldn't be a Ziggens album if Susanka didn't put on his Paul Simon-ish hangdog folkster's voice for a couple of songs. Here he does it while repeating familiar Ziggens themes: coping with sorrows by stuffing one's face ("Big Salty Tears") and contemplating one's mortality in a song of Christian faith.

That prayerful finale, "Wait One Minute," serves as a prelude to a mutely eloquent expression of sorrow over the loss of the Ziggens' friend and Skunk label mate, Brad Nowell of Sublime.

These makers of fun-filled music grounded in the simplest slices of everyday living find deep meaning by indeed waiting through one profoundly empty minute in recognition of a life suddenly stopped. Then, life goes on in a concluding sonic collage done just for the fun of it.

(Available from the Ziggens, P.O. Box 2354, Buena Park, CA 90621; [714] 284-5511.)

* The Ziggens, Water, the Killingtons and Smalls play a free concert Sunday in the parking lot at the CD ^Center, 4344 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos. 1-5 p.m. (310) 598-8335. The Ziggens also play Sept. 25 with Clowns for Progress and Four at Linda's Doll Hut, 107 S. Adams St., Anaheim. 9 p.m. $5. (714) 533-1286.

Albums are rated on a scale of * (poor) to **** (excellent), with *** denoting a solid recommendation.

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