AOM Logo July 1999

Zebrahead: Waste of Mind

Columbia Records / Sony Music USA

Playing time: 45:69

Christopher Tocher

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Music is a gift, a divine creation that combines emotion, intellect, and passion with science, producing colorful tones and textures from which all human senses can be measured. From the earliest forms of documented music, varied styles have allowed all tastes and palates to savour satisfaction. It's fair to assume that the modern vein of alternative music has continually charted its own course and floated adrift of conventionality, constantly in pursuit of eking out something new, something that renders the style unique. As such, bands search tirelessly for that entity which might give their music relevance and create permanent appeal. In the case of Zebrahead's debut release, Waste of Mind, the styles fused together are not strong enough to give the music any sort of credible attributes. Sadly, I heard Waste of Mind as a clash of musical cultures that reached aimlessly for a coherent focus, but splintered into a type of music that is dazed and confused.


There seems to be an even balance of raw talent within the group split between the instrumental and vocal capabilities. Lyrics are filled with hormonal angst, and their delivery is impressive. Singer Justin "Goldtoof" Mauriello sustains the energetic rap ramblings of Ali Tabatabaee while the two produce some lucid harmonies that can be quite potent. Yet, fueled by testosterone- laden, darkly distorted guitar riffs, the pulsating vocals led this listener to hardcore burnout.

Did I expect too much? When listening to the album in its entirety, one recognizes flashes of potential, but the songs quickly diminish into weak, arcane endings (for example: The Real Me). There is evidence of original musicality, though it does not seem to take aim, shoot or fire. Some tracks had openings that interested me (notably Waste of Mind, Jag Off and Fly Daze), but these, too, soon fell into a vocal monotony that overstayed its welcome.

It is difficult for a young band to achieve a musical identity, and what Zebrahead attempts has been done before. However, if they concentrate on synthesizing their sound (achieved only through much production consultation) instead of creating a constant inimical sound, their raw talent would no doubt reap some admirable benefits.

An interesting premise has been penned for Zebrahead's next album: apparently, the CD will be called Ron's Greatest Hits, named in honor of the band's fascination with porn legend Ron Jeremy. More slam, bang, I would think.

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