Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

When I moved back to San Francisco in 1999 after a couple of years in Seattle, the ZODIAC KILLERS emerged very briefly as my hometown’s signature punk rock band. I think I caught three rapid-fire, quick succession shows before the band imploded and broke up amidst much acrimony. Their pedigree was pretty stunning if you were/are a fan of ballistic, no-holds-barred lightning-fast garage punk – Greg Lowery, an original third of the brilliant SUPERCHARGER, had come to the band after an ignominious stint in “the Rip Offs”. Not only that, but there was Ross fresh over from THE BRIDES, whose first 45 is still one the best raw & howling modern garage records of the past twenty years, and Jami Wolf, who had a great vocal snarl and was given to dressing in nurses’ outfits onstage (this was definitely the band of choice for nurse fetishists in 1999-2000). Shows typically began and ended within twenty minutes, with about 12-15 songs packed together in a blinding manner that was closer to early 80s aggro hardcore than Mummies/Supercharger/etc. 60s-inspired ramalama. Their 1999 debut CD “The Most Thrilling Experience” captured this speed and power all quite well, I’d say. After they dissolved, I’d heard Lowery had an entirely new group of Zodiac Killers assembled, and, thinking that to be pretty lame, I decided to punish them by refraining from paying attention.

Well! The new line-up’s just as hot if not hotter. The 2nd CD “Have A Blast” from 2001 (brand new to me) follows the exact same recipe – straight-up, loud, blazing, hardcore-style rawness, played as tight as the first DIE KRUEZEN LP and faster than TEENGENERATE and other compatriots. Let’s see, the longest track on here clocks in at 1:48, but I assure you there’s no one-chorus-too-many going on there. Occasionally something a little more late 70s/bouncy sneaks in, and those slight aberrations (“Party For My Enemies”) are among the best of the 13 tracks on here. The riffs are just HUGE, too, and the production couldn’t be better. If this sounds even remotely attractive, trust me, the Zodiac Killers are doing this light-years better than anyone else around. What’s the catch? None really, as long as you don’t understand English. These lyrics and sentiments expressed therein are among the DUMBEST you’ll ever hear anywhere (a typical lyric is “gonna kill, kill, kill, kill, kill you tonight!” or “kamikaze, kamikaze, it’s a kamikaze attack!”), and seriously, there’s actually a dude in the band who goes by the nom de plume of “Billy Badass”. Billy Badass!!! I don’t even know if the band’s still a going concern anymore, but if they’re out there and playing, I think I’m ready to get reinvolved. (UPDATE: stop the presses -- there's a new one out now!)