Agony Shorthand

Friday, December 19, 2003
ZOOMERS : “EXIST” CD…..My first stab at the new batch of Hyped2Death reissues & unearthings is this CD from 1979-82 Baton Rouge, Louisiana space punks THE ZOOMERS, and I am coming away from three back-to-back-to-back spins extremely impressed. In a town and geographic region not especially noted for out of the box rock and roll thinking (SHIT DOGS notwithstanding!), The Zoomers were cranking up the phasers, delay effects, plinky keyboards and distortion pedals and layering them on top of genuinely offbeat song structures. Their only 7”EP, “From The Planet Moon / You’ll See / Somatic”, collected here along with what looks to be a cassette-only release, has probably the most pedestrian bunch of tracks on the disc, yet even these are truly unique slices of early underground lunacy. “Moon” (which appears in two versions) is just a hands-down absolute left field classic, starting with the opening proclamation, “My space ship landed” and spinning off into oddball time structures & new invented on the spot choruses from there. Later in the CD you get a sense of the LSD obsession that band leader “Zoomer” describes in his liner notes: some not-too-annoying jams, and all the controlled musical experimentation you can handle, yet still well within the confines of what we might call “late 70s/early 80s American punk-influenced DIY”. The notes make reference to a pretty sizable band hostility to the day’s punk rockers, and laughs wistfully at their ill-starred gig opening for the BAD BRAINS in Baton Rouge. Eventually it was the drugs that did the band in, and I think it’s hard to come away from this and not infer the influence of heavy stimulants on the band’s creative process. That or they were just wacked to begin with; likely both. I’m thankful the Hyped2Death organization took the time to put it together; Chuck’s track record of finding the best and weirdest treasures from this era continues to impress.