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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

The Zest of Yore
Admit That It's Christmas (You've Got To) (CD)

I was damned impressed with this Denton, Texas trio, The Zest of Yore. By all accounts, it promised to be campy. The cover of Admit That It's Christmas (You've Got To) features Saint Nick all dressed up in a getup like Voltron. So I thought, must be some silly stuff. Instead, we get extremely strong songs reminisicient of either the Posies, Track Star, or Masters of the Hemisphere. As a pop trio, the group is really great at writing a tuneful track. Just the kind I like, weird enough to rise above standard pop on the radio, but accessible enough in chord structure to please a wider palette of fans. That first song "The Kid Gloves Come Off" has strange chord changes which sometimes remind me of Elliott Smith's old band Heatmiser. Fans of more punky stuff like the White Stripes and The Thermals which dominates college radio today may think the band is a little too understated or mellow. Not me. Great songs have a way of transcending a need for angst or unnecessary firepower, and this CD is a perfect example.

"A Cultivated Sensibility" comes in under the two minute mark but is no less compelling. One of my favorite songs was "Already Lost". I really hear Ken Stringfellow in the tracks like this one. That innate pop sensibility is evident in the two songwriters, Stephen Pierce and John McCane. Like all great songwriting teams from the Beatles forward they've got what it takes to craft songs that are smart and arresting yet easily assimilated. And to help along with this, John Hussey is no slouch in keeping things interesting on drums either. The bio says that he "inflicts a jazz style on rock" and it's not so hard to believe that statement. In a word, the drums are strangely tasteful for these more straightforward songs, they have a good awareness to them that's often lacking in trios like this. The title track closer "Admit That It's Christmas (You've Got To)" proves to be a tender little ballad that I wouldn't hesitate putting on a holiday indiepop compilation for a friend.

I have heard some great things about the Denton scene (courtesy of our recent transplant friends from Shiny Around The Edges) and this CD just confirmed that. I wouldn't mind catching Zest of Yore at a live show if they do tour... great stuff.

- review by RABBIT (5.19.04)        

Snapping Turtle Media
P.O. Box 16076
Austin, TX 78761

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