When I took a listen to “Needle,” the opening track of Notes from Needle (Part 1) from L.A. indie-rock outfit Zweng, the first few notes instantly arrested my attention. (That’s a good sign.)
The thing about indie-rock is not even that it comes in so many styles, but also that it comes on so many levels of experimentation. That’s something to celebrate, but the down side is that there are so many bands who are so busy experimenting that a lot of the music is coming out muddled, inaccessible to most people. Too many indie bands just aren’t “hitting the pocket,” as I like to put it.
Make no mistake–Zweng hits the pocket. Dead on.
The musical arrangements on this three-song EP are diverse and highly creative, but still very accessible and interesting to listen to. Ryan Zweng’s voice, the dominant feature on the EP, reminds me a lot of Brian Gibb of Death Cab for Cutie; but the lyrics are a bit darker, more direct and poignant, and the music itself is more raw. Every one of the three songs sounds quite different from the others, but it’s obvious the same band is playing them. With strong songwriting, solid musicianship and melodies that stick in your head, Zweng really hits the mark with this effort.
I get that the whole indie thing is supposed to break from the norms and not have any real “rules” to it–but listening to this record, I can’t help but think that this sets some sort of standard. If indie-rock is “supposed” to be anything in particular, I’d think it would be this.
As the title of the EP suggests, Notes from Needle (Part 1) is the first of three upcoming EP releases that are intended to comprise a full-length record when taken together. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the rest of it to come out, for the time being you can download the EP for free from Zweng’s Bandcamp site.
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