Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
You would be missing a lot if you listened only to Zlam Dunk's instrumental work and ignored the Austin band's chants and rave-ups, you know, what they're actually singing about. Its post-hardcore musical values are decidedly more angsty and fraught with moodiness - even with the tendency to introduce punk, ska and surf tones into it - than the lyrical content, which serves to make the body of work that is the group's latest album, "Nobel Ancestry," all the more of an interesting adventure piece. The songs thrash and they get wild and out-of-control often, giving us the feel of a swerving motorcycle, running at an incredible rate of speed, with a helmetless driver atop the seat and at the handlebars, careless with his body and its safety. Zlam Dunk acts rapidly, hurling itself through the air and across the ground in a way that's slightly manic, but it produces a sense of true urgency in music that should be heard as full-blooded and bloodied, the kind of collection of songs that could have been inspired by bouts of youthful rebelliousness. They are hot moments, times that are spurred on and inflamed by the languishing of time and effort, the wasting of days and the uncertainty of whether or not any of that is ever going to change. It's what we hear in the music, but when we hear the many voices of the members of Zlam Dunk, all chiming in at some point - often all at once, doubling and tripling the sentiments, we hear the sounds of folks just trying to have themselves a good ass time. It's music that seems to kiss summer days on the lips. "Not Stoked (Prime Time Killings)," sounds like an ode to the beach and everything that's loved about the steamy months of the year. They sing about feeling alright, killing people with water guns and surfing, as well as offering the line, "Summertime/Milk shake/California/Earthquake." It sounds more carefree than it's worth. We might as well just all be fine, all happy and all out on the lawn in our bare feet, running through the sprinklers, as the boys next door are tearing it up in their garage.