TAB The Band – Zoo Noises

January 01, 1970

(North Street)



There’s reasons to be both cheerful and apprehensive about
TAB The Band’s new long-player, and while lazy reviewers inevitably preface
their commentary on the group by bringing up its musical lineage – guitar/bass
wielding brothers Tony and Adrian Perry’s pop is Aerosmith’s Joe Perry –
neither category seems particularly pertinent to the discussion here. By the
time you release your third album you pretty much live or die by your own axe (even
though if you come from a famous family you can still get your cock sucked
pretty quickly in L.A. or NYC).


Besides, the Boston-area band has been forging an intriguing
rock ‘n’ roll pedigree since coming together in 2006. Their early,
home-recorded EPs as a trio were the sound of a punk-bred outfit, and they
found themselves amassing enough indie cred to tour with fellow volume dealer
Dinosaur Jr; as they became more comfortable in the studio (to this day they
are self-produced), their sound got progressively slicker – they expanded to a
quartet in 2008 – and alarm bells went off among certain segments of their
fanbase when they went out on tour with Stone Temple Pilots that same year.


For Zoo Noises,
however, they’ve not yet jumped the
musical shark, and thankfully so. Though indie, TAB’s hardly indie rock in the
vernacular sense; Vampire Weekend fans may recoil, but lovers of, say, vintage
Faces, Stones and Led Zeppelin will discover kindred spirits in the brothers
Perry, drummer Ben Tileson and guitarist/keyboardist Lou Jannetty. After a
slightly humorous acoustic guitar/hummed vocals opening, TAB kicks into the fuzz-laden
crunch of “Be My Valentine,” powered by Tileson’s Bonzo-like percussion. That’s
followed by a pair of equally heavy rockers: the Cheap Trick boogie of “Bought
and Sold,” with Adrian uncannily channeling Robin Zander; and the
glammyriffysexy “I’ll Be Waiting,” a marriage of Rolling Stones and T. Rex, right
down to the English accented singing.


Other songs, likewise, summon images of rock icons past, and
convincingly so. Speaking of the Stones, “She Said No (I Love You)” tears a
page out of the Beggars Banquet/Let It
songbook, from the acoustic guitars and bongo percussion to the
Jaggeresque lead drawl and the Keef-styled high-pitched backing vocals. “Old
Folks Home” tips a bowler hat to the Gary Glitter school of glam, what with its
whomping, bassline, and massed-chorus vocals; for all you trainspotters, the
guitar figure nods more in the direction of Norman Greenbaum’s fuzz-centric
“Spirit in the Sky” than Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2).” And “A Girl Like
You,” an uptempo slice of acoustic folk arranged for mandolin, dulcimer and
guitar, recalls the way folks like Plant and Page, Richard Thompson and Ronnie Lane toted Appalachia to Britannia.


It’s when TAB The Band revisits what are presumably its
formative roots though, that Zoo Noises flounders. There’s Sunset Strip hair metal in the swaggering bubblegum metal of
“Left For Dead In Hilton Head,” the much-loathed Stone Temple Pilots in the
macho wallop of “On Course,” Oasis in the tepid jangle-pop anthemism of “Run
Away” and Black Crowes in the faux-Southern twang-rock of “I Don’t Mind If You
Cry.” And while having trans-generational influences is generally healthy for
any band, these track-by-track juxtapositions of style become jarring to the
point of off-putting over the course of 16 songs.


In a review it may seem damning an artist with faint praise
to suggest that listeners should download this or that track and ignore others,
but for Zoo Noises it’s likely you’ll
come down on either a ‘60s/’70s side or a late ‘80s/early ‘90s side of the
fence when deciding what you like and don’t like about the band. Just the same,
there’s tons of potential here. It’s not necessarily what’s in the DNA that counts; it’s what you do with it.


Standout Tracks: “She
Said No (I Love You)”, “Old Folks Home” FRED MILLS




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