Zeus – Busting Visions

written by: March 13, 2012
Release Date: March 27th, 2012


When asked a few years ago what his favorite emerging bands were, Keith Richards claimed that he couldn’t name any in particular, “Because it wouldn’t be fair on the others” but did grant, “The less manufactured it is, the more I like it.” That cloudy blanket statement leaves much to be desired but suffice to say, Zeus stands a chance. Busting Visions is a collection of songs palatable upon first listen—but get better successively just to spite. There are riffs fuzzier than sasquatch, hooks catchy to a fault and (sorry, just too tempting) punishingly thunderous grooves. The Toronto quartet, guided by Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson have been around for some time, first as the backing band to Jason Collett, now to Bahamas as well. This marks the Arts and Craftsmen’s second full-length and already they’ve come out from moonlighting, guns blazing.

The band combines a delightful ear for melodies and songmanship with a playfulness and charisma that is hard to come by in today’s industry. The term Beatlesque has been thrown around quite a lot and that’s a tricky classification because it’s hard to separate when that means “multi-layered, harmonious, tastefully experimental” album and when it means “great rock record that sounds like something the Beatles would do.” What’s the difference? Busting Visions is just enough like a lost Beatles album to be unoriginal, it’s got quite a bit of old rock and roll in it. If that sounds terribly unfair, it is, because this is a great record. A few of the great albums of the modern age have garnished the title, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and OK Computer—but for very different reasons, each accomplishing enough on its own terms to be dangerous, to be exciting and to keep listeners coming back to it.

Lest Busting Visions be lumped in with one group of Liverpudlians, know that it carries the greater sound of the British Invasion, you can spot-reference The Kinks, Hollies and Zombies throughout—splayed in a modern context. There are elements of doo-wop on “Love In A Game,” right down to the tape-delayed microphone. “Anything You Want Dear” with its gyrating guitar line and tongue-in-cheek lyricism “Like a hand that’s strapped with leather/ Holding on the tether” sounds like a T. rex homage. One detractor, given the diverse scope of the album, is that it ends up a tad on the long side, with fourteen tracks combining for forty-four minutes. Not to say it’s a waste of time because it’s a swingin’ forty-four—just a big one.

There’s another dichotomy that’s painful/awesome. One: singer Neil Quinn has a phenomenal set of frontman’s pipes, melding passion, bravado and a keen ear. The let down is that, despite having three songwriters in the band (not to mention three superb musicians), they can’t seem to write a lyric that’s anything more than goofy or singalongable. So you have songs that could be huge, emotionally-charged rockers and instead you have ornamentation, a near parody of a classic rock song, sung with all the same conviction! Opener “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” is the prime example of this. It’s still early on in the game though, folks. Remember that not only is this a collection of musicians accustomed to a support role but a group of musicians on their second album. And what a luminous effort it makes in and of itself. There can be no question whether or not this record lets the good times roll.

Zeus – Busting Visions tracklist:

  1. “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?”
  2. “Love/Pain”
  3. “Anything You Want Dear”
  4. “Let It Go, Don’t Let It Go”
  5. “Strong Mind”
  6. “Bright Brown Opus”
  7. “Love in a Game”
  8. “With Eyes Closed”
  9. “Hello Tender Love”
  10. “Messenger’s Way”
  11. “Proud and Beautiful”
  12. “Stop the Train”
  13.  “Cool Blue (And the Things You Do)”
  14. “Now That I’ve Got You