Unearthing a hip new band in Austin has almost become sort of a cliche, as new acts tend to pop up around this town faster than a whack-a-mole, and more often than not the result is sub-par. It is, therefore, such a rare and joyful occasion when one pops up in a way that makes you want to actually give a shit. Zykos is one of these bands. Zykos makes you want to give a shit. Granted, they have been around since 2003 and have actually released two full length albums (Comedy Horn and Zykos, both from 2004), but they've also managed to stay relatively below the radar on any sort of national scale. Their newest release, the EP Keep It Light, I am proud to say, delivers on the promise of those first two albums and even manages to build up a little bit more hype to their name.
Following the instructiveness of its title, the album clocks in at nigh more than 16 minutes. During this time though, they choose to keep the songwriting and craftsmanship anything but light as the tight, poetic tracks keep an even split between light pop fun and heavy emotive melodrama.
The first track, "What You Know" hits quick with enough catchy melody and piano rhythm to make Britt Daniel start shaking in his indie pop boots. Following close behind that is third track "Race Rabbit." With a nice enough alt country sound to start off, the track quickly delves into a very sweet romp through a warm Saturday afternoon. Hand claps, female harmonies and an ending that feels upliftingly improvised ensue. When Zykos swings for the feel good pop music, they connect. On the reverse of this is the other half of the EP, a darker, moody movement. "October Rain" is like a full album of its own and Mike Roeder's opening bass line might be to thank for your initial interest, oddly compelling. His presence is felt again on the title track; a sweet and sentimental record that tugs at all the right strings. But no matter how well the instrumentation works the thing we're always left with on this EP is frontman Mike Booher's vocals, and they are definitely something special to be left with. Oddly entertaining in its gravelly growl, but at the same time filled with something very sweet and heartfelt. There is no track this is felt more on than the title track.
So for the first offering in four years I can say Zykos has done a bang up job creating a release with no fat. Everything is tight in all the right places. One thing I will say though is... come on. Four tracks in four years? True, it's about 400% more than I've done, but you're a real band. I'm just a poser.
MP3 Download - "Race Rabbit"