Tag: Single Review: Library Voices Zzyx

Comprised of Brennan Ross (vocals, guitar, and bass), Michael Thieven (drums), Carl Johnson (guitar, vocals), Michael Dawson (lyrics, keys), Amanda Scandrett (keys) and Paul Guthrell (saxophone), the Regina, Saskatchewan-based sextet Library Voices are a collective of childhood friends, who grew up going to basement shows and obsessed with sci-fi.

Several months of relentless and exhausting touring to support Summer of Lust came to a head in what the band describes as “one of the saddest hostels in Amsterdam.” The next day, during a tour stop in Paris, hundred of rats swarmed their tour van. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the tour quickly went south — and when the band returned to Regina, they all decided that they needed some time apart.

After a two year hiatus, the members of the Canadian sextet reconvened and began working on the material that would comprise their forthcoming effort Lovish, which is slated for a November 6 release through Nevado Music. And much like the band’s previous efforts, the album was recorded in an old funeral home and was mixed by Dave Plowman and Alex Bonenfant, who have worked with METZ, Crystal Castles, and July Talk.

Adding to a period of incredibly difficult luck, during the recording sessions for Lovish, the band’s frontman Carl Johnson was jumped, beaten unconscious by a random assailant.  Johnson suffered a severe concussion, a hematoma (blood pooling) in his brain, a loss of smell, and a very difficult and long road to recovery. For a few months, it remained uncertain if Johnson would be able to continue to write and perform music and it left the band and the album in a state of limbo, in which they all feared their work may never see the light of day.  Eventually Johsnon was able to contribute seven songs to the album while bandmate Brennan Ross contributed and took up vocal duties on the remaining four.

The band’s latest single “Zzyx” is actually inspired by an incredible, seemingly improbable yet true story. As legend has it, in 1944 a radio evangelist and self-proclaimed doctor started squatting in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He recruited a number of Skid Row bums to build a 60 room mineral spa, complete with a church, a radio station and an airstrip. He named the compound “Zzyx,” the last word in the English dictionary, referring to it as the “last word in health,” and he dubbed the airstrip, the Zyport.

Incredibly, the radio evangelist remained on the property selling phony medicinal remedies and potions and scamming gullible senior citizens for the better part of over 25 years — until the federal government evicted him from the land. And as the band notes in press notes, Lovish‘s latest single was written as an ode to a strange place, where people were desperate to believe in something and desperate to live forever.

Although in press notes, it says that the band’s sound has been described by some media outlets as having elements of surf rock to my ears that seems incredibly off, as their sound seems to sound as though it draws a bit more from glam rock, proto-punk, power pop and U2 as the song possesses an emotional immediacy and urgency around anthemic hooks, power chords, enormous blasts of horns, and earnest vocals. I’ve played this song a number of times, and every time I can picture a sweaty room of young people yelling along to the chorus, and feeling as though the song speaks deeply and passionately to them about their lives — and with a forceful honesty.

He chose the name Zzyzx with the intent that it would be the last word in the English language, referring to it as “the last word in health”. When you arrive to the location today it looks more like the DHARMA Initiative basecamp in the television show Lost. We all want to live forever. We are all dying to believe in something.