Zero Boys – Vicious Circle Zero Boys – Vicious Circle

zero boys-vicious circle

zero boys-vicious circle

As much as I love hardcore punk, good lord it all sounds the same. And while one could argue that Zero Boys have a different perspective and take on the genre since they sprouted out of Indianapolis, a place where there was virtually no punk scene to speak of, as opposed to the hotbeds of DIY activity in D.C. or Southern California, if you played punk in ’81 and you were under 20, chances are you sounded like Minor Threat.

While this is true of a majority of the songs from Vicious Circle, their only full-length release from 1981 that gets reissued this year on Secretly Canadian, Zero Boys’ strongest moments are when they cull from influences other than that year’s Dischord and SST releases. “Tryin’ Harder,” “Hightime,” and “She Said Goodbye” have the pop song sensibilities of the Ramones with revved-up tempos, the latter showcasing singer Paul Z’s ability to sound like a younger and more pissed off Jonny Ramone. And the Stones-y rock n’ roll rhythms of “Livin’ in the 80’s” are pretty refreshing, though it raises questions about their intentions when that same song includes the lines “Don’t wanna hear no more ‘bout Mick Jagger’s old bones.” Even when they pull from stock hardcore sentiments on songs like “Drug Free Youth” and “Civilization’s Dying,” their approach is comparatively more light-hearted than their peers, with the band shouting in the chorus of the latter, “For the Pope! And the President! And the big rock star who made a lot of money! All got one thing in common/ They know it ain’t no fun/ to get shot with a gun.” And there are a few splashes of local color here and there, as Paul Z warns, “This is the big city/ Not the safe Midwest,” in “Dirty Alleys, Dirty Minds.”

What’s important is that Vicious Circle makes for a pretty fun listen, having more in common with the Descendants than with Minor Threat, though splitting the difference pretty evenly between those two. And Kudos to Secretly Canadian, as Zero Boys may have unjustly slipped through the cracks without them.

-Michael Squeri

Zero Boys - Vicious Circle, reviewed by Squeri on 2009-04-19T23:59:12-07:00 rating 3.7 out of 5

Comments are closed.