Zebrahead, formed back in the 90s when members left their original groups to form a new band, showing bravery from the outset. They are a band for taking risks and have been that way through their many years together, and more so now than ever with the release of The Early Years – Revisited. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: a reimagining of their early songs, re-recorded and freshly pressed for fans new and old.
The Orange County boys use this novel concept to open up their sound and play to their strengths; opener Check does just that. Bite and belligerence, appetite and feistiness are all maintained from the original, against rock/rap lyrics and heavy metal guitars. There’s even a small hint towards jazz as the track opens up and genres fly around in a haze of chaos – a strange but very listenable track.
Get Back continues the sound with its juttering guitar intro setting the pace. Think Sublime, but heavier and with more depth. Someday shows where Sum41 got their riffs and base for their music, whereas Playmate of the Year – being one of the most well known tracks – is perfectly accessible for newbie’s, being one of the most melodic Ameri-punk tracks on the record, featuring a rich and sunny disposition.
In areas the record can still seem a little dated, even with the re-recordings. To be fair, this was always going to be a concern, but the band, to the best of their ability, have in most cases managed to drag it kicking and screaming into the present. Rescue Me is testament to this with its hard-hitting chorus, sounding fresh and consistent to the original.
It’s a surprise that bonus track Sex, lies and Audiotape is one of the standout efforts on the record, and leaves you wondering why an album of new material wasn’t just looked at as an alternative. It shows the band still know how to write a good tune; its strong beats push the track along against its punk rock atmosphere, and finely tuned slowdowns and stops offer something against the tailored shouty shouty vocals.
Overall the album fairs well throughout, but it still raises the question of whether or not it was needed. New material might have been the way forward – but perhaps the band wanted to remind people of past glories before tackling a new album. It’s a fresh slice of nostalgia that will appeal to many, and give the listener a taste for something new.