Singer Jimmy Starr and bassist Miki Tabakovic originally formed ZigZag America 16 years ago. In the ensuing years that followed, Starr and Tabakovic would see several musicians enter and leave ZigZag America while trying to find the right combination and chemistry for the band. Eventually Tabakovic would switch to guitar, and the two would recruit Jake Schaffer on bass and Beau Garrow on drums. Before long, the band started playing all over the Tampa Bay area. With every new gig the band played, ZigZag America built up both their fan base and reputation.
On August 8th, 16 years after the original formation of ZigZag America, the band released their debut CD titled “.COM”. Recorded at Smoke and Mirrors Productions, .COM features 12 of ZigZag America’s original songs including “Speed Demon”, “Come On Over”, “Baby Where Ya Goin’ Now”, “Coming Back To You”, “So Close”, “Who Made War”, “Life After Death”, “Now A Day’s”, “Thinking”, “Save It”, “What I Hate”, and a live version of “Stand”.
Following the recording of the album, and prior to the release, Garrow would part ways with the band, being replaced on drums by Bobby Walker... hence the reason why Garrow is credited on the CD.
.COM starts off with the hard-hitting, fast paced “Speed Demon”, giving the listener a good indication of what is to be expected from the rest of the CD. The hard hitting sound continues for the next two tracks, “Come On Over” and “Baby Where Ya Goin’ Now”.
The fourth track on the CD, “Coming Back To You”, is the first ballad featured on the CD. However, a ZigZag America ballad is by no means your stereotypical, sappy power ballad. As evident in “Coming Back To You”, ZigZag America ballads pack a little backbone in them.
The fifth track, “So Close”, starts out with Schaffer’s infectiously haunting bass line. Before long, Garrow’s drums kick in along with Tabakovic’s guitar, giving the song a uniquely twisted reggae-like sound to the song. The lyrics in “So Close” give a vivid story-like description of a war-torn landscape.
The seventh track on the CD, “Life After Death”, starts out with a mellow, subdued bass line before erupting into a heavy guitar riff.
Much like “Life After Death", the eighth track on the CD, “Now A Days”, starts out with a beautiful ballad like acoustical intro, before once again erupting into a heavy guitar riff. Starr’s vocals, along with Schaffer’s bass line, leads to the song having a very haunting melody. Add to it Barrow’s intricate drumming on the song, “Now A Days” is a freshly unique song.
The ninth track on the CD, “Thinking”, is another ballad, and probably the most commercial and radio ready song on the album. According to Starr, the lyrics to “Thinking” were originally inspired by a poem that Starr’s daughter had written. The chorus of the song has a definite anthem like, sing-along feel to it that one can not get out of their head. After playing this song to a couple of people who never heard ZigZag America before, they both stated that it had a Guns N’ Roses feel to it.... circa "GNR Lies” era. When performed live, “Thinking” always gets greeted with a huge reception from the audience. During a live, in-studio interview with the band on WPRN 102.1 fm in Tampa a few months ago, the band performed an unplugged version of “Thinking” that literally almost brought tears to the eyes of some of the audience that were in attendance. The CD's electric version of the song still contains much of the magic that their acoustic version possesses. In my opinion, “Thinking” should be in heavy rotation on every local radio station in the Tampa Bay area, if it is not already!
“Thinking” is followed up on the CD with two more heavier songs, “Save It” and “What I Hate”. “What I Hate” is the heaviest and hardest song on the CD. “What I Hate” possesses a very dark, Sabbath-like feel to it that eventually melds into a hard-hitting song with rapid-fire kick-drum beats and guitar riffs, along with growling background vocals.
The CD closes with a live version of ZigZag America’s “Stand”. Much like “Thinking”, “Stand” is another radio-ready ballad with anthem-like lyrics, vocals and guitar riff. The band couldn’t have chosen a better song to have a live version done of on the CD... It’s the perfect song to wrap up the CD with.
Part of what makes .COM unique, as well as what makes ZigZag America unique, is Jimmy Starr’s lead vocals. Without a doubt Starr possesses a unique and powerful voice. Starr’s vocals have a very modern rock sounding tone to them, and when melded with the hard rock style of the rest of the band, it makes for a very unique, original sound.
All-in-all, .Com is an impressive debut album for a local, unsigned Tampa Bay band. ZigZag America comes across as a heavier band on the album then they do live, on-stage. The only negative thing I can find about .COM is that it doesn't fully capture the energy and magic that ZigZag America possesses when performing live, on-stage, and in front of an audience. I believe that part of the reason for this lies in the final mixing of the CD. Though a very good CD, I feel the final mixing could have been done better, and would have better captured the bands live energy that they have become known for.
Zig Zag America will be performing live on Saturday, September 21st at the "Bionics For Vets Concert" at the Local 662 in downtown St. Petersburg. Click here for more information on the concert.
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