I make no apologies for the fact that I have been banging the Zeigler Co. drum ever since I first came across them back in June. On that night at The Flapper I saw them put on what was an incredibly slick and impressive performance while I was and still am a massive fan of their last record Roll Up, so this new release has been greeted by nothing but excitement from me. Ok, that’s a lie I was little nervous too, I really wanted to be impressed by this new EP, after all there is nothing worse than when a band you like releases an absolute brick.
Much to my relief this isn’t the case, Messrs Morgan, Priddle and Rieley have picked up exactly where they left off on Roll Up. It feels like I have just met up with an old friend, we will now spend the night in our local drinking brandy in front of the log fire, there’s something very comforting and very familiar about the whole thing.
Having said all of that the opening track ‘The Recluse’ isn’t quite what I was expecting; it’s still Ziegler Co but with a few little tweaks. The old school rock n roll feel remains, but this time around it carries more of a swagger. Like a lot of the EP this track is like a throwback to a bygone era, the band seem to have managed to take an old sound, put their own spin on it leaving it sounding classic but at the same time fresh and exciting.
‘Old Friend’ sees the return of the type of vocal harmonising that was such a feature of their last record. The addition of a piano which pops up intermittently for the last minute and a half of the song is also a nice touch, it just gives the song something extra to make it that little bit different.
Penultimate track ‘What Was Her Name’ is my favourite track on the EP, its classic Ziegler Co from start to finish. For the most part it’s as smooth as you like, apart from the occasional crash, bang, wallop thrown in just to make sure than you’re still paying attention. One of the things which drew me to this band in the first place was that they have a knack for a great turn of phrase in their song writing, and it’s nice to hear that this knack hasn’t deserted them as I really liked;
Clouds like funeral wreaths… a voice like a car crash
That might seem pretty simple written down but that’s the beauty of it, it’s simple enough but so much more imaginative than most of the stuff being put out at the minute. The gentle laid back melodies are a delight and again the vocal harmonising puts even more gloss on what is this record’s outstanding track.
Gentle echoing handclaps signal the start of final track ‘Fuss’ where the smooth vocal and subtle guitar melody lead the way. A song about death and murder
The murder of a hero is never easy to take
May not be the most uplifting of notes to finish your EP on but it works, the understated guitar work amongst what is at times pretty sparse production is a definite highlight.
As I pressed play I had really high hopes for this record and I have to say that it delivered on every level. You’re never going to hear Ziegler Co on mainstream radio but part of me really doesn’t want to, they feel like our little secret. I’m yet to come across another ‘current’ band who make music like these guys and that is a large part of their appeal, they know their unconventional lane and they have completely embraced it.
If you love your rock n roll of the real old school variety with clever song writing and beautifully subtle melodies then you need this record in your life. And if you can’t appreciate those things and all of the other little intricacies that make up Portraiture then you my friend are missing out.
Just a note for those of you who like details, Luke Patterson plays drums on tracks 1,2,3 and Peter Radcliff picks up the sticks for track 4. Portraiture is out now.