Positronic Raygun - (1998)
1998's Positronic Raygun is a mixed bag. Although Zen's overall mission statement (regurgitating post-MC5 proto-psych-punk-blues for the unsuspecting "me" generation) and signature sound (guitars set on maximum fuzz distortion, frenetic drums, and Marcus Durant's crazed, echo-laden screams) were already pretty much intact, the Delaware group's songwriting wasn't yet entirely up to snuff. Manic instrumental opener "Saucerships to Ragtime" sets the wild, warped (and weird) tone outright, and the re-recorded old single "Trouble Shake," with its insistent shouts to "Wake up in the morning," is certain to rouse even the sleepiest of listeners, maybe even get them to testify. The bluesy piano/harmonica intermission "Roachman" provides a short breather before segueing into further slabs of raucous, unrestrained lunacy, including "Empty Heart," "She's Radar," and the excellent "Tomato Cup," which cleverly disfigures the classic "Dust My Broom" slide riff into near-oblivion. Finally, confirming that they are far from a one-trick pony, Zen Guerrilla whips out the gentle blues ballad "Healing in the Water" as a final reprieve, leading up to the album's soothing denouement a few songs later via the soul loop outro "Frequency Out."