April 30, 2009

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Hot Day at the Zoo, Long Way Home EP
self-released, 2008

Politely behaved acoustic folkie-alkie-country jam-band HDATZ is from Lowell, a fallen industrial whistle-stop that’s now affectionately renowned as a giant biohazard teeming with teenage gang-members from unlivable countries, pathologically hot-tempered flakes, and 8-foot-long man-eating worms. No wonder, given this environment, that HDATZ are unplugged; what they really are, deep down, in spite of all the subdued yee-haw bluegrass, is a cross between Barenaked Ladies and Phish, but the neighbors are undoubtedly not the type upon which one would want to test loud things.

Like anyone who’s ever gotten lost on the way to Kimball’s Ice Cream and ended up in Lowell, the bandmembers are, to a man, permanently damaged, but through art they’re able to cauterize their wounds: their banjo-bustin’ “Gypsy Moon” renders Lowell as Utopia as imagined by Edgar Allen Poe (apparently they’re unfamiliar with Lovecraft, a more apropos craftsman).

Moving right along, “Lost” hits up Hank Williams III, and “Outside Lookin In” rolls out the old-time Bob Dylan beer-goggles singalongs. For now, the New Hampshire legs of their tour put them at Dover’s Barley House on May 2 and Penuches in Manchester on June 20. AEric W. Saeger