On ‘The Zoo at Night,’ The Jesus Rehab Defies Categorization—That’s a Good Thing

The Jesus Rehab, The Zoo at Night (out Feb. 1, self-released)

To the consumer, words like pop, soul, punk, country, rap, grunge, metal, dubstep, hip-hop, rock, new wave, and anything with the -core suffix can elicit a smile, a frown, a smirk, or just good old-fashioned indifference. Without those categories, chaos would reign in the music market. And yet what’s great about The Zoo at Night is its ability to defy labels. As soon as you think you’ve figured out The Jesus Rehab, it takes a turn in a completely different direction.

The album opens with “Mind Readers,” which prominently features a Pantera-level overdriven guitar riff and a wailing vocal delivery leading you to think OK, this is gonna be a hard-rock deal. The next two songs, “Lickin’ My Wounds” and “Evil Eye,” find the guitar gain turned down a bit, bringing us square into the realm of White Stripes–esque garage rock. From there it’s straight into indie land, with the next three numbers sounding something akin to Wilco, Elliott Smith, and of Montreal, respectively. The latter end of The Zoo at Night wades into full-tilt Strokes mode before concluding with the meandering “Vertigo,” which very well may be the demon offspring of Tool, Television, and Velvet Underground.

The Jesus Rehab, or more specifically brothers Jared and Dominic Cortese, have done something that all good bands do: By sounding like so many disparate sources, they end up sounding distinct. At the end of the day, it might be easy to just call this a rock record, but that’s just a cop-out. How about indiegarmetalcore? (Sunset, Feb. 1)

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