Zan ZonE



From Russell Trunk’s Exclusive Magazine


The album opens on the brilliant late ’90s alt-rock of Bad Dreams (which actually recalls the disturbing uncertainty of lockdowns, quarantines and ecological destruction), and the R.E.M.-esque title track Start Where You Stand and follows those up with the melodic rock of Watchin’ The World Go By, the soaringly euphoric I Won’t Live A Lie, and then come both the rhythmically structured instrumental Extinction: Rebellion and the ’70s-imbibed rocker Baby Cried.

Next up is the punchy THAT and the languishing AOR of One Step Ahead Of The Red and they are themselves backed by the jaunty Extinction: Romp, the free flowing alt-pop rhythms within Survival, the album rounding out with the heartfelt outreach of Hot & Cold, coming to a close on the rhythmic pop-rock bounce of Holdin’ You Tight.   7/22

From on-line music site:

Let It Rock

Contemplating society’s next steps and mapping out its route, New York ensemble draw new lines in the sand.
While most artists found the pandemic-related downtime conducive to creative reflection, this bunch of Brooklynites felt existential angst and anger fill their veins: indeed, the world has moved on since 2018’s "It's Only Natural" laced joie de vivre with sweet sadness, and the band had to accept the past and assess the present in order to grasp the future. What resulted is a sharp, though extremely soulful, sociopolitical album that will grab the listener by the lapels and then either shout difficult truths in the fan’s face or kiss those who came in for a treat of a song – old and new, red-hot and blue. Some of the pieces on display waited for more than two decades to become relevant and be aired, but it was worth it.

So when Philip Dessinger’s statement of “All of my life I’ve been tryin’ to get away / From the things in which I don’t believe” kicks off the flamenco-esque “I Won’t Live A Lie” – one of the numbers dating back to the ’90s – it’s clear: that retreat into obscure references is not an option for this group, and even the tempo-shifting instrumentals “Extinction: Rebellion” and “Extinction: Romp” – the former a prog-rock flight, the latter a rocking jaunt – enhance the sense of urgency rather than soothe or smooth the edges. That’s why Zan Burnham’s intimate tone and mercurial guitar in the intense opener “Bad Dreams” dissolve gloom in a hypnotic, nervously scintillating tune, and once Angela Watson Modeste’s vulnerable vocals are woven into such a strange lullaby fears seem to set in, too, yet the title track is where riffs and pleas pose simple solemnity to drive the cut’s arresting, anthem-like refrain away from rage and closer to hope. And that’s why the warm funk of “Watchin’ The World Go By” has fierceness written all over its middle part, a bass-spanked, concrete-jungle chant, as opposed to the exquisitely countrified “Baby Cried” – voiced solely by Ms. Modeste – and “THAT” with their electric mellifluous spirituality and acoustic, rousing jive.

But then, the start-stop, robust blues behind “One Step Ahead Of The Red” changes the record’s dynamics again and force-feeds the ensemble’s followers with pride before “Survival” offers an effervescent shuffle as a way out of our current mess, and “Hot & Cold” goes for resonant, romantic, self-deprecating humor – as does the reggae-shaped “Holdin’ You Tight” to serve up the platter’s finale. This is the embrace we’re all in need (of), and “Start Where You Stand” provides the encouragement that many of us require, making it the perfect album for here and now – and, actually, for ever.
*****5 Stars


Music Street Journal - Music News & Reviews  7/2022

Non-Prog CD Review
Zan Zone
Start Where You Stand

Review by Gary Hill

I have previously reviewed a couple of other discs from this act. I think this one might be better than both of those. It has a lot in common from the fact that it has both male and female vocals and a sound that really stretches pretty wide and touches on progressive rock at point. It just seems more successful and mature and perhaps a little more focused.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Bad Dreams
I really love the guitar interplay on the introduction to this. It works up toward proggy zones. The cut works out from there into a classy guitar rocker that has a lot of drama. There are some more prog-like elements at play at times.


Start Where You Stand
More hard rocking, this isn't really metal, but it's not far from it. I love pretty much everything about this song, but the guitar solo is purely on fire. This is a plea for world peace.


Watchin' The World Go By
Another edgy and yet catchy hard rocking tune, this has some great hooks a lot of style. There is an unusual art music section mid-track where it drops back to percussive elements with almost Zappa-like vocals and some strange things added to the mix at times. It turns toward hip hop as that section continues. It comes back out into the rocking section after a time. After a "bye bye," it seems the song has ended. A short instrumental reprises rises up actually finish it.


I Won't Live A Lie
Here we get another hard rocking tune that has some great hooks and power. This has some interesting twists and turns and works really well. It's a killer number.


Extinction: Rebellion
The guitar work as this gets underway is crazed and so cool. The jam that ensues has an almost metal angle, but is also very King Crimson-like. This instrumental is very proggy and very cool.


Baby Cried
The lead vocals on this one are of the female variety. The cut has a bluesy rocking sound and really works well. This isn't what I'd call groundbreaking. It is, however, particularly effective and potent.


This makes good usage of both the male and female vocals. The song structure and arrangement are both inventive. The number is one of the more challenging and proggy things here. It's also dramatic. 


One Step Ahead Of The Red
A blues rock arrangement with some tasty guitar soloing makes up the introduction. This works forward with that basic concept as it gets into the vocal movement. The tune builds on that hard rock informed by the blues angle to make up the rest of it. It's quite effective.


Extinction: Romp
Another instrumental, this has more an acoustic rock arrangement. I'm reminded of Led Zeppelin to some degree. Claps are a nice addition to the rhythm section for a time. There is some particularly intricate guitar work built into this.
This is hard-edged, but also melodic and somewhat catchy at times. Given the darkness of the lyrical content, it feels ironic that this seems that accessible and almost fun. There are some Beatles-like hints at times, even.


Hot & Cold
Dark and hard-edged, this lands more along the lines of power-ballad zones in some ways. If there's a song I'd skip here, it's this one. It has some things about that don't seem to work as well to me, feeling a little awkward. That said, it's not the whole song, and there are other parts that elevate. Still, I'd consider this the weakest track here. It is inventive, though. There is some killer guitar work on the later parts of this. The song ends abruptly.

Holdin' You Tight
With female lead vocals, this has more of a mainstream pop rock sound at its core. There are hints of jazz, country and more on this. The number doesn't feel like it really fits here, but it is a strong piece of music.





It has been four years since Zan Burnham and the band released ‘It’s Only Natural’, and they are back with another collection of pop numbers which sees them pay homage to Todd Rundgren, David Byrne and classic 10CC while bringing in rock, power pop and even prog (I mean, any album which features theremin must have prog in their somewhere, right?) to create something which at times is very experimental and others straight commercial.


The concept is simple in some ways, as the rhythm section of Saadi Zain (fingered electric and acoustic bass) and Marko Djordjevic (drums and percussion) lay the bedrock for Zan to then place his guitars, picked bass, percussion and theremin, and then he and the three other singers (Angela Watson Modeste, Zan’s daughter Arianna, and Philip Dessinger). Since the last album Zan’s wife Marilyn Lisa Feldman died, and this is dedicated to her.


Zan has a way of crafting wonderful songs and arrangements which really do cut across a myriad of styles, yet they always contain wonderful hooks which make them so easy to listen to, and the more the album is played the more there is to discover. We get some wonderful guitar-led instrumentals, where Zan allows himself some room to show just what he can do, while some numbers have female led vocals which again moves the music in very different directions. This is rock/pop music without barriers, going wherever the muse leads yet always staying true to the melody and the hook without sacrificing anything on the altar of auto tune or following the herd.


This is the third album of theirs I have heard, and yet again it is hard to understand why they are not more well-known as this is a delightful collection of music, real music, which has real soul and presence. It may have taken four years for this to come out, and there have been a few changes in the line-up, but this is a worthy follow-up to the last album and is yet again something which lovers of proper songs with a pop rock bent really do need to discover.