START WHERE YOU STAND - Reviews 2022
From Russell Trunk’s
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.
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.
Music Street Journal - Music News & Reviews 7/2022
Non-Prog CD Review
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: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.
Track by Track Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
From: THE PROGRESSOR
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.
Zan Zone - 'Start Where You Stand' (2022)
Zan Zone’s Start Where You Stand is a guitar-rock album that just gets things right, with loose elbows, urgent vocals, paused pathos, Americana carnival side-show barker’s guitar solos, and a big-screen fiery rock ‘n’ roll confessional groove.
Zan Zone, led by guitarist/vocalist (and main guy!) Zan Burnham, has been releasing albums and EPs since 1995. Start Where You Stand quite simply burns with classic rock fever. The first three songs join all the puzzle pieces of the glorious ’70s bands.
“Bad Dreams” conjures the melodic guitar drama of Lourie Wisefield-era Wishbone Ash, circa No Smoke Without Fire. The guitars sing with slow beauty and then erupt with great big (and joyous!) riffs. The vocals are two-fold: Zan sings lead with Angela Watson Modeste adding a harmony halo. Then, Philip Dessinger enters the vocal mix (with Arianna Burnham) to produce a rather nice Neil Young and Crazy Horse vibe. Lots of drama here.
Ditto for “Watching the World Go By,” which again, rocks like a pretty great Wishbone Ash tune — with a heaven-sent guitar solo that just makes any attentive cerebral cortex tingle. And there’s a nicely weird vocal interlude to boot before the searing guitars re-renter the groove, which glances at the (sort of) medieval rock of Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
The positive pulse continues. “I Won’t Live a Lie” begins with acoustic brush strokes, but suddenly morphs into a psych tune worthy of Love’s brilliant Forever Changes. There’s more dramatic guitar work that conjures the spirit of Arthur Lee. Big compliment, there! The same is true for the folky “Survival,” with its melodically enhanced color and cool late ’60s vibe.
“Extinction Rebellion” is a wonderful instrumental that has the complex clarity of a cuneiform-etched message, the moment after the discovery of that Rosetta Stone. Need I mention Wishbone Ash, again? The tune is (sort of) a SparkNotes summary of the extended jam “F.U.B.B.” at the end of their very fine There’s the Rub album. By the way (lest we forget!) thank you very much to the Saadi Zain and Marko Djordjevic engine room of bass and drums respectively.
That said, then things change. Angela Watson Modeste takes the lead vocal on “Baby Cried,” and the tone becomes slightly soulful, which conjures another dimension of the ’70s sound of bands like Joy of Cooking or Mother Earth (with Wisconsin native Tracy Nelson). The simply titled “That” continues with acoustic insistent (almost) funky sound with male and female intertwined voices, which circle a Jefferson Airplane full of
“volunteers” that never ever contemplated becoming a Starship, much less any thought about “building a city on rock ‘n’ roll.”
In truth, this is a very different sound from the earlier cuts, but to its credit, the tune has a wonderful acoustic guitar coda. But that’s all right because “One Step Ahead of the Red” could (almost) be a Pink Floyd blues-rock tune with a grudge against conformity – which of course, includes the mandatory emotive electric guitar solo that drips with David Gilmour’s extended fervor.
Oh my – “Extinction Romp” is an acoustic guitar-led instrumental that (as many albums did in the ’70s) creates a melodic unity, as it reprises a previous song. It’s a nice oasis amidst the rest of the album’s songs. Elsewhere, “Hot and Cold” flows like sweet rock ‘n’ roll lava, with yet another brimstone breathed guitar solo.
Then, “Holding You Tight” ends with an Angela vocal that’s a pleasure-cruise tune of a song, on a boat that just happens to have a pretty decent band on board. The song is a postage stamp on a letter sent to a dear far away friend.
As said, Start Where You Stand breathes with ’70s musical sentiment. It rocks, and it rolls. And it just gets things right, with those really nice loose elbows, urgent vocals, paused pathos, a cornucopia of Americana carnival side show barker’s guitar solos, and an always “forever young” big-screen fiery rock ‘n’ roll “bless me father” forever and a day confessional groove.
Overall this third album, Start Where You Stand, is the band's best melodic sound so far, highlighted by the vocal harmonies and an absorbing title track, for me the best song from this artist so far. Music interspersed with rock anthems including a terrific I Won't Live A Lie and a foreboding Survival. 7/10"
DJ Bob Prigmore - The Prog and Rock Show on Beat Route Radio - https://www.facebook.com/beatrouteradio
Zan Zone — Start Where You Stand (Bandcamp Random Axe #LPX005, 2022, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-08-20
It’s been a few years since the last Zan Zone release, It’s Only Natural (2018), with guitarist / composer / bandleader Zan Burnham’s six-piece delivering their latest, Start Where You Stand, after 38 months of writing, arranging, and recording. The band today consists of Zan Burnham (guitar, vocals, percussion, picked bass, theremin, and production), his daughter Arianna Burnham (vocals), Philip Dessinger (vocals), Saadi Zain (electric and acoustic bass), and newcomers since the last album, drummer Marko Djordjevic as well as vocalist Angela Watson-Modeste. That’s four singers (including Zan), which makes four-part harmonies no problem at all, although sometimes they opt for a more lean vocal production; in fact two of the album’s cuts, “Extinction: Romp” and “Extinction: Rebellion” are purely instrumental, and drive the band in a distinct progressive rock direction, the latter featuring one of Burnham’s most intense guitar solos.
The first thing a listener will notice is the wider range of styles that the band now encompasses, from pop-rock to heavier rock elements to jazz and soul, all informed by excellent lyrics and harmonies. The songs were mostly composed by Zan Burnham except the title track by Dessinger and several other numbers by both Burnham and Dessinger. Standouts include the rocker “Watchin’ the World Go By,” the powerful “I Won’t Live a Lie,” the funky number “That” with its memorable “After all...” refrain and the male-female back and forth vocal arrangements throughout the song. Two songs in particular, “Baby Cried” and the closer “Holdin’ You Tight” are amazing showcases for Watson-Modeste’s outstanding lead vocals. “Survival” is another rocker with a jangly West Coast guitar sound and amazing vocals by all. The progress the band has made on all fronts since their previous effort is nothing short of remarkable.
MUSIC WEB ENTERTAINMENT 3
2022 marks the return of Brooklyn’s best band, NYC rockers Zan Zone. Featuring the songs of band founder Zan Burnham, Start Where You Stand is the long-awaited result of 38 months of blood, sweat & tears that found the band enlisting the aid of a new co-lead female singer Angela Watson Modeste. Angela joins forces with long-time Zan Zone vocalists Zan Burnham, Philip Dessinger and Zan’s daughter Arianna Burnham. Angela’s voice rounds out the trademark, 4-part vocal harmony that is featured on a number of Start Where You Stand songs, including the title track composed by band member Philip Dessinger.
Key to the Zan Zone sound is Zan’s dazzling songwriting and his sizzling electric guitar skills. Dedicated to Zan’s wife Marilyn Lisa Feldman, who died in 2021, Start Where You Stand is the best-produced and best-sounding Zan Zone album yet. In contrast to the catchy, pop-rock anthems that are featured on the album in abundance, the Zan Zone approach to instrumental music is also put to the test on Start Where You Stand with “Extinction: Rebellion” and “Extinction: Romp”, proving that Zan Zone is not only rock and progressive music but rock instrumental too.
Driving Zan Zone’s powerhouse beat are Saadi Zain (electric / acoustic bass) and Marko Djordjevic (drums / percussion). In contrast to 2013’s It’s Only Natural, the cover art and album concept of Start Where You Stand is unsettled, perhaps alluding to the current global refugee crisis in the hell-fire aftermath of the pandemic era. One thing is clear: long-time Zan Zone devotees and newcomers will come away with big smiles on their faces after witnessing the pop-rock magic in play on Start Where You Stand.
Progressive Rock Central.com
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond
Zan Zone’s Diverse Classic Rock
Angel Romero August 31, 2022
Zan Zone – Start Where You Stand (Zan Zone, 2022)
New York band Zan Zone performs a deeply satisfying mix of classic rock, blues, Neil Young-style folk-rock, a little funk and even engaging progressive rock excursions like “Extinction: Rebellion”.
The group’s finely crafted sound is characterized by a trio of captivating vocalists, excellent guitar solos and great instrumentalists overall.
The songs on “Start Where You Stand” relate to current affairs, including lockdowns, environmental concerns, and survival.
December 5, 2022
The Brooklyn outfit Zan Zone return with more of Zan Burnham’s diverse songs, where the new co-lead vocalist Angela Watson Modeste completes the 4 part harmonies that also includes Arianna Burnham and Phillip Dessinger.
“Bad Dreams” opens the listen with warm guitar, as thumping drums and smooth singing enter the soothing yet rugged climate, and “Start Where You Stand” follows with a spirited prog-rock slant that welcomes some classic rock ideas amid the firm melodies.
Further down the line, “Extinction: Rebellion” displays intricate guitar progressions and strategic drumming that builds into a busy, precise landscape, while “THAT” moves with a dreamy quality that’s quite mesmerizing and showcases dual gender vocals.
Moving towards the end, the album’s best, “Survival”, shows hints of folk-rock alongside swirling melodies, and “Holdin’ You Tight” exits the listen with very pretty singing to complement the intimate and romantic finish.
Very tragically, Burnham’s wife, Marilyn Lisa Feldmen, passed away in 2021, and these well thought out songs are dedicated to her memory, as Saadi Zain handles electric and acoustic bass and Marko Djordjevic’s skilled drumming and percussion help illuminate the soaring voices and meticulous instrumentation.