I'd always written these guys off as a late-to-the-party hardcore band. Hailing from Indianapolis and touting a 'hit' called “Livin' in the 80s” did not strike interest in my heart. Add to that the fact that they didn't play much at all outside their own little state, and the Zero Boys didn't have much of a chance to hit the radar as many of their predecessors did. Toxic Reasons, the most underrated band in the entire blitz of great Midwest mayhem, made themselves a name by playing any and everywhere in 1980-81.
Now come these two discs, collecting all of the Zero Boys output for the most part, and it becomes clear that all these guys needed was a good van and a healthy aversion to regular employment, because the music is as solid as any that came of that era. The formula, you know: Buzzsaw guitar, thudding drums, snotty/pissed off voice. The Zero Boys were blessedly free of the speed burner ambitions, making them a bit more original. Of these two discs, History of is the brighter, mostly benefiting from a pureness of purpose. It sounds like they didn't know what they were doing but the guitar leads with an innocent frenzy that keeps it just north of new wavey with plenty of grind behind it. Vicious Circle is more polished, with songs that vary from straight ahead to anthemic. Both collections portray a band with more spirit than anyone thought. And imagine that even in those pre-Internet days, marketing mattered, although that meant actually getting in a van, living on $5 a day and playing for 10 people a night, rather than clicking send in an email blast. [Secretly Canadian]
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