Swamp Zombies

Chicken Vulture Crow

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In 1988 the big sound in Orange County was angry punk, as bands like Social Distortion broke out into the mainstream. On local college radio their blasts of aggression were interspersed with a truly unlikely sound -- the Swamp Zombies' beatnik folk version of "Purple Haze." Driven by bongo drums, an upright acoustic bass, and flailing acoustic guitars, it was catchy, fun, and completely out of line with the times. That description pretty much sums up the whole of Chicken Vulture Crow -- fun stuff featuring primitive harmonies, hyperactive guitar, and lots of enthusiasm. The album has weaker songwriting and vocals than their layer work, but the loose, cheerful vibe makes up for some of the amateurish moments. The strongest cuts show more than a glimmer of the tighter, more focused sound that the band would show on Fink, their next album. While some of the songs are forgettable, there are some strong cuts -- "A Simple Desultory" is a thoughtful look at the nature of fame and success and "Rudy the Magic Crow" is a bizarre singing commercial for the band's favorite drug dealer. While the Swamp Zombies would eventually flirt with lounge jazz and commercial success, this album shows their roots as an eccentric and creative local party band.

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