Zatopeks - Damn Fool Music (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Damn Fool Music (2007)

Whoa Oh

Dear Zatopeks: The `50s, `60s and `70s called. They want their sound back. Also, the estates of Joey Ramone, Buddy Holly and the guy from the Toy Dolls called too and they're pissed. They think you stole their likeness. They think you rock too much like they did. Oh, the guy from the Toy Dolls is still alive? Whatever, he's still pissed.

Hailing from London (the same current locale as the Toy Dolls) and fronted by a singer of similar nerdiness, Zatopeks bang out a sampling of early rock and roll styles and even some `60s Dylan-inspired folk when not doing their best Ramones impression.

The record kicks off with "Radio Maryja," a simple, punchy roller-skate number with plenty of "ba ba ba"s and is followed by the equally catchy "15 Ta Life," with unexpectedly heavy subject matter ("Fifteen years of marriage, it's really come to this / A custody battle for the whiskey bottle / Well, we never did have kids") and some outstanding lyrical imagery ("Trains passing through the dusk lit up like movie screens / A million bit-part actors for a film we'll never see / […] / I join the extras on that train / My favorite bridge still looks the same / I press my face to the glass / Kiss you and it's goodbye"). Zatopeks hit their album's high point with the third song, "Drive-By Love," an infectious horn-driven tune of equal parts Ramones and early River City Rebels. From there, the band throws in attempts at folk with "Picture Postcards" and "Courtyard Blues," and soft rock with "Song For Nina Simone," none of which work all that effectively. Before bowing out, though, Zatopeks recharge and bust out "I Don't Want the Airwaves" and "747," two fantastically fun punk songs.

With so many bands in the U.S. retooling the classic Ramones sound, it's surprising that more haven't experimented with different styles like Zatopeks have. While ultimately it's their fast and energetic songs that are the best, it's nice to see a band of this inclination try something different. Damn Fool Music? Damn good music.