My father is an obsessive music fan and goes to any festival, concert or show to hear any new band he can. Whenever he hears a good band, I get a CD. Usually these bands have such obscure names and sounds and I only listen to them once. One band was an instant favorite: ZOX.
ZOX was started in 1999 at Brown University with members Eli Miller, Spencer Swain, Eli Batalion, and John Zox (Dan Edinberg has replaced Eli Batalion as bassist in recent years). They played together in the basement of their dorm and began playing hundreds of college and club shows a year.
ZOX's music blends rock, reggae, punk, and classical into a truly original sound that instantly captivates anyone who hears it. The band's music could be described as a joining of Sublime, Led Zeppelin, the Police and Beethoven into one unique sound. The sound of the violin either fiddling or plucking with an electric guitar and bass as well as upbeat drumming is captivating. All parts of this quartet bring something original to the sound. Spencer is a classically trained violinist who has mastered his craft, Eli can write lyrics that will stop you in your tracks and guitar riffs that sing as beautifully as he, John's upbeat drumming keeps you on your feet and Dan's skill on bass merges all the instruments into one fluid sound. Not only is their music fantastic, but their lyrics have depth, and the harmonies of the three singers is beautiful.
I've given out numerous sampler CDs of their debut album, "Take Me Home," to friends and family and have not heard anyone say that they dislike the band. Not only do people not dislike the band, they begin to consider them one of their favorite bands. The album exudes energy, but also has tracks that put you in the calmest of moods. The CD contains an upbeat version of the classic "Canon" played on electric instruments. My favorite track on the album, "Starry Night," has lyrics such as: "I cut the world in chords, makin' melodies from words" and "The song that's in my head is playing backwards in this bed and I'm confused again." The song "The Squid" is a perfect introduction to the band and has a rocking opening violin solo followed by captivating guitar and bass with a steady drum beat in the background.
The musicians' energy and stage presence is amazing and can be topped by only their musical ability. They have played shows all over the country, and created a small, but quickly growing following. I saw ZOX play at a coffee shop for free; it was the most intimate setting possible. Thanks to that, I got to know the guys of the band on a more personal level. They are just as nice as they are talented.
ZOX is playing a free show from 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 5 at the village gazebo in Ellicottville (or at Balloon's Restaurant in Ellicottville in case of rain). They will also be playing on the Warped Tour, and are playing the Buffalo stop at Six Flags Darien Lake Aug. 18.
ZOX is definitely a band to check out any way you can. "Take Me Home" is available on the Web site, www.zoxband.com, along with samples of most of the songs off the CD.
Joanna Battaglia will be a junior at Holy Angels Academy.