Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spotlight On: Tanks of Zen...

I've been listening to this album near-constantly since I found where it had been misplaced when it came in the mail. I have a ferret (read: 4-year old) in my household, so that makes it hard to keep track of stuff sometimes.

That said, Tanks of Zen are the latest project masterminded by Nick Pollock (Alice N' Chainz, My Sister's Machine, Soulbender). Knowing Nick Pollock's background, I have been listening to the CD for days, trying desperately to come up with a way to describe his music without the gratuitous Alice in Chains comparisons that My Sister's Machine got so very often back in the 1990's.

The album, Love's Gentle Maw, is amazing. This project is partially fan-funded with folks contributing on Kickstarter to help fund the mix-down of this awesome record. Kudos to all the fans who contributed: without them, we'd still be waiting for this sonic masterpiece to be released!

Love's Gentle Maw is a solid record from beginning to end. The tracks fit together in a continuous groove, downbeat at times but always sonically intense. Be warned, you will fall victim to one earworm or another after listening. The tunes are catchy and well-performed. Pollock's vocals are outstanding. As an old-school fan of MSM, I've always liked Nick's voice, but had never thought of him as a top vocalist until now. His voice and vocal control have matured over the years and the lyrics flow from his throat in a groovy, seamless manner. I almost want to call this radio-friendly, but it seems only manufactured pop stars are considered radio-friendly these days. Owen Wright (MSM guitarist) makes a guest appearance on the album and his solos are exactly the kind of quality you would expect from him.

I really love this and it's going to take some effort to get it out of the CD player in my car. You can find sound samples and download tracks, as well as read a review from another fan here at

I'm not going to pick a favorite track as I seem to prefer to listen to the CD on repeat in its entirety. If you're looking for a more-rock-y track, "Alibi" is my pick for you. If you like a groove, try "Skin Deep." If you're not sure what to pick, try "Oh..."

Can anyone identify where I've heard of Steve Rehnstrom (bassist) before? I want to say he used to play in Jesus Headtrip, but I'm not positive. Help!

If you aren't familiar with My Sister's Machine, they put out two really awesome CD's in the early 1990's. While neither of them is available for download on amazon, you can purchase them here. Diva features awesome tracks "Diva," "I Hate You," and "Love at High Speed." Wallflower features awesome tracks "Cracking New Ground," "Enemy," and "Empty Room." MSM is more like stereotypical grunge rock than Tanks of Zen, hence the comparisons to Alice in Chains.

I was a big fan of MSM in my teen years and was sad when they called it quits. I know there were a few demo tracks intended for a third record, but even though I loved them (heard them on a radio show, forever and a day ago), they'll probably never see the light of day like so many other great songs: Lost to an unforgiving music industry.

MSM was one of the first bands I saw live, due to an overprotective parent. My mom's line when I asked to go see a concert was always, "But... there'll... be... drrrrrugs there!" I always rolled my eyes when ex-hippie mom played the drug card with me. I had better sense than that. But I digress.

In 1993, I saw MSM at Pain in the Grass, a now-defunct local music series featuring up and coming local bands. That's where I really got bitten by the photography bug. I had always liked to snap pictures, but had never gone gonzo for the art until that day...

This is an incredibly lucky shot for a then-inexperienced photographer. It is also one of my favorite shots of all time. So, thank you, MSM for inspiring a lifelong interest!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with all that. Great album.
    Nick's voice and songwriting have always been great, but as he matures ( and so do I!) they're just wonderful.

    Nick tells me he has a rockier album to put out when he gets time,