The local bass heroes accidentally invent a new genre.
Make no mistake about it, Zeds Dead‘s new EP is distinctly a dubstep album. While their last release, Victor, was a diverse blend of bass-heavy sounds, ranging from reggae and hip hop to drum and bass, The Living Dead is filled with broken beats, mid-range roars, and that wub-wub-wub sound.
That said, it’s not just a dubstep record.
First of all, all four songs are have a touch of hip hop to them. Every one has a minimum of one verse from MC/part-time Zedster Omar Linx. Also, the majority of the songs on Living Dead borrow elements from at least one other genre.
It’s a short jump from dubstep to electro-house, so it’s not surprising that at least one song on the album—the hard charging, four-on-the-floor title track—falls distinctly into that category. Similarly, it’s not totally surprising to see the band slide a little tribute to their musical forebears into a song. In fact, given electronic dance music’s tendency to overlook its own history, it’s kind of heartwarming to hear the ’90s rave-inspired synth breaks on “Crank.” Where things get really weird, however, is on “Cowboy.” (You can listen to “Cowboy” by clicking on the link above.) The song is a hybrid of dubstep, hip hop, and country-fried rock. Yes, you read that correctly. The first song in a new sub-subgenre that I’ve dubbed “cowstep,” “Cowboy” has the potential to be a giant mess, and indeed it comes close. Simultaneously big, dumb, bombastic, and twangy, it sounds like a bad-idea smoothie, but somehow it works. It’s a song that you want to dislike on principle, but in practice, it’s just too much fun to beat up on. It won’t make you think, but it’s not supposed to. It’s meant to make you dance, and possibly giggle a little, and it does both of those quite nicely.
Zeds Dead have actively tried to move away from being called a dubstep act. The pair of former hip-hop producers cite Aphex Twin and French house as their first electronic influences, and they like the freedom to roam across genres. The Living Dead is proof of their commitment to that approach. Even when the Zeds try to make straight-up dubstep album, they somehow wind up getting it wonderfully wrong.