New band? Marzaks 2.0 sounds familiar

For a band that’s been together for less than three years, the Marzaks have had line-up changes similar to the member-swapping fiasco that was (and according to their webpage, is) Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship/Jefferson Starship-– The Next Generation. The band who won first place (and $500!) in the Non-Traditional Band segment of the 11th annual Appalachian String Band Festival in 2000, and the band that recorded the 2002 album, Superhuman, is no more. The latest incarnation of the Marzaks could be called Marzaks Version 2.0.
But thanks to the fact that the two remaining members of the original group, Peter Markush (stage name: Mark Rock) and Joey Vigour (Ben), have always been the band’s main vocalists and songwriters, not that much seems to have changed. In spite of the loss of 3/5 of the original group, the Marzaks– whose duo show I caught fairly recently– accurately recreate the sound, the humor, and the pop know-how of their debut. And that’s something to be thankful for.
Citing influences such as the smarter-than-all-hell pop/rock They Might Be Giants, the quirky indie Shonen Knife, and constantly trampled lo-fi pioneers Violent Femmes, the Marzaks are a group that could only have arisen in Charlottesville (or maybe another bluegrass-wild college town, but I can’t think of one).
Combine the wit behind such tracks as “Toaster”– where that common household item becomes the last link to a past relationship– with the old-time sensibilities this town is famous for, and you come up with a genre that I, for one, have never heard before.
The first real song on Superhuman is the title track, and right from the start things get exceedingly wacky. “Once I fell into a pit / Containing radioactive ooze / And now I’m superhuman,” sings Vigour on guitar, backed by mandolin, tambourine, cello, and some exceedingly lightweight drums. The song recounts a tale of a prospective lover who tells the superhuman narrator that he’s “a real nice guy” but she is “not attracted to men who are faster than a speeding bullet.”
Zing! The chorus of the track is exceeding “aww” inspiring, as the deposed narrator sings, “Now that I’m superhuman / I can do anything / But I can’t make you fall in love with me.” I’m starting to tear up here, too, folks.
Other highlights in the duo’s songwriting portfolio on Superhuman are the aforementioned “Toaster,” probably the most rocking song on the album (relatively speaking, of course), and the Vigour-penned “She Likes To Bite,” the story of the worst date ever (unless you regularly keep company with cannibals).
Recently the duo that was the Marzaks picked up two new members, fiddler Jason Ankney (Happy Goth), and drummer/percussionist Issac Slutzky (Peanut Kid), to help flesh out the group’s sound for future performances. If your tastes range from quirky-pop to bluegrass, why not give the Marzaks a try? They’ll satisfy both your cravings at the same time.

Marzaks at Mudhouse July 10. No cover (all ages), 8pm.