Orange County punk rockers Zebrahead are back with album number ten and, surprise, surprise, it’s 17 tracks of teenage angst, drinking and parties. All you have to do is look at the busty lady on the album cover and you know exactly what you’re going to get. ‘Call Your Friends’ is quintessential Zebrahead and a case of more of the same. They haven’t changed their sound, more fine-tuned it with a few tiny burst of maturity here and there, such as the piano intro in ‘With Friends Like These, Who Needs Herpes?’.
Though their sound is near identical to the past nine albums, it does have an ever so slightly different feel to it. This is due to the departure of their long-term lead guitarist, Greg Bergdorf, who left half way through the album’s production phase in order to spend more time with his family. Luckily, Dan Palmer of Death By Stereo fame stepped up and provided the lead guitars on ‘Call Your Friends’. As a result, the blistering solos present on this album are some of the best that Zebrahead have ever done.
‘Call Your Friends’ is catchy, well written and over all a bloody good collection of songs, but sadly, it gets old fast, much like what Reel Big Fish have become. I see these songs as setlist filler to fill time in between their classic songs and, let’s be honest, the members of Zebrahead are just a bit too long in the tooth to be having soundbites of beer chugging in their songs.
The saving grace of the album though is the energy. Zebrahead are known for their outstanding live shows which are fuelled by the fast-paced, high-octane songs and ‘Call Your Friends’ has plenty of them. How they are still this active after 17 years of all-nighters, world tours and festivals is nothing short of a miracle, but I’m personally glad they still are.
In summary, ‘Call Your Friends’ is an album for the die-hard Zebrahead fans or for those who are just getting into them. It’s not a bad album per se, just a predictable one, full of songs that are similar to everything else in their back-catalogue. There are a few decent tracks such as ‘Panic In The Streets’ and ‘With Friends Like These, Who Needs Herpes?’, which are well worth a listen, but be warned that the rest are setlist fodder. Quite frankly, ‘Call Your Friends’ is an album you can probably live without.
Written by Andy Roberts