New Music | Friday Roll Out: TEKE::TEKE, J HACHA DE ZOLA

If there’s anything we can all agree on, it’s the sheer brilliance TEKE::TEKE brings from one release to the next. The band reaps what it sows with its sophomore full-length release Hagata (Kill Rock Stars), an inventive 10-track effort. The Japanese language album is rife with inventive instrumentation breaking international barriers with song structures that seem to juxtapose cultures with one another. TEKE::TEKE mixes experimentalism with sheer pop abandon on “Hoppe” while on “Onaji Heya,” extremities are pushed to their brink as instruments collide against one another. With Hagata, TEKE::TEKE aren’t doing something that isn’t just unique, the band just might be changing the landscape of music altogether.  


Rarely do we dream in color and there must be a reason for it but it isn’t for anyone to ever question the things we can’t control. It simply prepares us all for the colorful world that awaits us when we wake. While it may be daunting at times, it’s always an experience we never expect but should just enjoy and take in without any apprehension. Music, it’s the one changing factor that allows those same colors around us all to shift and vary in ways we never see coming.

Tri-state area’s J Hacha De Zola is an anomaly, writing, recording, and releasing solo material since 2016 and with each subsequent release, honing his skills. 2021 witnessed the release of East Of Eden, an impeccable release that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time. This was a magnificent opus he wouldn’t be able to top. Or so I thought. Zola has just released his sixth full-length release Without A Tribe (Slow Start Records/Caballo Negro), which while taking the same approach, moves somewhat differently. Opening with the rich venom of “A Day In Secaucus, New Jersey” Zola indulges us all with mid-tempo’d percussion, lightly sprinkled with keyboards, and flagrantly casting spells with lush backing harmonies and horns. All this as his words wax poetically around raucous and noisy melodies that seem synonymous with his hometown of Secaucus. It’s followed by “Do You,” a love song filled with dread and question, as horns fill the atmosphere and music pauses when and where necessary. By this point, early into the release, the components that make up J Hacha De Zola, his influences, and his compositional output have surpassed his own influences. In layman’s terms, he’s shed the comparisons to the influences of Jim Morrison, Tom Waits, and the countless others that he himself has often cited. There are moments where his songwriting is matched with contemporaries like the great Jimbo Mathus himself. But that seems to be just part of Zola’s appeal.

Instances of the soulful 70s appear here, in texture and quality, much like the way Isaac Hayes was able to deliver it with poised ease. You won’t find an obvious example of it, but semblances appear through “I’m High” and “Stay Away.” It’s there, you simply have to listen for it. It’s on “Stay Away” though where the additional backing vocals, provided by Emily Anastasio (The Uneasy) are a welcomed addition. But it’s the sex appeal throughout Zola’s delivery that just might be what’s infectious. When he sings “Am I running out of time/am I living in rewind…?” on “Running Out Of Time,” the melody set in the chorus is utterly hypnotic. His vocal command in the song shouldn’t be overlooked as he sings against wind instruments, delicate guitars, and cooing background harmonies. It’s difficult not to get lost inside his mind with the melancholic “Drunk Again.” It’s everything you might think it is, with atmospheric percussion, swaying through keyboard washes.

I’m not sure what we should have expected with Without A Tribe but through this collection of songs, it definitely showcases J Hacha De Zola redefining his own style, keeping things fresh and vibrant. Through pain, through change; J Hacha De Zola may be rediscovering his own unique abilities at crafting songs that are unique enough to set him apart from anyone and everyone.