By drawing inspiration from acts like Yes, the Beatles and Frank Zappa, Avi Zev builds towers of songs, filled with levels of meaning and sound, out of multiple key changes and chord progressions, all in four minutes or less. True to classic prog-rock style, the Avi Zev Band bleeds genres together, with pop, rock, jazz and the dreamier elements of surf all swirling together into a marshmallow haze for the ears. Or they can simply call it prog-pop.
But don’t confuse sweetness for empty calories. Zev’s songs are chock full of social, economic and political awareness, like in their first video, for 2017’s “1st World Blues,” where Zev sings, “What we want/We’ve been told/And we’re the ones being bought and sold.”
“It was near the time of Trump’s ascendency and one of the songs I had in reaction to some of the complacency I saw,” says Zev.
Born in Illinois, his family moved to Walnut Creek when he was 3. When he moved to Santa Cruz for college in 1997, he quickly settled in and made it home. Since then, Zev has played in a number of different music acts around town, including cover bands, rock groups and hip-hop group Blyndsite. When they broke up in 2012, Zev decided it was time to go in his own direction.
“I started writing songs and assembling players,” he says. “We’ve gone through a rotation of players before coming upon the current lineup.”
The line-up in question features: Zev on vocals, guitar and keys; Matt Wolfe on drums; Nat Canyon on rhythm guitar; and newest member, fresh for 2019, Tiphanie Bowens, on bass. They are currently working on a new five-song EP, yet to be named. Zev says the new material is more “streamlined” than their previous recordings, but adds that people can decide for themselves at the Blue Lagoon on April 19.
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 19. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.