The Hail Seizures' gypsy punk owes an obvious debt to Gogol Bordello, and also to the Pogues, both bands that borrow from distinct musical and cultural traditions to find their distinct sounds. In the case of the Hail Seizures, I suspect that the mostly acoustic lineup is a result of chance and experiment and reflects DIY self-reliance (freedom even from electricity) rather than tradition.
On Fucked Up Zoo, unusual instruments, including a toy piano, add a fortuitous dose of discordant fun to many of the songs. Sadly, the fun gets lost on the more politically and lyrically challenging songs, including "White Pills" (corporate greed and commodity fetishism in the pharmaceutical industry) and "Stranger in the House" (frustration that the revolution has yet to come). These are the least interesting songs musically, while songs with less sweeping agendas, like the very funny (and also sad) junky tale "Iliad," are more likely to capture the listener's attention with quirky rhythms and catchy choruses.
Fucked Up Zoo has some great songs, but the Hail Seizures have yet to find that perfect balance between musicality and lyrical complexity that can propel a political tune beyond current events reporting and into the realm of art.
The Hail Seizures play Total Fest Sat., Aug. 22, at noon at the Big Dipper record swap.