One reassuring thing to consider is that despite his passing this year, Layne Staley's legacy lives on. The late lead singer from Alice in Chains had a distinct voice and attitude that has been, and continues to be, copied regularly by many in the hard rock scene. One of those masses is Jesse (aka Buzz McKrackin) the frontman for Ones And Zeros, a San Francisco, California band.
At first listen, O.A.Z. seemed to be rather unremarkable and “Protocol” seemed to be generic. This is not groundbreaking music, and should not be judged as such. With the bar being set so high in the '90s by the Seattle scene, it is easy to dismiss most rock releases since then. But, after setting those other bands aside, the resulting image of O.A.Z. is not so bad. Throughout the course of “Protocol“, O.A.Z passably pull off the grunge/modern rock sound. They throw melodies, hooks, some computer wizardry and a little bit of angst together and the resulting broth is a nice album to listen to.
The lyrics on “Protocol” do not capture the emotion, nor have the meaning of the Gen-X rock, but Jesse belts them out in a manner that certainly mirrors that of the late Staley. Nowhere is this more apparent than on “Duality“, the second track on Ones And Zeros' newest release “Protocol“. With vocals that could have easily come off of AIC's “Dirt” trudging over chugging guitars and a thick low end, “Duality” belongs back in the early '90s grunge scene. “Things I've Done” is probably the album's most accessible, and best, track – a radio friendly tune with melody, hooks, a simple-yet-eloquent guitar solo and solid sing-along lyrics.
With all of these comparisons to older rockers, one would be remiss to forget the Cure, as O.A.Z. pulls off an impressive and enjoyable cover of their “Fascination Street“. That alone makes checking out “Protocol” worthwhile.