Notes From Needle (Part 1)

by ZWENG, Produced by Jonathan Hakakian

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"Notes From Needle (Part 1)" is the first part of a full-length LP that will be released in three segments. Stay tuned for Parts II and III... by visiting

When I took a listen to “Needle,” the opening track of Notes from Needle (Part 1) from L.A. indie-rock outfit Zweng, the first few notes instantly arrested my attention. (That’s a good sign.)

The thing about indie-rock is not even that it comes in so many styles, but also that it comes on so many levels of experimentation. That’s something to celebrate, but the down side is that there are so many bands who are so busy experimenting that a lot of the music is coming out muddled, inaccessible to most people. Too many indie bands just aren’t “hitting the pocket,” as I like to put it.

Make no mistake–Zweng hits the pocket. Dead on.

The musical arrangements on this three-song EP are diverse and highly creative, but still very accessible and interesting to listen to. Ryan Zweng’s voice, the dominant feature on the EP, reminds me a lot of Brian Gibb of Death Cab for Cutie; but the lyrics are a bit darker, more direct and poignant, and the music itself is more raw. Every one of the three songs sounds quite different from the others, but it’s obvious the same band is playing them. With strong songwriting, solid musicianship and melodies that stick in your head, Zweng really hits the mark with this effort.

I get that the whole indie thing is supposed to break from the norms and not have any real “rules” to it–but listening to this record, I can’t help but think that this sets some sort of standard. If indie-rock is “supposed” to be anything in particular, I’d think it would be this.

As the title of the EP suggests, Notes from Needle (Part 1) is the first of three upcoming EP releases that are intended to comprise a full-length record when taken together. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the rest of it to come out, for the time being you can download the EP for free from Zweng’s Bandcamp site."
-Zweng’s “Needle”–To the Point
September 21st, 2011 Posted in bands By Jeff McQuinn

Get ready for a little Indie music bursting with Alternative, Pop and even Soul. Zweng is their name and the group is primarily made up of: singer/songwriter Ryan Zweng and co-producer/keyboardist Jon Hakakian. Drummer Steve Riley also makes his presence known on the new EP ‘Notes From Needle, Vol. 1′. This release features only three tracks but sometimes big things come in small packages.
‘Notes From Needle, Vol. 1′ comes three years after the Zweng debut release ‘Silent Scream of Gulls’. You would expect more material especially in a span of three years but I will tell you that each song stands out in a crowd. Zweng goes from a more Pop-friendly sound on the last record to a more substance-heavy, soulful approach on this one. These guys are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work!
On the first track “Needle” Zweng seems to have come up with something that sounds retro & modern all at once. Right out of the gates I’m really diggin’ this band’s style. Next up is “Morning After” where you get a mellow jam, cool melody and just a really good song overall. On the last number “City Something” Zweng is really digging deep vocally to bring you the goods.
After hearing all three tracks I sense real musicianship, crisp ‘n’ catchy vocals and a sound & style that grabs your attention. The three songs are a good start but I need to hear a lot more to be fully convinced that Zweng is for real. ‘Notes From Needle, Vol. 1′ has offered the listeners a great intro but now we just need a solid body and strong conclusion. "
-By Jimmy Rae, SKOPE Magazine.

"The emotional opening of the Needles EP will immediately catch the minds and hearts of anyone listening in. This is not only due to Zweng’s vocals but the arrangements that are present here. There are a multitude of different layers that work to highlight the vocals, and give listeners simultaneously a high replay value for the disc’s three tracks. Zweng moves through alternative, pop-rock, and alt-country all in the space of four minutes. With a little bit of piano and choral vocals added into the mix, what results here is an epic track conceived, executed, and finished all in the course of four minutes.
“Morning After” is the middle track on the EP, and it allows Zweng to switch into a more funky, trippy type of headspace. While Zweng’s vocals are still the defining presence on this part of the Needles EP, I feel that each piece present here unites into a fulfilling and impressive composition. With a set of vocals that approaches that of a Sean Lennon or Conor Oberst, the styles and influences that are touched upon during each of the EP’s cuts speak to a decidedly different type of fan base. This EP ends with “City Something”, a track that I feel gives listeners the most honest and touching side to Zweng’s psyche.
“City Something” has a slower and more introspective feel that resounds loudly long after the disc closes up. Taken together, the three tracks on the Needles EP provide listeners with a solid appreciation of who Zweng is, where he has been, and it will only be a matter of time until they are provided with where he will go in the next few years. The only thing that I know is that the Needles EP is solid, and will be a title that stays in the player until new music is released from his side of things.
Top Tracks: Needle, Morning After"

-James McQuiston
Editor, NeuFutur (print magazine)
Editor, (e-magazine)

"The latest effort from Los Angeles Indie Pop band Zweng is an absolute triumph of modern alt rock. The three song ep titled "Needle" takes the musical and studio skills of the band demonstrated on their debut album "Silent Scream of Gulls" and hones them to a fine point. Singer/Songwriter Ryan Zweng's sharp and incisive world outlook is injected into the listener who can't help but get taken for a trip. The song "City Something" is rich with powerful rhythms and melodic hooks, and should dominate American rock radio stations. If you're in La La Land and you have the chance to see Zweng live, you'll be forever hooked on this exciting new act." W.J. McKay - GothMountain.Com


released August 14, 2011

All the music was written and performed by Ryan Zweng, Jonathan Hakakian of and Steve Riley of

Produced by Jonathan Hakakian of

The songs were mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound, NYC.



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