Photo: Ian Witlen.
[ download ]
In these days of hyphenated musical sub-genres and cross-pollinated, hybridized taxonomies, Surfer Blood writes songs in what feels like an increasingly endangered idiom: that straightforward lexicon of a bunch of dudes rockin’ out. There is more than a touch of 1990s college radio to the Palm Beach, Florida quartet’s tunes, with the guitar-heavy tones of all time favorites like Pavement, The Pixies, and early-era Weezer shining through.
The band just wrapped up a tour opening for Art Brut (speaking of all time favorites), and the pairing makes a great deal of sense since both acts share a certain directness in their musical approach. Immediacy is not to be confused with a lack of thoughtfulness, however, and repeated listens to Surfer Blood’s music reveal layers of complexity bubbling below the surface. A prime example is “Floating Vibes,” a track culled from the band’s forthcoming debut LP, Astro Coast, slated for a January 19, 2010 release on Kanine Records.
“Floating Vibes” starts off strong courtesy of some heavy snares and guitar chords which are wielded like the persistent jabs of a sparring partner. When the main guitar melody struts in with its cascading notes… well, that’s when I fell in love. The way Surfer Blood gels in this moment is something bands don’t learn how to do–they just either do it or they never will, and there is something incredibly gratifying about the way each member understands precisely what they need to contribute to the gestalt.
About halfway though the track, Surfer Blood elevates things further with some coy handclaps and the introduction of cool vocal harmonies, then ratchets things up further with a brief yet fierce section of frenetic strumming and howling vocals. It is a wondrous moment in a song that has more than its fair share and one which is reprised in part before the song’s conclusion. If “Floating Vibes” is any indication, the band seems poised to make a statement with their premiere in mid-January. In the dead of winter, a little Surfer Blood can go a long way.