Label: Kanine Records
Release Date: Jan 19th 2010
2010 has made a great start music-wise with strong releases by the likes of Vampire Weekend, Delphic, and Fan Death - but in my opinion Surfer Blood's debut effort is January's finest. The Palm Beach five-piece started to cause a bit of a stir last year with some good support slots around the US, back to back performances at New York's CMJ, backed up by four quality tracks on their MySpace. Due to the quality of the songs, my primary concern for this album was that they had shot their proverbial load and that the rest of the album would be fodder, but fortunately this proved not to be the case.
The band play a heavily nineties-influenced yet still unique sounding brand of Surf tinged Indie Pop - complete with many a great pop hook, often echoed vocals, and fuzzy distorted guitar. Not only is their sound unique, but they really change things up from song to song.They also utilise some simple yet extremely effective riffs - straight off demonstrated by album opener Floating Vibes. The song is typically hook heavy, and carries a carefree, breezy vibe throughout. Swim is drenched in reverb and has a massive, stadium-ready chorus. As the first song on their MySpace page, it's the first track that myself and I'm sure many others heard of the band, and one that grabs your attention from the first note.The album stays upbeat through the bouncy, afro-poppy Take It Easy, thankfully far-better-than-titled Harmonix, and high-energy Fast Jabroni, before really mellowing out from Slow Jabroni onwards. The band also do this very well, exhibiting a huge amount of maturity for a band who are so young. The tempo's not the only aspect that is more somber, with the lyrics also becoming darker as the album draws to a close. The distorted guitars and echoed vocals are still present, but just used in a different context.
Astro Coast is not just well written, but also very well produced - a credit which lies solely with the band themselves considering it was recorded in their dorm room at Florida Atlantic University. Although it is obvious which direction the band will be going popularity-wise after this release, it will be interesting to see which path they take sound wise. I'm sure some will be calling for a refinement and for the band to try and find a sound and stick with it, but for me it's their diversity and unpredictability which is so endearing.
Choice tracks: Floating Vibes, Swim
Recommended if you like: Weezer, The Shins