Archive for the ‘surf rock’ tag
Grass Widow’s Hannah Lew has just released the first single from her Cold Beat solo project, a piece of garage pop called “Worms”. Clocking in at under two minutes, there isn’t much room for variation on “Worms”, but what the track lacks in sonic diversity it more than makes up for in energy and listenability. Lew’s voice is pleasantly offset by occasional delay-slathered interjections, and her multiple guitar tracks sound like they could tear through wallpaper.
The “Worms” / “Year 5772″ EP is out November 5 via Crime on the Moon.
“Have you heard the devil’s back in town” starts out the slightly off tempo singing on “It’s a Common Life.” The theme of casual, “’sup bro” encounters with demonic forces infests Surf City’s We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This; an album about small-time ennui and unassaultive surf pop. Surf City devote nine tracks to recapturing 2009s surf rock explosion while paying tribute to indie idols Pavement.
Surf City manage to capture the same sunny atmosphere as Surfer Blood did on their debut Astro Coast, but with significantly more sonic variety and a much sparser atmosphere. “I Want You” could easily have been a wall of sound style blowout, but the song is sparse enough to have been recorded in an active classroom. This kind of low key vibe is persistent on We Knew and it goes hand in hand with Surf City’s beachy vibe.
“Oceanic Graphs of the Wilderness” sees Surf City attempt to add some experimental production elements to a cleverly repetitive pop song. The result is unfortunately more Death Cab For Cutie than Radiohead, but the shimmering, roving synth lines bring ample amounts of delicate bluster and suggest a possible stylistic evolution for Surf City’s next release. Though We Knew is undoubtedly still somewhat locked into the quagmire of surf pop that dominated indie publications four years ago, Surf City have shown themselves to be at least a little more willing to branch out than some of their contemporaries. The result: a fairly pleasing pop album with enough production twists to keep a non-surf rock devotee interested.
This time of year, vacation is on everyone’s minds. You know, a quick getaway to the beach, or at the very least, somewhere sunny. Of course, every summer requires its own distinct set of tunes; what’s an epic rooftop bash or the occasional drunken make-out sesh without a little memorable background noise? Obviously, Ohio trio Vacation know this already. They get it. Just their name alone screams summertime fling, so luckily, sophomore release Candy Waves is ripe with summer lovin’ from start to finish. Whether you’re headed near or far, get ready to meet your new summer soundtrack.
The best kinds of records– especially during summer– are the ones that don’t overstay their welcome. When it’s 85 degrees outside, who wants to get caught up in a lengthy guitar solo, or tangled in a web of complex electronic beats? Besides, there are far more pressing matters at hand. According to Vacation, these matters include the sun, good vibes, and a whole lot of other buzzy, distorted delights. The band keep things cool on Candy Waves, bobbing in-and-out of scorching punk melodies, surf pop rhythms and hooks as wide as the ocean itself. “Everyone Loves the Sun” is pure “Rockaway Beach” bound Ramones, bathed in the same bare, bouncing spirit of simplicity. Scuzzy “SFA” is fast, furious, and delivered with the attitude of a snarling punk grin. But while distortion and aggression both abound on Candy Waves, the album maintains a sunny disposition throughout; beach umbrella not included.
“Make a Mess” is, by far, the standout track of the album: Candy Waves’ euphoric high tide. You may find yourself wanting to coast along that delirious dream of a bass line for several miles, or several listens, at the very least. The new-wave-meet-surf-rock hybrid is one part retro beach party anthem, one part thrashing, thrilling head-banger, and all parts blazing and brilliant.
Noisy, screeching, charming, cluttered, and maybe just a little bit mad, Candy Waves never verges on saccharine or stale. Instead, it employs the simplest methods possible for creating music that moves you; music that grabs hold of you; music that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so you shouldn’t, either. During this time of year– or anytime, really– Vacation understand that this sort of music always goes down the sweetest.
3.5 / 5 bars
What happens when buzz turns sour? That’s certainly the question at hand on Surfer Blood’s latest effort, Pythons. In 2009, the Florida alt rockers made quite the splash with “Swim,” the debut single that helped them skyrocket from bedroom project to Pitchfork-approved breakout band. Then, in March 2012, frontman John Paul Pitts was arrested on charges of domestic battery after an altercation with his girlfriend. Although we’re far from gossipy when it comes to personal matters– and it’s worth noting that all charges were later dropped– it’s safe to say that the unfortunate incident had its influence on the making of Pythons. On their sophomore LP, Surfer Blood’s sound remains sunny as ever, but their outlook turns considerably more bleak.
Like Wavves’ Nathan Williams on Afraid of Heights, Surfer Blood have decided to pay homage to great pop-punk of the past on their latest release. Pythons is filled with melodic hooks and inspired moments of jangle-pop, but also displays a general, and new, feeling of anxiety. On opener “Demon Dance” Pitts bares his soul, singing, “Like a Pentecostal choir on Sunday/I can suck the venom right from your bones,” before apologizing via shrieks and yells. The song is undeniably pleasant, but deceivingly so; dark undertones hide exceptionally well within a catchy chorus.
Pythons was produced in California by Gil Norton, who crafted and contoured the record’s twelve tracks much like he’s done in the past for bands like Pixies. While Pythons sounds considerably smoother than anything Surfer Blood have done before, it’s also a bit scattered. Highlights include the grunge-y (and quite telling) “I Was Wrong” and the sun-soaked “Weird Shapes,” but later tracks like “Blair Witch” are definitely worthy of skipping.
Through its best and bitterest moments, Pythons still retains its charms, ultimately building towards something that– if it can make up its own worry-riddled mind– could be pretty sweet.
3 / 5 bars
Surf City’s “It’s A Common Life” lives up to the quartet’s moniker without sounding too common. There’s a glistening, buzzing shimmer to the guitars, which soar around like seagulls over a surfer’s paradise. This is summery bluster that’s still appropriate for an overlong winter – bright and friendly but just dark enough to surprise.
The latest from Titus Andronicus-alum Andrew Cedermark, “Canis Major” combines the nostalgia-heavy “lazy suburban afternoon” rock of Cedermark’s northern New Jersey contemporaries with the psych-pop buoyancy of Grizzly Bear. Cedermark may have the most emphatically “pop” aspirations of the Underwater Peoples collective (which counts Real Estate and Ducktails as members); “Canis Major” borrows from alt-country, guitar-obsessed British indie, and the style of lighthearted groove rock that saw its heyday as sitcom themes throughout the 90s. Taking a big step away from his more isolated earlier work (like the beautifully chilly Moon Deluxe), “Canis Major” is Cedermark’s most approachable – and perhaps most immediately impressive – piece of music yet.
Last week, when I wrote on FIDLAR and asked if their schtick could last, I didn’t know just how soon I’d be receiving my answer. The L.A. punk outfit recently made a name for themselves with “Cheap Beer,” a song that details a day in the life of a California skate punk. “I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! Fuck! You!”– which, by the way, is the chorus– pretty much sums up all you need to know about these guys.
As I previously detailed, FIDLAR is actually an acronym for “fuck it, dog– life’s a risk.” So, as you may imagine, FIDLAR are not your go-to band for deep, intellectual thinking. They wear tie-dye tank tops, go surfing, and say “like” a lot. Freckle-faced drummer Max Kuehn is a former child actor who once appeared on Hannah Montana. In an interview, lead singer Zach Carper referred to Blink-182 as “the best fucking band in the world,” and honestly, it wasn’t easy to tell if he was kidding or not.
Like, say, the Beach Boys before them– please, just go with me on this– FIDLAR are a fun, messy conglomeration of sunny-side up, California youth culture. However, instead of fast cars and sweet girls, FIDLAR are more inclined to sing about lines of speed, bags of weed, and getting blackout drunk. My, how times have changed.
FIDLAR like the sort of things that make the upper, older tiers of society cringe, but of course, that’s completely the point. And even though their just-released debut album, FIDLAR, is lowbrow with a capital “L,” it’s hard to deny that these guys have charm– and actual, bonafide skills– to spare.
On their self-titled debut, FIDLAR channel their childish, snot-nosed, “fuck you!” attitudes through fourteen surprisingly enjoyable tracks. “Max Can’t Surf” is about the aforementioned drummer’s lack of skills on the beach, but he definitely lacks nothing when it comes to the skins. “White On White” displays an aggressive, powerful guitar and a memorable, metal-style riff that is still somehow polished. “No Waves”– which, ironically, sounds pretty much just like Wavves– is kind of quaint and cozy in a way that’s hard to describe. The video for “No Waves,” which features the guys mock-performing as the stars of a low-rent 90s sitcom, is worth checking out; as a grown-ass woman, I have no shame in admitting that I laughed out loud while watching.
So now, back to that “schtick;” what I hope you’ve learned, boys and girls, is that with FIDLAR, there is none. These guys are a rough-around-the-edges collection of foul-mouthed youths, and their first album unabashedly reflects these truths. Despite its shortcomings, FIDLAR is a surprisingly impressive– and, dare I say it, delightful– debut. As FIDLAR themselves say, “There’s nothing wrong with living like this.”
3.5 / 5 bars
Following So-Cal crooner Nathan Williams and the rest of the gang of Wavves on Twitter is pretty entertaining. It’s almost as good as scrolling through Samuel L. Jackson’s tweets of Olympic commentary (“These chicks slinging da shit outta that heavy frisbee!”) which never seem to stop. Seriously, Almost.
But if you do follow Wavves, you’ll know that Nathan recently put out a series of tweets that signaled the release of a new single, “Hippies is Punks,” created for the Adult Swim Singles Programs. The really, really good single is called “Hippies is Punks,” and it seems as if its super DIY style is only an indicator of what’s to come on the next Wavves record: “John, Stephen and I payed for the record ourselves. We had no time limit, no person telling us we needed a single… once we were done we took it around and let labels listen to and bid on a finished product. 100 % ours, no changes.” Sounds like a gold medal effort to me.