Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast (2010)

3.5 ★/7.0 - 7.9

A band like Surfer Blood has no place in Florida. In case you didn't know, the Sunshine State is without a doubt one of the strangest places in the country. Last year, an overweight man from Florida tried to argue in the court of law that he was too fat to kill his former son-in-law, while another man whose computer contained over 1,000 child porn images blamed his cat. Just this past week, some guy thought he could put up a ransom for stealing someone's potted plant. There are nymphomaniacs, truck fighters, fish-wielders and diaper dudes. Jew kickers and door-to-door breast doctors run rampant, Hooters lies to their employees and grandparents hire hit men.

Surfer Blood know where they live (One of the tracks on Astro Coast was titled "Twin Peaks" for a reason) and must feel pretty uncomfortable about it because all they seem to want to do is sound as normal as possible. They must cling to their copies of Vampire Weekend and The Blue Album every night shivering in fear of all the weirdos and bizarre events they're surrounded by.

Their debut album seems to function as a sort of desperate last attempt to get out of their environment, capitalizing on a unique mix of every popular indie pop trend ever made. Sonic Youth guitar tones do Strokes covers. Weezer power pop sections alternate between Krautrock influenced instrumentals. Surf music and The Shins, Bradford Cox and The Sea and Cake, etc. Astro Coast will have you playing the name game for hours.

But really, who cares when the songs are this well structured and fun to follow? Rolling waves of grunginess give way to guitar heroics and handclaps on "Floating Vibes". "Take it Easy" shifts back and forth between jittery and groovy, always reiterating its namesake. "Harmonix" begins cutesy but gets otherworldly with disorienting haziness in each chorus.

Surfer Blood offers a nice alternative to Vampire Weekend haters everywhere. Both bands are shameless about their stealing and aim to create something distinct and, above all, fun in their mixing and matching of indie-fluences, but Surfer Blood sounds far less conscious about it. They're more lo-fi, more garage, more laid-back and with those Rivers Cuomo vocals, far more geeky and humble. Identifiable, easy to listen to and enjoyable even after multiple listens, Astro Coast has the potential to become a huge hit.

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