Thursday, January 14, 2010

Battle Royale: Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood dropped their debut album Astro Coast on tuesday to a salivating public who was introduced to this young band via their incredible single "Swim (to reach the end)". The release saw something very interesting happen here on the TOME, Ryan and Crawford ended up disagreeing (!) on the worth of this album. This rarely happens so we thought we would mark the occasion by a good old fashioned grudge match. Crawford says its one of the best releases so far this year, Ryan says, "meh". Ryan's slovenly argument is presented below. Stick around for Crawford's rejoinder tomorrow. Like this scary shark cover Surfer Blood is severing limbs and once unanimous musical enthusiasm for releases.

Surfer Blood comes to us dressed in a similar package that Girls did last year. A band with an absolutely killer single and cool back story (although waaay less crazy than Girls) in the year previous drops their long awaited debut albums with tunes with nostalgia turned to 11. By now you know the story, freshmen dorm-mates at University of Florida record album in their room, the appropriate hype machines take notice, release single, we salivate over debut. Now debut drops and I apologize, I really do, I just can’t get behind this young band. Although Crawford disagrees sincerely, I can’t help but notice the distinct Vampire Weekend influence. And I am not saying that Vampire Weekend is the worst band in the world, but the whole precious poly-rhythm afro-pop thing, when is that going to run its course? I can’t even really get into the whole Nineties alternative rock tag without getting caught up on the staccato guitar playing and start-stop time changes that comes close to near Talking Heads worship. I mean they use a pan-flute for goodness sakes! The albums saving grace is “Swim (to reach the end)”, where is that raw aggression and super-awesome reverby vocals on that anthemic chorus on the rest of the album? Instead we are left with vapid tales of lust and David Lynch on the cowbell heavy “Twin Peaks”, the uninspired “Anchorage”, and the carbon copy VW stylings on “Take It Easy”. All I can say is that I am glad this wasn’t recorded two years ago or it would be covered beneath a grating sheen of distortion instead of the relatively clean recording we get here. They say youth is wasted on the young, so it will be very interesting to see where these rag-tag group of non-surfers take their music in the coming years. I will be all ears.

Ryan H.

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