Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

Florida’s Surfer Blood may look like an odd ball bunch of geeks but don’t dismiss them on looks alone – they are churning out some of the best indie-rock around.

Seeing them live recently I got to know (or rather imagine) a little more about what drives this, at times loud, at times bitter sweet, new indie band on the scene. There’s a controlled anger, a sense of “look at what I’ve achieved” from this group of geeks.

From the bad jumper wearing guitarist and bassist, the chubby lead singer and  crazy haired percussionist this band are loud and proud and are saying to the world, the jocks at school and the smart kids – “we are a rock band and we don’t give a fuck.”

Well that was the thought that went through my head as I watched them. In reality I suspect they are probably pretty normal and just like playing music. Nevertheless I like the idea of angry young geeks belting out music at the world so I’ll stick with it for now.

On to the album Astro Coast, which was released in the US earlier this year where it reached an almost mighty 124 in the Billboard album charts. This week it gets a UK release and for those like us who have seen them live a chance to own their controlled anger on CD.

As debuts go its already a modern indie classic. Full of  a marvellous mix of riffs, indie rock influences including Sonic Youth and Pavement, passionate singing and some neat tricks as well, such as the guitar harmonics on the Beatles-esque ‘Harmonix’. As the name of the band suggests surf rock also figures strongly, with the genre’s reverb twangs strewn across the ten tracks.

Among the obvious standouts are the first single from the album ‘Swim’ and ‘Take It Easy’, but further down there are other gems. Opener ‘Floating Vibes’ sees a whole bunch of riffs intertwining like Pavement at their catchiest. It is little surprise that Pavement chose them as one of the acts for their ATP Festival (review here) in the UK this year.

Other standouts include ‘Neighbour Riffs’, which showcases some stunning guitar arrangements and ‘Twin Peaks’, which is another unfathomably catchy track.

What is perhaps most striking is that this appears to be a band devoid of pretention. They even title most of their songs as they sound. This is a highly consistent debut, a great guitar album full of passion and honesty. Indie rock as it should be played.

9/10

by Joe Lepper, June 2010

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