Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In the space of six months Florida’s Surfer Blood have gone from totally obscure half-assed uni students having a bash to being the darlings of Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and any other music website dedicated to busting the next hip thing. And it’s not without some justification that their star should be rising so quickly.
Astro Coast sounds like a début; not much musical variation, a few (very) key influences, a clutch of short songs and more ideas than a Twilight Zone box set. Unfortunately, almost without exception, these ideas are not their own.
From the arresting cover art inward, this band are about making an impact and their surf-toned 50s-style melodic rock filtered through mid-90s indie record collection and a attitude toward songwriting that suggests once they find their own voice, they’ll make exciting music. Astro Coast is simply more button pushing from a smart, hyped US rock group.
First single and second track here Swim (to reach the end) has irresistible hook after catchy melody and is a highlight, though many of the songs are slower and happy to let the sunshine glint off their metallic sheen. Apparently, the album was recorded in their dorm room and there is a lo-fi edge to these tunes, which perfectly showcases their roughness, sorely needed to keep the band from being sued by Rivers Cuomo or Dean Mercer.
Local band The Harpoons mine a similar vein though with a stronger 50s influence, more original songs and less interest in being cool. The riffs come thick and fast here and the strong influence of The Shins and Arcade Fire looms large, especially Anchorage which rips off the melody from Arcade Fire’s Crown of Love wholesale. Though plagiarising the past has been the moniker of bands from the previous decade it seems we can’t expect the New Year to bring new ideas. It would be nice to be able to celebrate a fresh album with some guitar-heavy optimism that wasn’t generated by cut and pasting some of the previous decades best bands. Despite this, it’s hard to resist the bright if exhaustible appeal of opener Floating Vibes, or a song about sitting on a couch with a girl who loves David Lynch, called Twin Peaks.