Monday, February 8, 2010

Blood in the Water

Astro Coast
Surfer Blood

As I continue to sit back and drink in the year, what pleases me most is that some of the strongest entries thus far have been from veritable non-entities, or at least from bands I've certainly never heard of before. Four Tet and Beach House have issued two of the best albums of the year, and I wouldn't have known either of them prior to those releases (There is Love in You and Teen Dream, respectively). Keep in mind, by the way, as I strive to point out my inconsistencies, that Spoon's excellent Transference will top at least Four Tet's album in my year-end list, despite having received an inferior grade.

Anyway, why we're here. There continues to be an upswing in excellent albums from people I don't know. Surfer Blood, a Florida-based guitar band, are releasing their debut, and it's remarkable how familiar it feels on the first listen. Think The Shins (sporadically, here and there), just a bit. Think Vampire Weekend (on 'Take it Easy'), oddly enough. Think Weezer, mostly. That's what this is. I read a review, in Spin I believe, which stated that the melodies in this album show latter-day Rivers Cuomo who's daddy. And what's wonderful is that's entirely accurate. Weezer haven't made an album this good in at least ten years, if ever. Keep in mind I'm not a huge fan.

What we have here is a young band with great ability for songcraft and loads of ambition. It's a sign both of their hubris and flat-out skill that two of these tracks, "Fast Jabroni" and "Slow Jabroni," are, musically, the same song; the latter has different lyrics and a tempo that's 50% of the former's. And it works. These songs come with "Stadium-Sized" stamped on the label, and I would be surprised if they didn't reach that scale within an album or two. It sounds like these boys deserve it and, more importantly, want it.

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