Em Bell (Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics)
When you release a single called Swim all the way back in 2009 and you’re marked as the next big thing, there is definitely a certain amount of pressure on you. Now back with a record label under their indie belt and lots of respect in the world of music, this rock bank from West Palm Beach in Florida releases their first proper release since Astro Coast in early 2010 and its 15 easy minutes. So I’m going to make the review equally short and sweet.
This four track album is performed by four rocker members, John Paul Pitts (lead vocals/guitar), Thomas Fekete (guitar/backing vocals), Kevin Williams (bass guitar/backing vocals) and Tyler Jerry “TJ” Schwarz (drums). Now signed to Warner Bros. Records, Surfer Blood are worth keeping an eye on. Let’s hope they don’t disappear into the mainstream requirements of pop pandering because if they stick to the soft rock sounds that they were noticed for then they won’t be going anywhere.
The album begins with I’m Not Ready, which is a quietly confident, catchy, light hearted and sturdy opening. With bright sounds and crisp handclaps this song is beach pop at its best, in the spirit of Astro Coast. The second track, Miranda, is faster and takes a different direction to the music we are used to hearing from them. A darker texture, bass pulse and a slightly mind numbing repetition of the word ‘Miranda’, Surfer Blood start to takes things just a bit deeper, opening up from everything that was expected from them.
The penultimate track on the EP, Voyager Reprise, comes across as a mix between something The Strokes would produce and just a little of bit something else. It’s slow, sturdy and just a bit more melancholy, with a sense of longing in the ballad. Lastly, Drinking Problem comes in with a shimmering synth melody, a lonely keyboard and haunting bass.
Four completely different tracks showing you that they have grown up, can give you variety and have lots more to come. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed each and every song and indie pop is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I hope they aren’t straying too far from that beach sound that they were spotted for? After nearly a two year wait partnered with the hype you kind of want a bit more than 15 minutes of sunny love but it’s 15 minutes of easy listening which shows you that Florida might be a little colder and a little bigger than you thought.
Ed Lines (Tribes – We Were Children)
With the debut album Baby due out this month, We Were Children is a hopefully a three minute sign of things to come from theCamden four-piece. Many of you may have seen them atReading,Leeds or Bestival last summer where this tune was a fans favourite, especially if you were a child in the mid 90’s.
Harry Harland (The Maccabees – Pelican)
The Maccabees are one of those bands that I’ve always appreciated without ever being a cast-iron fan of. Their first two albums were good, solid uplifting indie rock, the sort of which you could delve into at your whim and enjoy, yet somehow failed to leave a lasting impression. A good live act as well, I’ve seen and liked them at countless festivals, but somehow have failed to muster any personal enthusiasm to go to one of their gigs. This could be about to change though.
New single Pelican is the sort of euphoric anthem that their last album hinted at (Can you give it? especially), but generally they have been lacking. The guitars staccato over a funky bassline and build to a whirlwind of a chorus, where Orlando Weeks’ gentle voice sweeps majestically across a wonderfully simple, spiraling riff. It’s a cracking track and bodes extremely well for new album Given to the Wild (out on Monday).
I have no doubt it will go down a storm at festivals over the summer, while (of less consequence to them, I’m sure) they play BrixtonAcademyon 26th January and Pelican has finally persuaded me to be there.