Surfer Blood | Astro Coast
Most Likely To: make you like them.
If you’re a die-hard music fan, it’s easy to get swept up by Surfer Blood’s wave of mutilation. This Florida-based four-piece (+1 on tour) borrows liberally from their musical forbears, making their music practically easy listening for anyone who was born and raised on College Rock or early Alternative. Though they will deny and deny, rock critics like nothing more than to be reminded that they can’t escape the music that raised them. And the next thing you know, Surfer Blood is playing ten CMJ shows, and getting all kinds of attention from music blogs, Rolling Stone, and KEXP before they have even released their debut, Astro Coast.
How might all this déjà vu come about, you ask? First, the lead singer sounds eerily like Rivers Cuomo. But the dude can’t help how his voice comes out, yet the band insists on placing it in undeniably Weezer-esque settings, from the handclaps and backing vocals on “Floating Vibes,” and the falsetto on “Twin Peaks” (the guitar melody here also recalls The Associations’ “Everybody knows it’s Windy,”) to the bridge on “Catholic Pagan.”
However, if Cuomo’s efforts for the last decade have left you hollow inside, then first single “Swim” is a damn good substitute. On “Anchorage,” Surfer Blood also rip off The Pixies’ drumbeat from “Gigantic.” They ape Low-Life era New Order on “Neighbor Riffs.” On “Harmonix,” their minor chord choppiness is pure Interpol (which really means Gang of Four and Joy Division, depending on how far back you want to go). Even their concert t-shirts feature a slight re-imagining of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures cover. Where the mountains are changed into, you guessed it, waves! Because surfers love waves, right?
I do not mean to suggest that Surfer Blood should sound nothing like their influences because that is, after all, the Rock-n-Roll way. The Stones had to record 12 x 5 before they could create Exile on Main Street, but they were always a blues outfit. Despite having created a debut that’s catchy and enjoyable, Surfer Blood seems phony because they jump around recreating other people’s ideas so faithfully that they render their own work soulless. Nearly every song on the record reminds me of another specific song and repeated listens do not cause this memory to fade. The boys deserve an A+ for mimicry and a C for creativity.
Watch Surfer Blood perform “Floating Vibes”: