Upon receiving a review copy of Surf City, the new EP from
the young New Zealand band of the same name, my initial impression
was something along the lines of "cool, surf music from some
of the biggest reef country the far side of the moon from Huntington
Beach." The promo materials even made the obligatory Dick
Dale reference. As an old time gremmie with a deep and abiding
love of heavily reverbed instrumental surf guitar, I expected to be
in for a treat. Notwithstanding the first few seconds of the record's
opening track, "Headin' Inside", neither the label's misguided
publicist nor I could be more wrong. But so what? The record's pretty
damn good - not for what it isn't, but for what it is.
Surf City is a collection of four lads from the land of kiwis
and the haka, who have a keen grasp of energetic melody, pacing, and
the entire Jesus & Mary Chain back catalog. Their EP checks
in at a crisp 19 minutes across seven tracks, each of which is a tasty
slab of power pop and nods towards old school Australasian punk pop
of the 70s and early 80s (think Hoodoo Gurus, The Scientists,
Lime Spiders, Split Enz, etc.), the rapid chiming guitars
of The Wedding Present, and yes, even the occasional wink of
the eye to a double-picked surf run. And all of this is accomplished
in a wonderfully appropriate low-fi recording that revels in the natural
boisterous tendencies of the band without dragging the final produced
down the descent into mud.
Simply put, there is not a clunker to be found in the bunch. From
the roller rink organ, rapid fire hi-hat, and jagged guitar of "Records
Of A Flagpole Sitter", to the desperate, near Wolf Parade-like
vocal stylings found in "Dickshakers Union", to the retro
dance rock of "Free The City", this EP is consistent throughout.
While it is never truly mindblowing, it is always entertaining, and
holds up well to repeated listening. Surf City appears to have a firm
grasp of the true essence and source of power pop, and aural rewards
await those who can tolerate the somewhat rawer nature of their recordings.
These days, it seems to be hip to be a kiwi with a guitar, especially
if you can wangle an HBO show out of being a silly hack from the land
next to the land down under. But never mind the Conchords,
Surf City is the real deal.
-David Meyer (mondogarage)
Check out more
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!