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Promising debut from South
Florida indie quartet

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
(Kanine Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 5, 2010
Surfer Blood

Review by Tony Bonyata

On Surfer Blood's debut full-length Astro Coast the southern Florida quartet have quite a bit to live up to in just a short time. They've not only been receiving rave reviews for the new album from the likes of Pitchfork, Spin and Rolling Stone, but have been causing a whirlwind of online buzz in indie blog circles as well as scoring some choice opening tour spots, both here in The States and abroad. I often take such early hyperbole with a pinch of salt until I hear it for myself, and, well, it appears I'm not going against the grain on this one.

The album is commandeered by powerful guitars filled with both gorgeous melodies and insatiable hooks, and successfully blends some of the best elements of mid-'80s new wave - assuming you replaced the cheesy synths with lush guitars, early '90s alt-rock (think Pavement and Weezer) and, more apparent, modern indie-rock (which, at times, nods to the blue-eyed, button-down Afro-pop of Vampire Weekend). It's a healthy mix that never treads too far into the past, but still captures the essence of some great music that's gone before them. "Swim," one of the songs from the record that gave the band a big boost when music bloggers got behind it early on, is a spirited call-to-arms anthem complete with a rhythm guitar-line straight out of The Velvet Underground's Loaded album. An infectious rubbery guitar bounces through the infectious "Floating Vibes" and on the jubilant "Neighbor Riffs" lead vocalist JP Pitts takes a break from the mic to let the music shine through on its own. On one of the album's strongest tracks, "Anchorage" Surfer Blood melds the alternative sounds of both Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement, creating a wonderfully new amalgamation of math-rock and indie-soul.

While West Palm Beach, where they hail from, along with their band moniker might give the impression that their music might be baked in the sun-and-sand surfer vibe of The Beach Boys or Jan & Dean, it couldn't, in fact, be farther from it. With that said, however, there's still a sunny, feel-good aura that cries out 'come on in, the water's fine!' throughout these 10 promising tracks.

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