Album: Surfer Blood 'Astro Coast'

It’s an opportunity to share a room with a complete stranger. Witness their habits and organise a rota for which nights you are free to invite over lady friends. Despite the prospect of being coupled with an insomniac, or worse still a party pooper, American college dorms are viewed with an air of romanticism. Apparently they make for good recording spaces too, just ask Florida Uni Alumni Surfer Blood who’s January release ‘Astro Coast’ was recorded in theirs. Until this release I would have associated noises and college dorms with hearing medic housemates enjoy a kiss and a cuddle in the next room. However, Surfer Blood’s D.I.Y college ‘wall of sound’, and the resulting peach of an album, looks set to be one of the breakthroughs of next year. The University of Florida’s dorm application service is going to be busy.

‘Astro Coast’ has slowly been gathering hype online, especially since everyone’s favourite tip for next year The Drums tipped the band themselves. It seems in this ‘ones to watch’ culture soon music journalists will be forced to asked those who are bound for success to suggest more bands, who in turn will suggest a band, and so on. But Surfer Blood sound like exactly that, another band affiliated to this apparent surf-rock revival; Kelly Slater’s Haemoglobin with Shins-esque vocals. As a chap who has been lucky enough to sit through hours of ‘recommendations’ in recent weeks I welcome any Surf-Rock, Garage Revival, especially if it’s to sound like this.

Over the past month I’ve been internet-less. Modern day Tiny Tim I know, but it does mean I’ve given this album a fair old listen since I got it in November. As an album it’s incredibly easy to listen to uninterrupted, regardless of how much new music you have at your disposal. Tracks 1 and 2 ‘Floating Vibes’ and ‘Swim’ are perhaps the 2 most obvious singles, both catchy, punchy, retro-garage sounding tracks that draw similarities to The Shins and My Morning Jacket as much as they do Vampire Weekend. ‘Take It Easy’ is a personal favourite, a dreamy, afro-beat, hazy summer hit of a track complete with a long instrumental outro that I wanted to loop for the entirety of any journey I was trying to escape. Next ‘Harmonix’ and instrumental ‘Neighbor Riffs’ evoke similar influences and emotions, ‘Harmonix’ a drifting, slower track with prominent guitar work. Whilst ‘Twin Peaks’ is every bit as captivating as earlier tracks, with echoed Shinslike vocals and a chorus straight from Weezer’s blue album.

The test for an album like this has to be that I can listen to it in the rain and snow of the West Country, despite the fact it’s essentially a soundtrack to summer, more at home on Palm Beach than Weston Super Mare. It’s a brilliant album and one I will be buying officially when it comes out late January. Those of you who are lucky enough to live in London the band are treating you to 4 dates in early February. One, aptly, at Kingston’s ‘New Slang’ with Pete and the Pirates, that certainly is a gig worth attending. Alas, I will be back at University, attempting to record a Surf-Rock, lo-fi masterpiece of my own.

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Live Review: Good Shoes

It’s been over two years since Good Shoes released their debut album, Think before You Speak, and 3 years since they’re early demos dominated British music website discussion boards. For a band who have been extremely quiet throughout most of 2008 and 2009 tonight’s turn out is testament to their sound, especially in the stronghold for lad-rock that is Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. This considered the current tour is quite a change for a band that, in 2007, headlined the 2,000 capacity Astoria. It’s an opportunity for the band to almost start from scratch and play those kind of back of pub venues full of sweaty teens that their music led’s itself to.

Lead singer Rhys Jones fully embraces the intimate setting throughout the set, warning me in the interview prior to the gig that he’s prepared to join the crowd as many times as it takes to get them animated and rowdy. Despite the stagnant crowd’s best efforts the band remains upbeat and uses the opportunity to play a selection of tracks off the impending 2nd album ‘No Hope, No Future’. It’s difficult to judge them after one listen, and with the new wave of tracks ‘The Way My Heart Beats’ already seems like a classic. ‘Under Control’ has quickly found itself a crowd favourite and a couple of new tracks show the band perhaps going for a more angular, distorted sound with this follow up.

In with the new tracks were the expected, established hits from the debut album, Ice Age, Small Town Girl and Morden all sounding sharper and speeder than ever. An exuberant, enthusiastic gig marks the return of Good Shoes and on tonight’s evidence the band’s brand of jaunty indie pop look set to find it’s home once again on national radio playlists and in larger venues across the U.K.

Good Shoes Myspace

Good Shoes Interview Edit by nsrstationmanager


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