It’s almost winter, and therefore the window is closing for being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt without dying or worse. That’s why we should all be thankful that Surf City’s just released their new album Kudos. If it isn’t apparent from their name, Surf City’s brand of lo-fi summer rock is pretty much what you want to listen to when you’re surfing, or at least when you’re kicking it in this place. Awesome prequels aside, if the music or band name aren’t summer themed enough for you, the band is from New Zealand. People from New Zealand are like this. If that doesn’t cheer you up about your restricted wardrobe, then try giving Kudos a listen.
Seriously, though, this album’s pretty damn good. Working with drums, bass, a couple guitars, and vocals, Surf City gets a lot of sound out of few musical elements. The psychedelic distortion of both guitar and vocals helps give some depth to their sound, but the music manages to remain pleasantly simple. An effective use of background vocals gives the album a good ethereal, summer feeling, but it’s never too light or easily digestible. The band lists Pavement on their Myspace page as one of their biggest influences, and if you throw in a little Sex Pistols and a tiny bit of Animal Collective, the comparison is not so far off. Kudos lacks the versatility of an album like Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, as Surf City’s sound can get repetitive at times, but they make up for it by having a sound worth repetition.
In other words, the band simply does a good job of rocking out. In place of catchy hooks and choruses you’ll find a thirty second jam session at the end of most songs, giving the album a much more earnest sound. The second track “See How the Sun” is definitely catchy, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with cuteness like Phoenix or Passion Pit might. Track six, “Yakuza Park” is the closest on the album to sounding like Animal Collective, and I wish Surf City did a little more of the type of experimentation found on this track. Still, they do a brilliant job of making me forget that I have to wear pants every day for the next four months, and that’s enough for me to know this band’s got potential.
–Adam Greenberg, co-host of dc ba (Mondays 6-7pm)