Category: Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood – 1000 Palms

ARTIST: Surfer Blood 220px-1000_Palms

TITLE: 1000 Palms

YEAR RELEASED: 2015

CHART ACTION:  #160, #11 Indie, #16 Rock

SINGLES: Grand Inquisitor, I Can’t Explain

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: John Paul Pitts, Thomas Fekete, Kevin Williams, Tyler Schwartz, Michael McCleary.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Returning to the indie labels, Surfer Blood makes a looser record, but not a better record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It seems that Surfer Blood, as time has gone on, has cut down on the elements that made them unique – their unpredictability. Even a return to the indie label circuits didn’t make them more adventurous. Instead, it codified their safety in their formula where they would have melodies somewhat buried in dense but sonically safe production.

“Grand Inquisitor” starts things out fine and hopeful, with tempo and sonic changes in a short period of time, but from there, the record becomes less and less memorable, with songs almost interchangeable for the most part. Only the final track, “NW Passage” changes it up a bit, moving into indie pop / folk land. That’s nice but not what they’re known for and it’s not their best work.

While decent, this is kind of disappointing and it really lost the band some momentum that they’d never recover.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Guitarist Thomas Fekete was diagnosed with sarcoma., and had to leave the band shortly after recording. He passed away in 2016.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B-: Decent enough, but it’s disappointing that they didn’t take more chances.

Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics

ARTIST: Surfer Blood                       tarotclassics

TITLE:  Tarot Classics

YEAR RELEASED: 2011

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Miranda

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe? College radio would have eaten this up.

LINEUP: John Paul Pitts, Tyler Schwartz, Kevin Williams, Thomas Fekete

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The final independent release for the band blasts away quite a bit of the distortion and leaves the listener impressed with their knack for melody.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Before leaving for a major label, Surfer Blood gave the world Tarot Classics, a very tuneful four song EP with two (remixes) that you can take or leave.

The songs definitely show a knack for hooks and melody, and John Paul Pitts seems to have left a lot of the distortion behind even though the love for the Pixies that show through in the tunes.

The two remixes waste time – a four track EP would have been nice.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They moved from Kanine to Warner Brothers after this EP.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  Four nice tracks, but the two remixes drag it way down.

Surfer Blood – Pythons

ARTIST: Surfer Blood                                                                                                                     pythons

TITLE:  Pythons

YEAR RELEASED: 2013

CHART ACTION: #127

SINGLES: Demon Dance

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe some on college radio.

LINEUP: John Paul Pitts, Tyler Schwarz, Thoma Fekete, Kevin Williams

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A less noisy, more poppy effort that cut the distortion and let the songs come through.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Their love of distortion was tempered on this, their major label debut, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser effort or that they sold out.

Instead, they let the distortion be an accent and the melodies and hooks come through clearly. While some didn’t agree with this change, what it meant was a more accessible album for casual fans, while keeping the songwriting and feel (without a lot of cluttery noise).

There’s still some guitar heft, and definite Pixies influence here. It’s a darn good modern pop record, and a fun listen.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: John Paul Pitts had some legal troubles resulting from a domestic incident in 2012, and that delayed the record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes – two extra songs

GRADE: A-:  It’s a nice, pleasant listen that you’ll be humming along to in no time.

Surfer Blood – Astro Coast

ARTIST: Surfer Blood 220px-Astrocoast
TITLE: Astro Coast
YEAR RELEASED: 2010
CHART ACTION: #124
SINGLES: Swim, Slow Jabroni, Take It Easy, Floating Vibes
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No
LINEUP: John Paul Pitts, Thomas Fekete, Brian Black, Tyler Schwarz
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Reverb heavy fuzzy-guitared rock band evoked the surf-rock era mixed with modern guitar sounds. The result is an interesting concoction

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For me, this was a hard album to understand at first. I didn’t quite know what they were getting at, but it finally hit me that they WERE trying to be nostalgic and modern at the same time. Their ‘noise’ comes out only when they need it to, and their melodies can carry the day as well.

The sound is heavy on the reverb, and some of that is because it was recorded and mixed in Pitts’ apartment. I hope his neighbors didn’t complain!

There are worse ways to spend 40 minutes, and it’s good that some younger bands are embracing the guitar and mixing genres in interesting ways.

NOTES & MINUTAE: “Swim” was recently featured on the Netflix show Daredevil.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B: Fans of fuzzy guitars should apply.