by Bill Pearis
Surfer Blood @ Bruar Falls
Florida's Surfer Blood went from being ignored to super-hyped overnight. One night in particular, actually: August 27, 2009. The band had been in town playing a string of woefully attended gigs. The last was to be at the Surf Bar, only to get a venue change to Bruar Falls that night. Thanks to the Internet, they manage to play to 30-40 people at Bruar that night and I think just about everyone who was at that show felt at least a little like I did:
It's not very often you go into a show blind and leave wowed but that what my reaction to seeing West Palm Beach, Florida's Surfer Blood last night at Bruar Falls. I think I was expecting a slightly poppier take on the shambolic noise skuzz that blows through smaller Williamsburg venues these days. But, despite reverbed vocals and echo guitars effects that would sometimes seize and glitch like an episode of Tim & Eric, Surfer Blood make accomplished, hook-filled indie rock with clever arrangements and great harmonies, as performed by four guys who can actually, you know, play. You hear so little music like this anymore from new bands -- Seattle's BOAT come to mind -- that is this catchy, skilled but not polished. It's not going to change your life or anything (yes, they do sound a little like the Shins), but it'll have you humming and awaiting the next time they come through town.If you were following Twitter that night, you could actually watch the buzz from the Bruar Falls show to the Pitchfork 'Forkcast' the next day. If they'd had one more night in NYC after that, who knows what would've happened.
Their upcoming debut LP, Astro Coast, is choc-full of super catchy indie rock. And soon back for CMJ, if you miss Surfer Blood this time, it's because you're actively trying to avoid them -- according to their MySpace, they're playing 10 shows (announced so far) here next week. If there's a band playing more shows, I haven't heard about it. All dates below including the free BrooklynVegan day party at Pianos on Thursday, October 22nd (noon-6pm) (full details TBA).
Giving them a run for the money is New Zealand's Surf City, easily one of my most-anticipated bands of CMJ 2009, who are playing three official CMJ events and a bunch of day parties. They had a full schedule posted on their MySpace last night including eight area shows...which has since been taken down. Guess things are in flux. It's been a long time since a new Kiwi band so evoked the classic Flying Nun sound, and had such good songs to boot. Not that they've released much to date -- an EP and a song for MORR Music's tribute to Flying Nun is about it -- but everything so far is pretty great, especially if you're a fan of The Clean, Tall Dwarfs, and The Bats. Check out "Records of a Flagpole Skater" and the especially good "Kudos" at the top of this post.
Official CMJ shows: There's an opening night Giant Step party on Tuesday at the Red Bull Space (40 Thompson) where Surf City are part of an all-Kiwi line-up, including Die! Die Die!, Bang Bang Eche, Kingston, Motocade, Kidz In Space, David Dallas, and Smashproof. The show is FREE with RSVP, and you can check out videos and MP3s from all the bands at the RSVP page.
Surf City play again later Tuesday night at Cake Shop with ZZZ, Moi Non Plus and more ($8 without a badge) and then Wednesday (10/21) at The Bell House with Pete & The Pirates, Let's Wrestle, The Love Language, and Dawn Landes. ($14 without badge; advance tickets are available.) Surf City are also on the bill of the other free BrooklynVegan day party at Pianos that is happening on the afternoon of Saturday, October 24th (in partnership with Bowery Presents). Check the band's MySpace hopefully soon for full day party schedule.
All scheduled dates for Surfer Blood (who are also playing a bunch of dates with Art Brut including the November Brooklyn Bowl show) and Surf City, plus videos, below...
Surf City - Dickshaker's Union
Surf City - 2009 CMJ dates
Oct 20 NZ @CMJ showcase New York (college radio CMJ badges only) (or see above)
Oct 20 Cake Shop, NYC
Oct 21 Bell House Brooklyn GCT showcase w/ Pete & The Pirates, Let's Wrestle, The Love Language
Oct 24 Pianos, NYC (free afternoon BrooklynVegan/Bowery Presents day party)
Surfer Blood - "Swim" @ Bruar Falls 8.27.2009
Surfer Blood - 2009 + CMJ Dates
Oct 17 529 w/ Japandroids, Real Estate Atlanta, Georgia
Oct 18 Memorial Hall Harrisburg, Virginia
Oct 20 CMJ Panache Showcase w/ Jon Spencer @ Santos Brooklyn, New York
Oct 20 CMJ Poptarts Suck Toasted Day Party @ Cake Shop w/ Princeton, Holiday Shores New York, New York
Oct 21 Force Field PR CMJ Day Party @ Pianos NEW YORK
Oct 21 CMJ Music Marathon / Kanine Records Showcase @ The Cake Shop New York, New York
Oct 22 free Brooklyn Vegan CMJ day party @ Pianos
Oct 22 free AAM party at The Suffolk, NY, NY (later)
Oct 23 Quiet Color Showcase CMJ @ Market Hotel w/ Sleigh Bells Brooklyn, New York
Oct 23 SESAC Showcase CMJ w/ Crystal Antlers @ Cake Shop New York, New York
Oct 24 After The Jump Party Daytime Show w/ Lovvers Brooklyn, New York
Oct 24 Myopenbar Party CMJ @ Don Pedros Brooklyn, New York
Oct 26 Death By Audio Brooklyn, New York
Oct 31 Moonfest West Palm Beach, Florida
Nov 1 The Fest 8 Gainesville, Florida
Nov 6 Bluebird Theatre w/ Art Brut Denver, Colorado
Nov 7 The Bottleneck w/ Art Brut Lawrence, Kansas
Nov 8 TBA w/ Art Brut Omaha, Nebraska
Nov 9 Triple Rock w/ Art brut Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nov 10 Lincoln Hall w/ Art Brut Chicago, Illinois
Nov 11 TBA w/ Art Brut Ohio, Ohio
Nov 12 First Unitarian Church w/ Art Brut PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
Nov 13 Brooklyn Bowl w/ Art Brut Brooklyn, New York
Nov 20 Billiken Club w/ Japandroids St Louis, Missouri
Nov 21 Slowdown w/ Japandroids Omaha, Nebraska
Nov 25 Casbah w/ Japandroids San Diego, California
Nov 27 Echo W/ Japandroids Los Angeles, California
Nov 27 Will's Pub w/ Blind Man's Colour and Viernes Orlando, Florida
Nov 29 Rickshaw Stop w/ Japandroids San Francisco, California
Nov 30 Holocene w/ Japandroids Portland, Oregon
Dec 1 Chop Suey w/ Japandroids Seattle, Washington