Tag Archives: Surf Rock

La Luz Balance Surf’s Menace and Melody

 

La Luz

Photo by Chona Kasinger

Ever since they first appeared in 2012 with their lush combination of moody surf guitar and luminous girl group harmonies, La Luz have pushed the expressive possibilities of surf into ever more adventurous realms, with songwriting and arrangements that have grown increasingly sophisticated over time. The band’s latest LP, Floating Features, is the most fully-realized version of their sound to date, a record of complex, cerebral rock songs that feel as light and effortless as pop.

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The Future’s So Bright For Indie Pop Group Say Sue Me

Say Sue Me

Photos by Jungran Park

Things that have happened to Say Sue Me in 2018 so far: they’ve been an official SXSW band, embarked on a second tour of the U.K. and western Europe, landed a supporting slot with Japanese Breakfast in Paris, and racked up yards of positive coverage for their second full-length and first international release, Where We Were Together.

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The Vitamin B12 Remains an Elusive Figure in European Improv

Vitamin B12

Some artists, like Beth Gibbons or D’Angelo, allow years—even decades—to pass between releases, so each new album becomes especially momentous and symbolic. Other artists, from Sun Ra to Lil Ugly Mane, release so much music so relentlessly, each album feels less important than the constellation it forms. And then there’s UK-based Alasdair Willis, who makes music under the name The Vitamin B12. Active since the mid ’80s, Willis is primarily known for A legendary 4xLP box set that compiled selections from various free improvisational sessions from his Brighton loft in 1986. In the intervening years, The Vitamin B12 has proven to be an elusive figure in the European free improvisation scene, which also includes acts like Nurse With Wound and H.N.A.S.

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The New Wave of Indie Surf

laluz3-credit-Andrew-Imanaka-1244

La Luz by Andrew Imanaka.

No musical genre embodies the spirit of summer more than surf. It’s the music of Beach Party and the Beach Boys, of vacations and youthful exploits, of innocence and irresponsibility, of endless days bathed in the golden glow of a California sun. Surf is a genre with the uncanny ability to locate the listener in a particular time, place, and season the instant the needle hits the groove.

Rock music is still caught in surf’s undertow nearly half a century after the genre’s birth in the early ‘60s in Orange County, California. Elements of surf wash up regularly in many different genres—garage, lo-fi, indie pop, punk, and shoegaze to name a few—which is a testament to the staying power of a decidedly American, and specifically Californian, form of music.

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Album of the Day, The Buttertones, “Gravedigging”

One word comes to mind mid-way through The Buttertones’ latest effort, and that word is “Trouble.” Every character in the songs on Gravedigging, is either in it, or about to be, and there’s a dark undercurrent to lead singer Richard Araiza’s Jeffrey Lee Peirce-ian croon, making the danger feel both real and imminent.

Opener “Pistol Whip” plays out like a crime of joy. It’s a drunken teenage James Dean smashing tombstones with a hollow bodied guitar, wearing a skull for a mask, egged on by a moody saxophone, the “oohs” in the background sounding like police sirens. There’s a particular menace behind the surf jangle on “Sadie’s A Sadist”; the guitar riffs sound less like strings on a fretboard and more like a handful coins spilling out of snatched purse. In the sorrowful “A Tear for Rosie,” Araiza cries for his beloved; one could almost believe it was a cautionary tale if that driving disco beat didn’t seem to encourage a new set of midnight mistakes.

Since their inception The Buttertones have shown an uncanny ability to conjure cinematic imagery, from the twinkly ‘50s prom from American Brunch’s “Baby Doll” to the oh-so-casual ‘60s indie cocktail lounge of “Reminiscing” on their self-titled debut. There’s a touch of those same elements here (“I Ran Away”), but Gravedigging is more like a beach party movie set in a circle of Dante’s Inferno. The songs are as punchy as they are profane, a bottomless bottle of grim Americana that’s very easy to pick up, but almost impossible to put down.

Sim Jackson 

Fan Interview: Hockey Dad

Billy Fleming and Zach Stephenson
Billy Fleming and Zach Stephenson are Hockey Dad. Photo by Chris Frape
[In our Fan Interviews series, we ask a fan to interview an artist they love. In this installment, Sophie Pengelly interviews the band Hockey Dad. Want to interview your favorite band on Bandcamp? Email us at ‘writers@bandcamp.com’ and let us know!]

My name is Sophie, and I’m a Music Journalism graduate from South Wales who’s currently dipping in and out of minimum wage, bottom-of-the-food-chain jobs while riding out a semi-annual existential crisis. My talents include making long playlists of bad ’00s pop music and asking for allergen lists at restaurants, but one day, I hope to fulfill my life goal of being a contestant on Coach Trip.

It wasn’t long ago that Australian surf-rock duo Hockey Dad appeared on my musical radar and, contrary to the usual habits of Fickle Sophie, they’ve remained in daily rotation for months. The charisma and rawness of their EP Dreamin’ drew me in, and I was eager to find out a bit more about the brains behind it.

Having dipped in and out of projects in their native Wollongong since their early teens, Hockey Dad have recently joined the roster of Kanine Records, home of bands like Chairlift and Braids. With an upcoming North American headline tour on the horizon, plus a highly-anticipated full-length album, Boronia, Hockey Dad are well-positioned to make waves.

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