Surfer Blood!

Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood is sure to be one of the next big indie things in 2010 with the album “Astro Coast”, from Kanine Records, kicking some hook-laden, indie rock ass and taking names.

Surfer Blood "Astro Coast"

Single “Swim (To Reach the End)” gets noted for its “Weezer-esque power pop chorus,” and though this comparison has merit, the song reminds me as much of Cheap Trick as it does anything, which is maybe a way of recognizing that Rivers Cuomo has likely heard a Cheap Trick album or two. At any rate, these guys more than capably aid and abet the usual suspects from the 90’s alt-rock scene, like the aforementioned Weezer, the Pixies, and Built to Spill, as well as some lesser-knowns like Polvo and Versus, which are the bands that first come to mind when I listen to the song “Floating Vibes”. 

Listen to the album below. Read a review of “Astro Coast” written for Dusted (online magazine) here.

This week “Swim” is available to download for free from the excellent Other Music here.

High School Musical

The movie “Adventureland” is a story of post-graduate hope and fear, blues and romance, as seen through the eyes of a recent college graduate, but I relate to the story more if I think of its hero as a recent high school graduate. This is partly because the character’s sexual innocence and social ineptitude remind me more of a high school graduate than of a college graduate, but mostly because the film, set in 1987, has a soundtrack loaded with songs that take me right back to my own high school experience, which began in 1987, and so manages to be a great soundtrack for my own high school musical.

The songs in the film cover an impressive amount of 80’s musical ground, from Rush to The Replacements, Judas Priest to The Jesus and Mary Chain, and overall the music goes a long way toward helping the film achieve its sweetly nostalgic tone. Each song hits me emotionally in its own way, but it is the INXS song, “Don’t Change”, that rolls with the closing credits, that lands the most powerful blow. It is so simple, so hopeful, and so goddamn romantic that it manages to perfectly capture the youthful sense of promise in leaving one thing behind and embracing another, while at the same time embodying the youthful belief that something lost can be found again.

I like a song that can take me to such a place in my mind, if only because now, though I still recognize the promise in life, such recognition is heavy with the weight of countless promises broken, mostly by me, and as much to myself as to others. “Don’t Change” manages to remind me that the world hasn’t stopped being a magical place just because I’ve grown cynical enough to not believe in magic so much as I did when I was younger. It reminds me to not steep so long in the mistakes of my past that I become bitter with regret, but to instead remember what it was like to be a starry-eyed, hopeless fucking romantic and put a little of that into each new day.

Spoon!

The new Spoon album, “Transference”, is steaming on npr. It’s a little different, it’s a lot good, it’s out on January 19 from Merge. Check it out here.

Waterloo Records will host an appearance by Spoon on January 25, to be held in the parking lot to accomodate the local heroes’ hard-won and well-deserved popularity. And I bet there will be some cds and and lps for sale, too. If you’re in Austin, go buy some. Check here for details.

Crazy Heart

Just saw the film Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, an aging, hard-living country singer/songwriter struggling to still make something of a career, and life, he mostly drank away. Jeff Bridges, looking like a broken-down, washed-up Kris Kristofferson, gives one hell of a performance as a faded country star whose songs come, as he says, from “life, unfortunately.” But as great as the performance is, this is a movie that wouldn’t work without the songs to back up this claim, and the songs in this movie, produced by T Bone Burnett and largely co-written by Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton, are note perfect. Title song “The Weary Kind (Theme from ‘Crazy Heart’)” carries the subtle redemption at the emotional core of the story and was written by Ryan Bingham, with Burnett listed as a co-writer. It’s sure to bring some class and quality to the “Best Original Song” Oscar category this year. Check it out…

Bingham, sounding world-weary, honest, and true, sings the version that plays over the credits, but the version in the film itself is sung by Bridges in an appropriately whiskey-soaked and nicotine-stained rasp, as are all of Bad Blake’s country nuggets…