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Surfer Blood: Astro Coast in "Nothing Not New"

Welcome to "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

  Title: Astro Coast
  Release date: January 19, 2010
  Label: Kanine

On, the hipster's bible for all things music, the Florida quintet known as Surfer Blood is one of the most heavily hyped soon-to-be-all-the-rage indie bands. In "Best Hope for 2010" category of Pitchfork's readers poll released last week, Surfer Blood came in at number five. All this buzz for a band that's been around for less than a year yet has toured relentlessly in that short time and played a bunch of shows at last year's CMJ Music Marathon in New York. They even played at Trunk Space in Phoenix last month. Maybe you're one of the few in attendance that night who can say, "I was there when Surfer Blood were nobodies."

Surfer Blood's debut record, Astro Coast, is full of rough edges, and that's a good thing. In spirit and execution and hooks, it instantly reminded me of Pavement's Perfect Sound Forever EP. And just as Pavement (and The Pixies, for that matter) did, I can see Surfer Blood turning "pro" and losing a lot of its charm. So I'll enjoy them for the short time they'll be young, scrappy, and clearly having a good time making rock music together.

Despite what you may read about it, Astro Coast is not surf-y (though the guitar and vocals are often heavily reverbed and the band is from sunny West Palm Beach) and it is not lo-fi (though it is decidedly not slick). The production is actually really good, bringing out some great hooks and melodies all while allowing the band's looseness to remain intact and some of its noisier tendencies to prevail.

Because some comparisons between the two bands will inevitably be made, I'll throw my two cents in: Surfer Blood is way better than Wavves.

Agree or disagree with the hype? Let me know what you think about Surfer Blood in the comments section below or e-mail [email protected].

Best track: "Fast Jabroni," though I believe "Swim" is the first single off Astro Coast. "Fast Jabroni" is a great two-chord pop song. "Swim" is basically the riff for "Sweet Jane" turned upside down and augmented by the guitar "siren" part of Pat Benatar's "Shadow of the Night" (nice touch, btw). Opening track "Floating Vibes" is solid and "Neighborhood Riffs," an instrumental, is real good, too. 
Rotation: I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this one a lot while my 2010 library is still limited.
Déja Vú: Early Pavement
I'd rather listen to: The Ponys
Grade: B+

On Monday in "Nothing Not New": The new record by The Editors.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett