1000 Palms

Surfer Blood

Joyful Noise, 2015


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


I've never thought of 311 as the sort of band that inspired anything except for disc golf and getting high in the basement, but the sound and feel of that Nebraska band runs deep through Surfer Blood's new album. Recorded in an attic studio, the disc has a loose, charming feel that blends elements of indie pop, mid ‘60s British Invasion pop, and washed-out surf rock.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Much of 311's work was like that, too, but there were moments of edge, bittersweet yearning and/or sharp hooks that elevated their best songs. Unfortunately, much of this disc doesn't have any of those traits, settling for a pleasant, sunny feel in service of mediocre songs. "Island" is perhaps the standout, recalling the band's debut Astro Coast and the strong "Harmonix" from that album with its melancholy brooding over a lilting beat and insistent guitar fuzz fills.

"Grand Inquisitor" is nearly a direct 311 homage for the first half before abruptly switching to a midtempo rocker with some muscle, yet the change feels forced, like two different songs shoehorned together. "Point Of No Return" is better, a simple background guitar riff setting the stage as the restrained drums and John Paul Pitts' keening voice carry the song into swaths of setting sun-orange.

The music sort of peters out after "Point Of No Return," at least until the acoustic closing track "NW Passage," which switches up the sound but not the approach and appears to be one of the nicer post-breakup songs in recent memory. It's hardly memorable, though, just like most of 1000 Palms. Granted, it's hard to work up many bad things to say because the music is so laidback and unassuming, but those moments that need to be there to make music like this truly stick are few and far between. Not a bad disc, and its charms will appeal to some, but not a very interesting one either.

Rating: C-

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