Surfers Stumble out the Karaoke Bar

Surfer Blood

Astro Coast

Kanine Records

This Florida band’s name might sound like a late-night B-movie, but the debut album from Surfer Blood is just as velvet-soft and vox-dominated as anything by the Shins or the Smiths. These indie-rockers are so new, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page (I admit it, I looked), but they’re already knee-deep in dust — covered in such a film that five minutes after you turn off your iPod, you’ve forgotten everything but a five-second lick.

Linchpin of their sudden popularity “Swim” starts off with a catchy hook and Benatar-esque power chords, but the riffs start rambling halfway through, and the track drowns in distortion. The vocals echo so long, it’s like bad karaoke: The chorus is the only time we can make out the words.

Astro Coast does serve up a few clean cuts, especially “Neighbour Riffs,” an instrumental with ringing guitars much like Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover.” Other than that, though, the only bright sides are “Take It Easy” and closer “Catholic Pagans.” We can hear the lyrics, but they still don’t make much sense: “Please don’t padlock/ Your parents’ bomb shelter/” It’s ridiculous, but “Easy”’s tropical toe-tapping groove mesmerizes us into not caring about even the most terrible lyrics.

“Easy” and “Pagans” might get the fuzz-meter right, but they can’t save Coast. Surfer Blood did record the album in a dorm room, so a little professional mixing might make all the difference. For now, if we want to spend almost an hour wondering what’s going on, we’d be better off in the last row of o-chem.

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