If, upon hearing of a band named Surf City, the first things that come to mind are, first, surf music, and second, the Jesus and Mary Chain song “Kill Surf City,” then you’re adequately prepared for New Zealand band Surf City’s debut EP. The band kicks off their self-titled release with a reverb-heavy surf guitar riff, introducing themselves in the most appropriate means possible, while following it up with fuzzed-out melodies heavily indebted to the Brothers Reid. Given this information, one might easily reach the conclusion that this band is a lot of fun, which is absolutely correct.
One of few bands on German Morr Music that has little use for bleepy, laptop electronics, Surf City is a guitar band, and very explicitly so. Their guitars aren’t intrusive or overbearing in a Van Halen sense, but that said, just about everything on this EP is washed with heavy torrents of reverb-addled chords. And guitars are something they do quite well. That surfy leadoff track, “Headin’ Inside,” shoots out a jolt of spunky, fuzzbox energy and kiwipop charm. The band’s charmingly cluttered, well controlled, but amplified and energetic to the point that they seem on the verge of stumbling over one another, yet this chaotic clang manages to hold together impeccably. “Records of a Flagpole Skater” is even more strongly influenced by JAMC, with a bit of New Order as well–think “Ceremony” on Psychocandy and you’re just about there.
“Dickshakers Union,” in spite of its title, has a blissful quality about it, not nearly as dense as the preceding tracks, while “Canned Food” hits peak intensity, soaring powerfully during its instrumental chorus. “Free the City” ends the brief set with a glimmering, glorious pop melody, reminiscent of both late ’80s New Zealand and mid-’80s Manchester. Though most of what you need to know about Surf City lies in the group’s name, it should be enough to know that you need to hear this wonderful EP.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.