Swearin' - Surfing Strange (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Surfing Strange (2013)

Salinas Records

For those requiring a brief history lesson to set the scene for this review, once upon a time there was a band called P.S. Eliot, started by the Crutchfield sisters, Katie and Allison, and that band produced some great pop/rock-tinged indie tunes in the time they were together. Once they disbanded, Katie went on to form Waxahatchee whilst Allison ended up as one quarter of the personnel responsible for Swearin' – for the record, both bands also include Keith Spencer on bass. In some ways both outfits are similar, featuring as they do a rudimentary approach that doesn't need to over-complicate the music or the sound that is produced, yet both providing enough interest to keep listeners engaged through slightly different end products.

Surfing Strange is not an album that will set the pulse racing with fist-pumping songs, but it does occasionally unleash some fine moments of warm, up-tempo fuzziness that brings to mind a host of luminaries from the golden age of college rock or whatever one might want to call it. These moments are interspersed with a sense of space and sparseness, where songs are simple in all manner of delivery, but that basic approach allows them to blossom, be it from the more relaxed tunes to those where they get the head nodding appreciably and those which combine both approaches.

Any band who feature three vocalists are already onto a winner in terms of allowing variety to sneak into their work and that's certainly the case here, with Crutchfield offering up the sweet, reserved performance whilst Kyle Gilbride takes on the role of aggressor, or as much of one as Swearin' possess, with bassist Keith Spencer offering an understated role when front and centre. The songs that work best for me are "Echo Locate" which builds from a quiet, slow start to a coda offering a kind of crunchy Dinosaur Jr freakage, that the band seem to, successfully, call on now and again.

Swearin' only released their first LP last year so this is a relatively quick follow-up, although both records possess different qualities with the self-titled debut being a bit more consistent in the style and content whereas I'm finding Surfing Strange has a bit more substance and variety. Neither betters the other but they complement each other nicely forming the bulk of the band's discography.