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Surf Friends- Confusion (2010)

by PowertoolRecords

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    It's difficult to discuss New Zealand indie rock without mentioning the Clean. From the time of their debut single, "Tally Ho!", in 1981, the trio has since been cited as a massive inspiration to everyone from indie rock's Old Guard (Pavement, Yo La Tengo) to some of today's most exciting underground bands (Times New Viking, Crystal Stilts, the late Jay Reatard). With the Clean's reputation seemingly at an all-time high, one has to wonder how mighty a shadow the band has cast over its native land. With their debut record, Confusion, Surf Friends-- a young duo from Auckland-- attempt to wriggle their way out from under the Clean's heavy influence.

    On parts of the record, it proves to be a struggle. Throughout the band swipes moves from the playbook of their forebears-- a few jangly guitars here, a few Farfisa organs there. A song like "Human" carries all of the hallmarks of a Clean tune, aside from unspectacular vocals being pushed high in the mix. Surf Friends' love for the band doesn't always serve as an albatross, however; the driving, catchy, and sun-drenched "Late Night" and "Enjoy the Show" are picture-perfect homages to the auspicious first decade of the the Clean, while "You're on My Mind" is an earworm that captures their off-the-cuff brilliance. "I Tried" adds something new to the template, starting out with a chiming guitar figure and building the entire song over a blissfully woozy undercurrent, even at one point sampling a percussive, synthesized horn blast eerily reminiscent of the opening to Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison".

    When the band is making a clear effort to stand apart from the Flying Nun label, it proves to be a mixed bag. The intro of "No Oil" finds them restlessly experimenting with ambient loops before locking into a sulking, bass-driven groove and then devolving into meandering aimlessness. On the other hand, closing out with the album's title track, they focus on droning, blurry guitars and a bubbling, hypnotic bassline while providing many exploratory detours and even a couple of sharp tempo changes throughout the song's 10 minutes. While the template they've set for themselves can prove to be rigid at points, Confusion is a record that proves Surf Friends are capable of expanding upon it and even abandoning it completely. But in order for them to truly set their own path, they'll have to learn to do such a thing a little more often.

    — Martin Douglas, November 17, 2010
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      $8 USD


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of Surf Friends- Confusion (2010) via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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      $13.95 USD




released August 1, 2010



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PowertoolRecords Auckland, New Zealand

Rough Church was conceived after the demise of Ferdinand, the band that existed from 1994-2003. Baseball, Concrete, rare steamy rain, tumbleweeds and lost poems about dirty chimneys are what influence this band. It spits out indie pop classic jams that get us compared to everything from Minutemen, Pixies, Broken Social Scene, WAR and Grand Funk. Deal with it! We can't get away from it. ... more

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