THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Though they’re from West Palm Beach, there’s always been a kind of hometown pride for Surfer Blood
(Sep. 1, The Social). Their early seeds were here and the record label that launched their name-making debut album (2010’s Astro Coast
), Kanine Records,
is founded by an Orlando native, Lio Cerezo. So there’s some 407 in their DNA.
I remember writing a story on them on the eve of their official breakout (Dec. 9, 2009, “Rock of Jabroni
”). It was palpable – they were on their way. And when I interviewed them for it, they were breathless kids dizzy from the altitude of standing on the threshold of their dreams.
The work they were emerging with inspired faith right away, and the buzz ahead of them was real. Astro Coast
was something special, a salvo of fuzz-rock perfection.
It topped my 2010 best albums
list. And the band have gone on to prove that they’re no flash in the pan, even rising high enough to enter the major-label market,
for what that’s worth these days.
But that white-hot flash has dimmed somewhat since. Now they return with a little wear from the biz and life in general, enough mileage probably for a VH1 Behind the Music
special. There’s the recent cancer death
of original guitarist Thomas Fekete. And back in 2012, frontman John Paul Pitts got roasted in the court of online opinion for a domestic abuse controversy.
Between these unfortunate personal blows and music that’s gotten increasingly subdued, Surfer Blood have sort of been adrift in that purgatory
between indie sensation and mainstream tenure, with diminishing artistic and critical returns since that first triumphant record. Despite all that though, it was nice to see them back on an Orlando stage, something that curiously doesn’t happen all that often. They’re homegrown kids who’ve not only gone national but beamed out some of this decade’s best songs.
They sounded good, though not great like they’ve been before. Hopefully, that’s just a band that’s recovering, recalibrating and reloading, and not one that’s already running out of steam.
This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.
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