Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Surf City ‘It’s A Common Life’

Surf City

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.

[Bandcamp]

[Grade: 7.7]

Alex Lyall: Okay, it’s pissing down and I’m taking the day off because I have a cold. But surf’s up dooood, summer never left. Surf City excel at this sorta stuff, it’s taylor-made for good feels. Underneath the warm fuzz lies a bass that chugs along, which creates a flow that sends the beautiful vocals (anybody who sings in the kiwi accent should be knighted) from a lame and pretentious first verse to a beach-fire sing a long. That’s what we want to hear from a band called ‘Surf City’, summer vibes, not some corny social commentary about fucking kids (seriously?) [8]

Elizabeth Beattie: The first time I listened to this song I didn’t really appreciate it. The production is very stylistic and I found the vocals merging into the rhythm section making the lyrics near indistinguishable and the drums sound quite thin, and it would have been cool to hear them more on display. After listening to this song with headphones, I was able to hear more intricate qualities the tune possessed. The chorus is good and unique and a nice balance of enthusiastic and dreamy. The melody itself was really enjoyable and the backup vocals quite effective. I think this band are definitely talented at creating articulate chaos, but I feel for their poor drummers skills getting under-displayed and it took me quite a few listens to really “get” this tune. [6]

Michael Kerby: The prospect of Ghost Wave being so good at aping Surf City that Surf City ends up aping Ghost Wave and therefore aping themselves and back and forth until the world collapses into a ape-filled blackhole was so exciting to me that for the first few listens I was convinced that this was Surf City’s take on ‘Sunsetter’.

It isn’t. Mostly because Surf City have written a proper massive chorus with a backup hook every 7.4 seconds. It might make it sound a bit like the theme to a sitcom called ‘A Common Life’, but then so does ‘Anything Could Happen’ – probably the source of all this aping in the first place. [8]

Lauren Clark: Typically apathetic, pop-sensible stuff from Surf City here. There’s something incomprehensibly carefree about it… I’ve never been able to tell if these guys give too many shits or none at all. Either way, I really like this; it just feels like a classic, all inoffensive and nostalgically “chill”. I like the way the melody dances around the expected, not really touching the tonic. And he sounds like Kurt Cobain on uppers. [8]

Luke Jacobs: Surf City have not changed their sound a great deal since their break out into the scene and it’s suited them well. With this track they do not deviate much but the melodies are much stronger juxtaposed with a spiky guitar line that works well. What is best though are the murmurings buried in the mix that add much needed texture and a ghostly unsettling feeling to the track that gives it so much more drama that it would have had. It sounds like a band that is growing and hopefully their new material will build on this much more. [7]

Vincent Michaelsen: Except when it’s totally unavoidable (like you’re plugging straight into Garage Band, because that’s all you’ve got), lo-fi recording usually really bothers me. Though it adds an element of youthful nostalgia to a song, it just seems like a cheat move. I wouldn’t call this track total lo-fi but it goes a good distance in that direction. However, I do really like the effect of the recording here. The vocals have a live feel to them and are gritty as, which remind me of Kurt Cobain. That and the more Kiwi sounding chorus work in song’s favour, making it a lot more than a regular/boring surf track. Would gladly listen to this kind of thing anytime. [9]

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