Hailing from Weymouth (seemingly by way of Detroit) The Surfin’ Birds self-titled debut LP runs the gamut of retro rock ‘n’ roll over 11 tracks.
The trio have been plying their trade on the live circuit for a few years and have a few EPs under their belt all of which has very much culminated in this record which draws their various sounds and influences together.
Things open with a pair of fuzzy garage rockers, She’s Twisted and Baby I’m A Man, that evoke a certain Stooge-y something and set a firm foundation for what’s to follow.
As the disc rolls on, I was listening on CD but really this feels like it should be on vinyl, we get more fuzzy rock, rubbing shoulders with twangy instrumentals and semi-psychobilly moments.
The instrumentals are a nice change of pace to most of what I’m used to hearing and the three main instruments share time in the lead position to great effect, though of course its Paul Sharod’s guitar that takes pride of place.
Setting them apart from other Dick Dale wannabes is a psychedelic edge that is present across the whole record and changes thing up just enough to make it the band’s own.
A highlight of the darker tinged stuff comes with the slightly knowing Graveyard Groupie that combines the vibe of The Cramps with elements of the more British and European psychobilly movement.
Here we see the Sharod’s lyrics come to the fore with a sense of slightly of kilter fun and a vocal delivery that again apes his heroes while still maintaining enough of himself to make it their own.
What having these three distinct sorts of songs does is allow the band to present a varied but still (somewhat oxymoronically) coherent sound that keeps the listener guessing while still creating a clear sonic identity for the trio.
This coherence is aided by a suitably lo-fi, fuzzy, production job that on some albums would be a bad thing but here is perfect – you can hear everything you need to clearly, but it sounds like a product of the 60s, like something from a weird Sonics session that went a bit wrong (and oh so right).
With this record The Surfin’ Birds take the sounds of Dick Dale, The Cramps, The Sonics and The Stooges and ram them all together, head on, to create something that, while based on that description could easily be a mess, is a great rock ‘n’ roll record.
In terms of more mainstream things brings to mind The Hives and stands alongside follow English Channel based acts The Electric Shakes, The Cryptics and Thee Jenerators as proof that garage rock can still be a force to be reckoned with and stand out from a sea of music that often has the look but not the substance.