Published on January 18th, 2020

Art by Brian Blomerth

One might be forgiven for thinking that Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils had hung up their spurs. The band was on a roll with their 2010 set-titled debut, followed closely by 2013’s “Clash The Truth”; then, nothing. To the naked eye the group hasn’t done much since that last release, however, to the astute eye things have been moving right along ever since. Beach Fossils found themselves with a unique opportunity to play the Nasty Bits, a pronto-punk band in the HBO series Vinyl that attempted to dramatize New York City’s burgeoning music scene in the late 1970s.  That show wasn’t long for the world of pay television. However, Beach Fossils hadn’t been resting on their laurels during this acting break, quite to the contrary. The band has been quietly “Frankenstein-ing” their new record, “Somersault,” ever since “Clash the Truth,” a process described by the band thusly:

“Recorded at multiple studios across New York City, a cabin in upstate New York, and even Los Angeles … Somersault turns the newfound chemistry between the trio into a sonic tapestry. Due to the variety of sessions and recording locations, the album was a Frankenstein-like series of reworking and reimagining songs. As the group pieced together different parts in a cycle of creation and cooption, and built out more elaborate songs track by track, the process became more reminiscent of a record created via sampling and arranging than one built by simply grinding out riffs. The long-simmering album, filled with breezy music both melancholic and uplifting, sees the band channeling their voices and honing their craft…Beach Fossils have channeled years of experimentation into expansion and reinvention. Augmented with more complex instrumentation, including string arrangements, piano, harpsichord, flute, and sax, the new songs offer multi-layered pop guided by sharp, poignant, and honest lyrics.”

Beach Fossils by Kohei Kawashima

Pitchfork calls the new album “a huge leap” and a repository of some of band founder Dustin Payseur’s “most nuanced songs to date,” adding, “the sleepy-eyed longing of the band’s breakthrough self-titled debut are a distant memory.”

But maybe not that distant, per Post-Trash: “Even though Beach Fossils clearly spent their four-year break experimenting … they didn’t stray far from their glimmering guitars, twangy melodies, and lo-fi roots.”

Surf Curse, from Los Angeles, via Reno, have been tapped to join Beach Fossils for several of the dates on this journey through the East coast. Surf Curse was started in 2013 by Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubeck who clearly have an affinity for lo-fi garage tunes and Joy Division style riffing. While that may seem like a sacrilegious pairing of dark, post-punk and washed out beach punk, these strange bedfellows seem to compliment each other. The band has been making a name for themselves in the L.A. punk scene since relocating. They’ve a prolific work ethic having released three full length albums and one e.p. since their inception. In 2016, the band made a splash at the annual Beach Goth Festival, hosted by the Growlers and Eric Andre. Without a doubt, Surf Curse have been steady grinding since their inception and this approach to creating has served them very well.

Surf Curse by Julien Sage

It only makes sense that a couple of cursed surfers and old beach bones would make their way down to Miami; where else would they go? The combination of shoe-gaze, garage and lo-fi, and gothy beach tunes may be confounding for a generation that frequented the Kitchen Club and did everything in their power to deny themselves natural Vitamin D. However, it’s a new time, where genre doesn’t really exist and subsequently the minutiae of scene politics mean very little. These days everyone just wants to be original and interesting and let’s be honest, that’s a social currency most everyone would be willing to cash in on. As a matter of fact, if the question is would you rather be proficient or interesting, always take interesting. Jam bands are proficient. It’s interesting that both bands have taken different approaches to their work and yet, here we are: two bands from two different coasts with two different approaches to capturing the spirit of their work and they end up in Miami (one of several cities, but I digress) together. It’s like Miami has an East coast attitude and a West coast style that allows people to meet in the middle; you don’t say.

Beach Fossils and Surf Curse play 9pm Saturday January 25 at Gramps in Miami. ~ Tim Moffatt