One can sit around all day and wax faux intelligent about where a band gleams their influences from. It's armchair quarterbacking for the kind of folks who wake up in the middle of Sunday afternoon and could give a good goddamn about 100 yards and monied monoliths of bro. For some people the best part of listening to music is trying to reverse-engineer each piece of band that comes through, and sadly finding greasy defective second-hand parts or amazing finding keen mechanisms built by the very hand of God. It's just how us music nerds survive. So for the past week, every time Aftermath would find himself at the crossroads of trying to describe Florida's Surfer Blood, he kept reaching dead ends. Whether this means he needs to spend more time in the Internet woodshed listening to krautrock, Nuggets, or outlaw country remains to be seen. [Ed. Note: We're pretty sure we've got outlaw country covered.] But in the past seven days, everyone around him has either been likening his beloved Surfer Blood to a closeted jam band, a Weezer-ish barn burner, Vampire Weekend for poor kids or, as we ourselves put it just yesterday on Twitter, the "My Morning Beach Boys". But all those comparisons were for naught as SB came to the stage at Mangos around 11 p.m. Tuesday night at Mango's. Aftermath can understand how people could hear Vampire Weekend, as lead singer John Paul Pitts has a fleeting aural resemblance to V-Dub's Ezra Koenig. But then there is SB's Marcos Marchesani doing all manner of things behind his keyboard and percussion set. Live the band seems to be three separate parts all intermingling together at just the right times, instead of the usual "let's all run into this wall together and hope we somehow make it over" vibe that most indie bands want to bite all over. "Floating Vibes" is the song that has been garnering the most shoegaze comments, but it's a milder strain of it, and not as dour. The expanse inside it actually allows a gnarly guitar line to creep in, unlike My Blood Valentine's "Sometimes" which was like a steel trap. SB's drummer also hits incredibly hard for a small indie band, sounding like he was splintering his drum sticks and his own bones with each snare crack. Set closer "Neighbor Riffs" seem to drone on for minutes without boring us, and even elicited a friend to turn around and say jam band, but in a totally good way. Openers Buxton and Muhammadali turned out a few new songs, with Buxton gaining a wider gallop in their step, along with an increased leaning towards steel guitar. Time signatures have been drastically altered on the fresh material, which was exciting. Muhammadali seem to be getting different with each show, as if they are sniffing for something live they haven't found in a studio just yet. Anyhow, it was loud and shattering as ever. At this point, both theirs and Buxton's songs have firmly implanted themselves in Houston lore.
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Aftermath: Surfer Blood, More Than the Poor Man's Vampire Weekend, at Mango's
November 4, 2009 | 10:45am|