“Floating Vibes” has that deep guitar thing going right away, which I always find gratifying. And which always makes me wonder why rock’n’roll has so consistently (and, to my ears, stupidly) glorified the sound of a wailing guitar played so high up on the neck that there’s no room left for the guitarist’s fingers. I’ll take the robust, thoughtful tremor of the lowest register over screechy wails any day. And check out the countervailing seventh notes that begin appearing at 0:20, floating with offhand precision above the darker sound, the quasi-dissonance of that interval perking the ear up in a most welcome and curious way. This song is pretty great before singer John Paul Pitts–known merely as JP–opens his mouth.
And it gets better. The basic guitar refrain of the introduction becomes the verse melody, with the seventh-note question marks now removed, giving the melody a newly grounded sense of certainty. The harmonies that accompany the melody the second time through (1:00) are subtle and ingenious–the harmony voice is pretty much singing one note–and solidify the melodic construction so firmly that the song never returns to it. It turns out that for all its easy-going tunefulness, “Floating Vibes” is subversive with respect to form: there is no standard chorus and no verse that repeats throughout the song. Rather, there are three different verse melodies, separated by instrumental breaks. The first is the one rooted in the introduction, the second is introduced at an instrumental break at 1:16, and the third (2:35) is a kind of mash-up of the first two. The final instrumental section moves onto yet another melody and features a violin, as unexpected as it is effective.
Surfer Blood is a quintet of non-surfers from West Palm Beach. “Floating Vibes” is the lead track from Astro Coast, the band’s debut, slated for released in January on Brooklyn-based Kanine Records. MP3 via Pitchfork.