From the West Coast to the West Midlands: Surf Pop in a new Golden State?
Never having been to America I cannot say for sure, but I am fairly confident that the differences between Orange County California and the West Midlands are fairly numerous. However one area where it appears they do in fact share some similarities is in their musical output, in particular with regard to the prominence of Surf Pop as a defining genre. This may initially seem baffling as the creative types in Cali have access to Venice Beach, whereas those in Birmingham have to content themselves with a network of fairly murky canals, yet nevertheless a wave of records originating in England’s ‘second city’ sound drenched in West Coast sunshine.
Take for instance ‘California Daze’ the latest single from PEACE, garnering massive attention on both sides of the Atlantic, which from its double entendre of a title to its last shimmering chords simply oozes chilled out Golden State sounds. As the poster boys of the West Midlands music scene, PEACE have influenced the desires of their fellow musicians, with indie boys The Carpels stating their intention to follow the same path and make music in California.
The appeal of such a lifestyle is clear to us all although it is arguably far more stylised in our minds than in reality, making it easier to label bands putting out laidback tunes as being ‘Surf Pop’. Connor Schofield of JAWS, another band tasked with leading Birmingham’s musical revolution, regards the genre in the same way: ‘It’s just a tag the music has been given because it sounds nice and chill, I think bands are just writing what they want, I know we are’. Their most recent track ‘Toucan Surf’ has had major airplay as something of a hazy summertime gem, yet to make such a chilled out tune does not require a complete absorption of Pacific Coast vibes, according to Schofield all that’s necessary is to ‘drink all the Pepsi Max you can find and pick up a guitar’.
It is well known that a healthy dose of sunshine can substantially improve our perceived quality of any track and it will be interesting to see whether the emergence of UK Surf Pop will continue to flourish once our small window of summertime disappears. Perhaps though the magic of the genre is founded in the incongruity of the setting for its creation and the setting it conjures in our minds and for this our Surf Pop pioneers deserve immense credit.
JAWS – Toucan Surf
PEACE – California Daze