You can tell just from looking at the album cover* of Jekyll Island that there is going to be an abundance of psychedelic elements to this record. A fine display of a ten year old mastering colouring in within the lines, the vivd imagery evokes a sense of a higher existence. Set to release their fourth album Jekyll Island on March 20, New Zealand’s Surf City foursome of Davin Stoddard, Jamie Kennedy, Mike Ellis and Andy Frost have made an album with some super trippy, psychedelic, rock tunes.
It sounds like the new Friday the 13th film, but Jekyll Island is an LP that shows Surf City at a creative high mashing genres and writing well crafted songs.
There are so many musical influences and undertones present on this record. Some are quite prominent throughout entire songs, while others just sneak out for one guitar solo or for one line within the vocals (the small guitar section around the one minute mark on the track Jekyll Island (and the phycosphere) just screams Nirvana). It is almost as though Martha and the Muffins, The Beatles, Blondie, The Ramones and The Mamas and Papas have given birth to some sort of super child, and its name is Jekyll Island.
The first track on the album Beat the Summer Heat grabs your attention straight away and sets up positive vibes for the rest of the record. It has such a strong 60’s psychedelic feel, and has so many similar sounds to when The Beatles tripped the fuck out and produced singles like I Am the Walrus and Tomorrow Never Knows, some are almost identical. And despite the lack of lyrics and vocals, the out there sounds and rhythms hold their own and don’t need to be reinforced by any extra sounds.
Thumbs Up has an unusual sound, boasting a combination of pop, rock, and once again, psychedelic sounds that all blend together to make a fast paced and boppy song. It has such strong Martha and the Muffins influence, and if you listen to their Echo Beach, you’ll understand what I mean. There are so many different layers in Thumbs Up that you only hear when you’ve listened to it a couple times. It’s a pretty sweet effect. Lead singer Davin’s scratchy vocals are a stand out on this track, and gives it quite a raw and natural feel, making it sound like it should be played at a beach bar in Byron Bay.
If you want to take a step back and listen to something a bit more low key, Hollow Veins more calm than most of the tracks on the album. It is a really mellow, surf rock song. Parts of this song are very reminiscent of The Ramones, as if that is something you can’t love. I can’t quite put my finger on whether it is the tempo, lyrics, the simple and constant drum beat or even Stoddard’s vocals but it’s in there somewhere. Anyway, the combination of the melody and vocals turns this piece of music into such a cool, modern poppy surf rock single that truly stands out on Jekyll Island.
After so little exposure to Surf City’s music beforehand this album has definitely convinced me to go back and explore their previous albums. With so many different sounds and genres visits within the space of eight tracks Jekyll Island is a fun album to listen to and definitely not one you will tire of easily.
*Ed. The age old advice of not judging by appearances has been dispelled!
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