By Saidif Mejia
Artist: Charlie Doesn’t Surf
Album: Charlie Doesn’t Surf
Release date: May 9, 2019
Though not nearly as recognized as places like New York City, Los Angeles or any other large independent musical hub, plenty of smaller cities throughout the Midwest have always had a niche for coming out with phenomenal bands. Charlie Doesn’t Surf is one such band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their first album, Riviera Days, debuted in 2015 and the band has only faced an upward trajectory since then.
Charlie Doesn’t Surf’s newest self-titled album is a fantastic listen, offering a more midwestern-emo approach than their previous work while still maintaining their indie/punk roots. At the same time, however, there are some obvious nods to the 90s underground rock movements like grunge and alternative. In the end, that only makes this release all the more enriching, almost as if one can travel back in time to the days of flannel, long-hair and baggy jeans from blasting this album through a pair of headphones.
The lyrics on this album are poetic for a smaller group, as vocalists Joshua Williamson and Matt Jorizzo create verses with detailed wording that have significant relevance to the problems of today. The opening track “Darkroom Dream” reveals the self-reflective nature that they carry out through the rest of the album, essentially asking the listeners to take a look at themselves and determine whether or not they’re truly living the life they desire. The message may sound cliche, but the instrumentals do a satisfying job in encouraging the listener to continue with the rest of the work.
“Palm Pilot”, the fourth song on the album, combines math-rock guitar notes with heavy grunge-inspired guitar and bass guitar chords that scream Sonic Youth, The Pixies and Failure. In addition to the ear-pleasing melody of this song, the lyrics protest against the technology-ruled society that we find ourselves in today, and how social media and other internet-based platforms can corrupt the connections we make with each other.
Another notable track, “Stand/Fall”, offers an authentic human response to the societal troubles expressed on previous tracks by being “face down on my bed” and having a “bottle in my hand”, only this time inserting a strong, sludgy base-line and truly deep masculine vocals, something not as common on this release, but nonetheless effective and impactful.
The final track, “Closer”, resembles post-rock more than any other genre because of the repetitive but superb guitar riffs and emotional vocals, somewhat similar to Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The track fulfills a meaningful conclusion to the album, bearing in mind the idea that every day, we all slowly approach where we want to be, even if it is at an irritatingly slow speed. In other words, we may possess our own significant hardships, but combating them on a daily basis remains the only way to become “closer and closer” to our purpose.
Charlie Doesn’t Surf is the perfect album for someone who has had a bad day. It’s also extremely worthy to put in your CD player for a long drive with some beautiful scenery. If neither of those fit your tastes or circumstances, just listen to it while walking to class or to work. The album will truly make your day better, especially the final few tracks. This band’s origins in Minneapolis prove that bands don’t have to come from a huge metropolis to sound amazing; they only have to put heart into their music.