bill bodkin reviews the debut record from the jersey shore’s premier surf rock outfit…
There’s a fine line between performing a style of music and actually embracing it. Sure, Bon Jovi recorded a country album, even threw on a cowboy hat a few times — but is he really country? No, of course not, he’s the shaggy haired arena rocker who’s seen a million faces and rocked them all.
However, when you listen to the ’50s and ’60s surf rock-inspired album Vacation! by the Jersey Shore’s own, The Brigantines, you can feel that this band is truly in love with the sound of surf rock. They wear it on their sleeves, as if it were inked onto their already inked up limbs. You can hear the rushing barrels of a tube crushing down upon you with each drum beat, you feel awash in the laconic nature of sunbathing with every distorted guitar strum. It’s as if the band were ripped right out of a bygone era and transplanted into modern time — as if it were some really bad plot from a really bad Mystery Science Theater-esque beach blanket movie.
And while this is cool, what The Brigantines do to truly embrace their sound is putting their own, unique spin on it. Lying underneath the sunny exterior of their sound is a tinge of Brit pop-rock and new wave, in particular Vincent Minervino’s vocals which have this haunting, near Smith-like quality to it. The end result of this that their sound has a sense of modernity and relevance to it. The Brigantines’ sound isn’t just for those heading for retirement who grew up watching Frankie & Annette movies. No, the inked up dudes and dudettes of today’s scene can eat this up a vegan taco or a bucket of boardwalk fries doused in vinegar.
We’d be remiss to finish this review without mentioning some of the stand-out tracks on this record. Tracks like “Verity” and “Ray-Bans” which appeared on the band’s debut EP are must listens as they really exemplify the band’s one-two punch of midsummer night’s dreamy lyrics and killer surf rock instrumentals. Speaking of instrumentals you cannot have a surf rock record without one “barrel” song — and “Brigantines Barrel” is a song that’s perfect to soundtrack entering a killer barrel and riding the proverbial giant like Johnny Utah in Point Break.
Vacation! is the perfect summer record for those lovers of local, independent music and those who are just big into the whole surf rock vibe.