I’m inclined to tell you that Beach Skulls is no ordinary band; there’s something very wise and timely about these guys. Channeling influences from Dick Dale to soul pioneer Sam Cooke, they have managed to create a sound that is both contemporary and nostalgic. Based in Liverpool, UK, Jordan Finney and Ryan Jackson have their fingers on the pulse of classic surf rock. Though not particularly as enthusiastic and sunny as the Beach Boys, they have coined a certain surf-rock melancholy that’s proven perfect for easy summertime listening. Laced in a sea of vintage reverb and easy drums, there is a genius simplicity to their music. Nothing extremely intricate, but this band knows exactly where to put things to make a good song work. These guys are fresh and eager and embody an admirable revival of the basic sentiments of surf rock.
Where other bands are drowning their sound in layer upon layer of what I can only describe as studio-enhanced noise, Beach Skulls are taking a more lo-fi approach, recording with a simple £20 mic and DIY editing software. This works to their advantage, as it is extremely instrumental in capturing that old school surf vibe. They released their first EP, Beneath The Waves, late last year and it is ideal for the summertime. “All Right Island” opens the EP as a hopeful song; everything about it feels optimistic. Carried by reverb, simple, focused drums, and washed out vocals, the song really maintains that summertime feel. “The Waves” reaches deeper into melancholia. Still dancing in the surf rock territory, Jackson sings of longing and hangouts at the beach. There is a more mellow tone to this track but it’s certainly still something to sway to. “Grey Today” and “Grey Tomorrow” make sense as a pair. The first is up-tempo and full and the latter is a bit more experimental and placid. They both seem to have a sort of stream-of-consciousness flow, but it’s also clear that both songs are carefully crafted. The EP closes with a very admirable cover of George Gershwin‘s “Summertime”. The guys really won me over with this one, setting a sort of wise, bluesy tone to the classic song. You really get to appreciate Jackson’s charming, raspy vocals on this track. What’s most impressive about this EP overall is how it fits so comfortably with past decades while also maintaining a progressive, original substance. It really complements the season and has certainly secured itself as the soundtrack of my summer.
Their second EP, The Brooklyn Jive is all of 15 minutes but it demands you’re attention for every second. “Surfbeat Mojo” introduces the EP maintaining that classic surf rock vibe. Purely instrumental, this track is undeniably the most successful at capturing that feel-good, beach-friendly sound coined by the surf rockers of yesteryear. “Surf Freak” continues with a more mysterious and anxious tone. There’s a certain anticipation to this track that keeps you on your toes. The EP also features a risky and brave instrumental cover of Odd Future‘s “Orange Juice”. Layered with consistent echoes of eerie static and carried by simple guitar riffs and distant drums, the cover offers the same sort of anticipation as the original song. This 4 track EP delivers the same classic surf vibe as its predecessor and definitely establishes Beach Skulls as a band to look forward to.
In terms of upcoming releases, Beach Skulls are planning to release a mixtape to sell at their shows for only £2. The mixtape will be a selection of songs from both of their EPs. The guys will also be recording an album’s worth of new material over the summer, both at Rockfield studios and on their own. If you haven’t already grasped that this is something to look forward to, I’m here to tell you in total confidence that these guys are worth keeping an eye out for.
If you’re out in Liverpool or the Manchester area, Beach Skulls have a couple of upcoming shows that you’ll be sorry to miss. You’ll definitely want to be a part of the intimate, feel-good atmosphere that I’m sure they’re capable of creating. The dates and venues are listed below, and for those of you like me who live too many miles away, you can stream “Surfbeat Mojo” and both EPs are still available to download and enjoy via Bandcamp. It’d be a shame if Beach Skulls don’t get the exposure they deserve, so do your friends a favor and share these fantastic tunes. These EPs will not allow you to skip a single track and your summer will definitely be better off because of them.
- 21st July 2012 – Astral Coast Festival, New Brighton
- 26th July 2012 – Williamson Square, Liverpool
- 27th July 2012 – Antony Kift’s Wedding Reception, The Death Instute, Manchester (Invite only)
- 28th July – The Wolf Social, Elevator, Liverpool (Mangone presents)