August 29, 2017

EP: Surfer Rosie - EP 1

Surfer Rosie unleashes nerve-pinching ferocity on their first EP.

Portland’s Surfer Rosie emerged from a community based on self-expression. Three-quarters of the band (including founder and co-vocalist, Laura Daegling) met while working at Portland’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, a branch of the national and international nonprofit Girls Rock Camp, where girls learn and play music together. You can hear the organization’s influence on their debut EP 1 as the members come together and play off of one another.

Named in reference to the Pixies' seminal album Surfer Rosa, Rosie hints at their capability for nerve-pinching ferocity. Both lyrically and tonally, Surfer Rosie traffics in the cockles of the heart, donned in a shirt of nerves and dreams with pulsating hearts on their sleeves. The foursome inaugurates their debut with instruments clashing and forceful. Co-vocalist Gillian Brase’s voice sounds as if she’s been yelling over a band in a dive bar all night, singing strained and ragged over the group’s raging. Even if you can’t catch every lyric, you understand the emotions fueling her words. Over the remaining tracks, the vocals don’t let off steam in the same way, opting for rippling and aqueous territory. “Gilly’s Dream” dims the lights almost all the way down. “Nobody’s perfect all the time,” Daegling offers over nocturnal guitars. About 50 seconds in, the drums appear, cymbals infusing some energy into the affecting track. All throughout, the drums feel like an emotional anchor and guide, holding melancholy by the shirt over the cliff of surrender. They motor along the late 80s-to-mid 90s grungy sludge of “Resting.” The finale, “Chugger,” commences with the band stumbling in unison. Live, you can imagine the members locking eyes, telekinetically confirming when to blow out their amps together. With less than a minute left, the track shifts into another gear, speeding up like a car hoping to make the yellow light only to slam on the breaks when the light turns red quicker than expected. EP 1 hits like an amuse bouche, the work itself satisfying your earbuds while tantalizing you with what’s to come.


Listen to Surfer Rosie on bandcamp.

Alex Stern is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, PA. He enjoys Hemingway Daiquiris, Frasier, and lox. You can follow him on Twitter @alyman007, but he won't be offended if you don't.