The more esoteric of our readers will fall in love with seaside on principle: a compilation album that features songs Mike McCarthy wrote and recorded for surf films between 2001-13. The rest of you may need some convincing, so let's cut the chatter.
Seaside is a guitar-driven album unpredictable as the sea itself. Electric and acoustic elements, playful rhythms and McCarthy's own clever lyrics are all unified by an oceanic theme. This is not surf rock in the traditional sense, with box and other effects pedal-filtering the riffs into druggy reverb. McCarthy's approach is more exploratory. There are tracks that would make Brian Wilson proud, such as the eponymous opener, but then there are quiet after-the-bonfire meditations like "Summer&Winter." The characteristic fingerpicking style of surf rock still makes its rightful appearance, though not all the time. McCarthy, when using this technique, can be gentle or aggressive.
Just like he can be modern or classic. "Aloha Oe" is barely a minute long but carries the steel-guitar sound that novelized Hawaiian music (which subsequently garnered interest in surf-rock). Meanwhile, the gentle strumming and capricious percussion in "Missing Person" (arguably the best track on the album besides "Seaside") lends itself to stuttering melancholy. It is music best listened to in a cove at high tide.
One thing I am certain of in all the tracks: McCarthy fully intended them to be listened to at the beach. Not every song carries an emotional wallop, and some tracks were clearly created as background music. As a whole, though, Seaside achieves its goal of acquainting the listener with a culture that does not nearly get the credit it deserves (seeing a guy wipe out on a fifty-foot maverick is far more nerve-wracking than watching a bunch of giraffes aim a ball into a net, trust me).
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