What is so special about being positive? What made an entire generation go nuts and just decide to let their hair grow and get stoned? Then again, what is so great about being miserable? Again, entire generations of people used music to let out their misery as an art form. When you get past all of that though, what are you left to feel? There gets a point in your life where you get tired of hearing people complain about how bad life is, or how happy they are to be, or maybe that's just me. Sometimes the mellow vibe goes across so much better than those of an overly positive or negative song. This is where my personal interest in a lot of surf based acoustic music stems from. The reflective aspect of it just creates that real depth that isn't necessarily conveyed from it's lyrics or often simple musical basis. Current Swell is no different in this sense, with their melancholy reflections and harmonies mirroring most of the current acts in the style.
When I was first handed a ripped copy of this tape, I wasn't sure what to expect. Sure, I'd listened to acts like The John Butler Trio and Xavier Rudd, but I was a major metalhead at the time. Still, the CD found it's way into my battered player and I sat down and was taken aback by the easiness of the music. Yes, in no way couyld it compare to the technicalities of metal, nor did it have the aggression of the punk acts I was into at the time, but it just had a hold. The solos were simplistic, but more emotional than any 515 note-a-minute solo and the vocals just felt that bit more authentic. You could hear the fact that there was feeling behind the lyrics, no matter how repetitive they were or how often they were said. It reminded me of days as a kid, sitting on the beach whilst the sky was overcast and waves crashed.
The acoustic aspect, which is present for most of the record really builds that laid back vibe that so many surfers try to explain to everyone around them. There's the connection to the environment, shown in songs like For The Land
or the genuine outlook on life shown in songs like Honest Man
which relays the age old tale of a person being convicted on false grounds, but when finally released is so institutionalised that he can't cope with the world that has changed so much from the one he left, and ends up committing a crime to return to the safety of the walls. I wasn't blown away with this, I mean, I'd heard much the same long before I heard this record. However, it was the execution that made this so intriguing.
Instrumentally, this took me aback. I'd gone from Necrophagist and Napalm Death to a band that had barely any drums, light guitar and an actually audible bass, not to mention the various miscellaneous instruments featured throughout the record. Harmonicas and tambourines were quite the dynamic change, hand claps contrasting the blast beats. But for all the minimal aspects, the instruments were well put together. You can actually hear definite dynamic changes from a low laid back to a building positive vibe. There is no focus on one particular area, rather producing a well rounded sound which is demonstrative of all the members of the band.
It's been a few months since I first was handed that battered CD and I don't regret listening to it. Whilst it wasn't the most original acoustic record, nor the most creative, it had that genuine energy which made it seem like such a real record, not one made to just fit under a particular genre banner or stylistic form.
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