Review Summary: Summer Seven Club is a fantastic collection of beach rock influenced rock songs, with a distinct Jeff Rosenstock touch.
Jeff Rosenstock is a Brooklyn-er who writes songs about being broke, drunk, depressed, happy, in love, out of love, lazy, and riding bikes.
Summer Seven Club? Well, it's an EP about all those things - except drenched in the summer sun.
The EP was a multi-month project by Jeff, who asked for money up front with the promise of 7 songs by the end of summer, and a 7" with two songs after it was all over. We were promised a collection of songs to capture that beautiful feeling of summer, and that's exactly what Jeff delivered to us here.
The songs here all seem to capture a different feeling of summer. The bouncy synthesizers and Beach Boys influenced vocal harmonies on the first track "Not Too Soon", a Throwing Muses Cover, along with the rolling drums capture almost perfectly the aesthetic feeling of summer. The slow "I Always Dread the End of Summer" seems bogged down in the hazey, groggy Brooklyn sun, with strangely optimistic and motivated lyrics towards the end of the track. (So I made a plan to take some action/I wanted to look back on my stupid life with some pride/I breathed deep this air of self-satisfaction) The reverberated guitars and beach rock influenced guitars aren't anything particularly noteworthy or new, but for what they're worth, on this EP they seem to fit perfectly.
The chorus of "Eastern Coast" uses the vocal melody from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" and coincidentally, just as Billy Joel's song mapped out his life, Jeff's song write out his. Mind you, not in the same way. Where Billy Joel did his story historically, Jeff does his, well, generally. "Eastern Coast" is a simple song that seems to capture everything Jeff is about. His fears, his love of life, his love of friendship, and drinking. Jeff sings over the beach rock (I understand it's a summer EP, but some variation would have been nice) guitars "Sometimes I get distracted by the nagging fear that/The future that I'm building ain't the future that I want/So when I come up from the depths of anxiety/Meet me at the ocean with your swim trunks on." I have the suspicion that this song is a tweaked B-side off of Vacation, though to be honest this notion could be applied to any of the original tracks off of this EP.
"Nausea" is the last song I want to comment on, as Jeff noted that this is a striped down version of a song he wanted to record full-band. Though it seems an obligatory acoustic track is included in most of Jeff's release, this song is probably my favorite song off the EP. It's a much needed break from the assault of reverberated guitars, and is really balances off the second half of the release (the Neil Young cover is probably my least favorite track, though the closing Fiona Apple cover is a great closer).
Overall, Jeff Rosenstock put together an above average collection of sun soaked songs. Though the sounds heard here aren't particularly original (there's no stand out song, and aside from the bleep-bloops on the closer, no sticky beats), and the reverberated beach rock guitars tend to get a little old after the first four tracks, it still doesn't detract from the overall style nor the musicianship that went into it. It's distinctly Jeff, and I feel that's the best compliment I can give to it.
ASIDE: For some reason (which is kind of unclear to me) Jeff released the 7" with two songs that don't appear on the downloadable version of this EP. The first song on the physical release is "Teenager" and is immediately noticed as much better produced than any of the songs on Summer Seven Club, it's also a fantastic song that would have been a great inclusion to the online version of this release. The second song is "Go On Get" which sounds like an improved and more optimistic version of "I Always Dread the End of Summer", why Jeff didn't make the choice to cut two songs off the non-physical release and put these on is beyond me.