October 28, 2003

Surface "Surface"

Another day, another new band, another nice little EP. Surface is a New York trio of classically trained musicians has a sound and an atmosphere that I really have enjoyed. Mixing up the sounds of modern rock and jazz, their sound is inspirational in the sense that it’s always a bit of an inspiration to hear a young band find a groove that’s all their own. I’ve said it before--an EP is a good format. It’s a good way to be introduced to the world, and it’s a great way to
work out the kinks that come from being a brand new band.

The five songs that constitute this EP (titled EP--heh!) are
all cut from the same cloth. They have a jazzy feel; mixed with a little bit of Britpop, these songs all have a light, airy feeling that is very friendly on the ears and is always a pleasure to listen to. They mix up jazz and pop quite naturally-and for good reason; all of these fellows are classically trained and educated musicians. Sometimes that’s not a good thing; technical skill can occasionally overwhelm the music itself, leaving the music feeling bland and
passionless. Luckily, Surface doesn’t have that problem.

Starting off with “Control Freak,” lead singer Sean Han impresses quite quickly with his not too sad yet not too happy vocals. He has a flare for the dramatic that’s not unlike Jeff Buckley or Chris Martin, and even though he doesn’t quite reach up to Buckley’s angelic heights (then again, who can?) he’s not a weak singer at all, and he doesn’t fall flat into the pit of imitators-and believe me, there sure are plenty of them these days! “Move” is a number with a wonderful jazzy instrumentation-and could just as well be an instrumental. “Hard to Believe” and “Forget Your Blues” are also nice, radio-friendly ballads, and the final track, “Pulling Teeth,” is perhaps the weakest of the bunch; it sounds older than the rest of the songs, but after a few listens, it grows on you.

Perhaps the only problem I have with EP is the fact that their sound, while good, doesn’t have the strength of experience. Their songs aren’t weak; they just sound like those of a new band who are young but daily growing. I have a feeling that won’t be an issue for much longer. Growth fixes these things, and Surface have nothing but time, and with the time spent playing out, I’m positive that Surface will make a stellar, strong debut album. Surface is a fine debut for a band well worth paying attention to.

--Joseph Kyle

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