Chad Shivers (organizer of the Southern Surf Stomp, plays in The Mystery Men?, KBK, plenty of others bands) champions The Flying Faders’ debut album No Sweat as one of the best surf albums of the past 10 years. I like it, but it never quite grabbed me enough. I couldn’t tell you why, and I can’t tell you why their new LP seems to fix whatever it was. Tectonic Shifts is a great album.
Tectonic Shifts starts with two ferocious surf scorchers, mostly modern trad style with a few little progressive flourishes here and there. The guitars sound great -- loud and full of presence, ringing out into space and given room to breathe. It sounds great even when played at low volumes, and it sounds exceptional played loud.
“Do the Myoclonic Jerk” is a low-key shuffler that breaks into savage roars, putting you on edge for the rest of the song. A myoclonic jerk is an involuntary, usually harmless muscle spasm, the most common occurrence being when you are falling asleep. I would say the spasming that resulted from this song was more motivated than that.
The middle portion of the album changes tone a bit into something a little more sweet and nostalgic, and I think this is the stuff that had Chad raving about them. It often reminds me of great moments on his own album Firewalkers. And maybe I’m crazy, but there are chords here and there that bring me back to 90’s emo such as The Promise Ring. Let’s not coin emo-surf just yet, especially since there are so many vicious surf rippers on this album, but it’s a thought that stuck with me through some of the vocal tracks.
Yep, the vocal tracks. I generally try to ignore them as this website isn’t really what they’re about, but they conveniently shoved nearly all of them towards the back, so it still very much feels like a surf album. And some of these vocal tracks barely even dial back the surf guitar, such as “Red Tides” and “Kiss Me to Death”
So yeah, I don’t know what this album does so well vs their previous album, especially since it’s made me go back to their old album and I feel like I appreciate it more now. This is a great surf record that I think will appeal to most surf fans. The guitar always feels intentional and has a lot to say, and it’s backed up with great flourishes while keeping a steady heap of momentum.