It was the late 60s and early 70s. Psychedelic rock was everywhere. Vans. Hippies (not nature hippies, ‘Led Zeppelin’ hippies I guess). Weed. Booze. Nudity. More weed. This EP puts you right there. There are curtained windows in the van, and a rug. Lazy smiles and slow reaction times. Sweat it out. Turn up the Hendrix. Surprise Party stands up to this sound, both live and recorded.
No tie dyed headbands or bell bottom jeans maybe, but their sound is thick and heavy and full of riffs and catchy hooks. It’s full of melodies and chords that shouldn’t exist in this time. Not knowing anything else about the band, you might just stop there. It’s perfect psych rock, what more do you want? Dig a bit more and you get a hint of their shameless frat boy humour. Imagine not giving a fuck, times that by 10, and you are getting close to the spirit of Surprise Party. The cool thing that Surprise Party captures better than any other band of this style is the progressive sound of the early 70s. By that I mean, you can still hear the catchy, slightly frantic, swaying back and forth, polished early 60s songwriting style. Think “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies for example, so they form a complete picture. You imagine skilled players who would have been playing in early Beatlemania type bands before venturing into psych rock. This makes the music sound even more authentic because the past of these musicians actually would have informed their moving into a new sound and scene. This EP is really solid. On the tenth or so listen (I’ve lost count) now I can say there are no stand out tracks because they’re all great. It’s an easy summer high, and you should check it out, and check them out live. (Transistor 66 Records, surpriseparty420.bandcamp.com) Joel Klaverkamp