I've just discovered Olivia Jean. I LOVE her new album, "Night Owl." It's not surf, but it has a lot of surf moves in it; the opening track has a big ol' gliss near the beginning. and she talks about surf a lot, which can only help the cause! this is from a bandcamp feature on her:
"Olivia Jean has poured her soul into Night Owl. It is, she thinks, a truer expression of the kind of music she really loves—which is surf music. Which is somewhat ironic; although Third Man carries the torch for almost every genre of rock imaginable, you won’t find any Surfaris 7-inches tucked in with copies of Jack White’s collaboration with Muppet band The Electric Mayhem in Third Man’s Novelty Lounge (a.k.a. gift store). But surf is the music Olivia Jean always wanted to make. Remember that tape she gave to White, the one that launched her career? It was full of original surf instrumentals, mostly. It’s her native musical tongue. “What I love about surf is, whatever the vocal melody would be, that’s what the guitar is playing. That’s still how I write music, and that’s why I layer so many things. I just hear melodies that build and build,” she says. “With my last [record], I tried to sneak in as much surf as I could, but it didn’t end up translating in those songs.”
Though you can subtly hear the surf in Bathtub Love Killings, most tellingly in the winding melody lines, Night Owl fearlessly brings those elements to the forefront, with added pick slides, washes of reverb, and lots of twang. The record isn’t 100% surf—Olivia Jean’s musical tastes are un-snobby, like her label’s, and she has an appreciation for pop stars whose musical adventurousness is matched by their aesthetic adventurousness. “When I was recording, I had a bulletin board with Siouxsie Sioux, a big picture of the B-52s, a big picture of Missing Persons, a big picture of Adam Ant, and Frida Khalo quotes,” she says.
The result is a record that growls like a garage, glistens like new wave, and is packaged like a piece of bubblegum. But at its heart, it’s in love with just two things: melody and electric guitar. Olivia Jean’s favorite tracks on Night Owl are the surf ones. She plays all the instruments herself on three of them: lead single “Garage Bat,” “Siren Call,” and “Tsunami Sue.” There’s also a raucous cover of ‘60s Indian rock number “Jaan Pehechaan Ho,” famous for inclusion in Ghost World. “Surf is what I really love,” says Olivia simply.
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