A Surfer's Debts: Dual Review

Today, I present to you two great CDs that you should own. Both incorporate elements of their influences, while their sound is their own. Both draw on faith for inspiration. Both write powerful songs that draw you towards them with a gravitational force. Both are CDs by acts that you’ve likely heard very little about before. And, both are CDs that will remain on my iPod (or iPad/iPon/iWhatever) for years to come.

However similarly I have described these two CDs, their sound is far from similar.

The first is the debut release from a surf-rock-shoegaze-dreampop band from Ventura, CA. This release first crossed my path through an email sent by Jeff Cloud of Velvet Blue Music. When I responded to his email about wanting to check this out, he noted that the band wasn’t on VBM, but is being distributed by VBM’s distro. He said he’d tell Joel, the man behind this music, to send me a copy for review. A few days later, I received a package, complete with CD, sex wax, and sand from the band’s favorite surf spot.


When I popped Mainsail into my car stereo, I was immediately struck by the pop sensibilities of Joel Bennett and his band of merry musicians. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is what bands like Phantom Planet are supposed to sound like,” and I was transported in my mind to the Overseas Highway, where I drove through the Florida keys several years back… the ocean on either side of the road, the smell of the shore, and the warm sun. Ok, so Florida and California aren’t the same, but I’ve never been to Cali, so don’t jump down my throat just yet.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this CD; the songs blend one into the next with ease. The sum of the parts is what is most important here. The parts are good, but none stand out as the best. Is there a song that could be a good single on here? Sure, pick one at random and put it on pop radio and I don’t doubt that people will love it. If I had to choose a single, I’d start right at the beginning… the opening track, “Endless Summer”. Think Jack’s Mannequin, but more mature and less interested in focusing on making music that sells. It’s just a good, upbeat Summertime type of song.

Here’s all you really need to know. This is dreamy, 90’s shoegaze influenced, surf pop. And I like it. A lot.

The second CD… drastically different. East coast. Very little in the way of pop sensibilities. Even less in the way of dreamy surf influence. What we have here is hardcore. Hardcore, Debtor be thy name.


I was introduced to Debtor when I bumped into a friend, Debtor’s bassist Skot Rudy, who told me he was in a new band. While we stood amidst a crowd of folks wandering out the door after a killer Social Distortion show, Skot proceeded to explain to me that he had been asked to join a band called Debtor, a hardcore band based in the Philly burbs. I told him that I’d make a point to come out to a show. And come out to a show, I did.

At the show, I mentioned to Skot that I would love to review a CD, because not only do I like to promote friends but also because I thought their set was tight. Skot offered a free copy of their EP, but I decided to pony up the $5 and support the band with the little money I had on me that night.

The next morning, I popped the CD in the stereo in my living room. I walked out of the room for a minute, only to return to my 14 month old son dancing like a madman to the 2nd track of the CD. Plain and simple, it was awesome.

As opposed to Mainsail, I think Debtor’s Deliverance EP is more about the parts than the sum. Each track is its own piece. The CD flows well together, but nothing about it seems to push me to think that the sum is greater than its parts. Keeping with this theme, there are certain standout tracks on this EP. My favorites being the opener, “Escape”, the spoken word “None Righteous”, and “Witness”.

Overall, quite glad Skot joined the band and that I was lucky enough to experience them recently. I expect big things moving forward from this release. In short, the CD is powerful stuff, harkening back to the hey day of Spirit-Filled Hardcore. Then again, I’d expect nothing less of Blood & Ink Records.


~ by thepaintedman on January 29, 2010.

7 Responses to “A Surfer's Debts: Dual Review”

  1. […] A Surfer’s Debts: Dual Review […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Justin Harlan, Mainsail. Mainsail said: Album reviews are starting to come in… 8 of 10 on the Painted Man Blog: http://bit.ly/cXUyJn […]

  3. […] Mainsail’s “Endless Summer” is the opening track off of the recent release from Joel Bennett’s latest musical endeavor. Buy the CD on iTunes […]

  4. […] label-mates, Debtor, these guys are the new movement of Spirit-Filled Hardcore. Powerful, Christ-centered lyrics, are […]

  5. […] Destination 3305 Bayshore Road suite 10 North Cape May, NJ. Magnus Magnus, With Our Teeth, Debtor, and one more tba. $5 at the door. Doors open at […]

  6. […] Two free tracks, courtesy of Joel Bennett and Mainsail. […]

  7. […] Kevin Bacon style… ready, go! Troegs Scratch #32 is a California common style beer. Joel Bennett (Mainsail) lives in California. Joel sent me a package of good beer including Full Sail Brewing Company’s […]

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