Album Review :
Surrogate - Love Is for the Rich

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Artist: Surrogate
Album: Love Is for the Rich
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: August 28, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

1. Shift the Blame
2. 15
3. Talk of the Weather
4. Photographic Memory
5. Death Penalty
6. Problem Solving
7. Easy
8. Papertrail
9. Fix Another
10. Stay out of the Sun
11. Upside Down Pictures
12. The Fence

“Indie.” A term used to describe musical styles as diverse as the full spectrum of the animal kingdom. From the amoeba to the deer to the pterodactyl (RIP), “indie” is a great blanket genre to cover them all. Amid the frenzy sits a band like Surrogate. Hailing from Chico, California and recently signing with Tooth & Nail Records, this two-man band (both of those men formerly being in Number One Gun) focuses on a simple yet poignant type of “indie” for fans of Seth Roberts (Lakes or Watashi Wa), Rocky Votolato, and Bright Eyes.

Love Is for the Rich avoids the complexity of many indie-rock records. Here, you will not find three or four layered guitar riffs mixed with a piano and hard-to-reach falsetto. Surrogate keeps their music interesting, but down to earth. Songs like “Photographic Memory” bring an upbeat, sing-a-long danceable feel to the release with solid bass and disco-flavored drum beats, but in a way that keeps the tone of the overall CD flowing with guitars that are usually acoustic and Chris’s very organic voice. The instrumentation does get a little more involved with the use of a banjo, xylophone, accordion, and more, but these are just enough to keep things interesting without getting unnecessarily complicated. Sometimes the bass seems to be turned up too loud or not planned into the mix well enough, making a track a little muddy, but this is really only noticeable when one listens pretty closely. Subtle political and social commentary make the lyrics enjoyable, especially since it’s sometimes hard to tell what lyricist Chris Keene actually thinks, like in the songs “Stay out of the Sun” and “Death Penalty” (not to mention the title of the record). Brilliantly catchy choruses appear on “Easy” and “Fix Another,” leaving Surrogate’s debut with a delicate balance of fun indie-pop and relaxed introspective folk rock.

Being the first in a new wave of deals with the Nail, Surrogate’s record leaves the score Tooth and Nail: 1, Skeptics: 0. Their sound is not as accessible as many other indie band’s these days, but there’s a lot to be said for a niche market. Starting on a soft and smooth acoustic note and ending with an almost country song, Love Is for the Rich takes a quite eclectic approach to the genre, and what could compare with knowing that it was self-produced and “recorded during the month of April, 2007 in Chris’ bedroom and a friend’s warehouse in Chico, California” and later “mixed by Steven Dail and Jason Martin.”



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