#BandcampGold Review-Ride The Surf by Today Junior
All of what Today Junior stands for is articulated in a song from their 2013 album What’s The Skinny? called The Antidote. Lead singer Harry O’Toole dumps accept-the-universe-as-it-comes surfer wisdom “We all get sh_t for who we are, what we got and how we got it. What we want and what we’ve wanted but it’s all the same. ” And of course it’s not all the same, life is full of complexity and varying levels of strife depending a number of factors…but…the bassline is so good and Harry is so assured in his tone that the song becomes this kind of spiritual cleanser for the painfully complicated and mean world we traverse day to day. This is the essence of Surf Rocks conception from Dick Dale to Jan & Dean to The Ventures. This music washes over you and leaves you in the sun.
Today Junior’s follow up album, Ride The Surf, released in July of 2015 is The Antidote stretched and elaborated over a twelve track canvas. It isn’t a mix of influences come together to create something new (nothing wrong with that by the way). This is an album that does not betray its cover (dude in red shorts surfing the wave). The first song Come of Age is a mostly instrumental world building song that introduces you to the emphatic honeyed guitar and basslines that define the music and the hard hitting drums played by the other O’Toole (O’Toole….Mike O’Toole). Are they brothers? Is this a family business? How would I know? I don’t know these people. Anyway, everything flows from Gracie to Out of Reach with its oddly satisfying background singing. Harry is an arresting presence, he sings “All I know is I want you…over and over again,” after the pause he somehow impregnates his voice with the vitality of a specific memory you can’t touch or see. All the while the drums keep thumping and the guitar wanders knowing you’ll follow.
If Ride The Surf has a song as stirring and impressive as The Antidote it is Bitcrusher. Mike O’ Toole shines on drums rolling us right into the album’s best chorus. As these songs go by the world around you feels more tropical, Small Talk sounds jovial and dreamy even before Harry opens it with “Did it matter? Words that we say when were younger, won’t understand till I’m older. Thinking that everything’s easy.” None of the lyrics are deeply political or intensely articulate and that’s the point, it would ruin the vibe if they were. Harry is loose, poignant at times, and always genuine. The album’s title track is just about staying up all night and hanging out but you feel the bloodshot eyes and sand-filled flip flops.
I got a chance to meet Today Junior after they opened for a local group (Jargon Party) and I geeked out like I was meeting the President, it was embarrassing ( I have an embarrassing way about me). I did get one great nugget in. I looked Harry O’Toole in his eyes and said “Don’t ever be versatile man. Just keep doing what you’re doing and get better.” We need bands that snuggle up right in the beating heart of their sub-genre’s definition. So we know what it is supposed to sound like when someone just nails it. I said something like”I don’t ever want to hear your prog rock album” and I meant it. Build this god damn sonic playhouse as elaborately as you want for as long as it takes you. As great as Ride The Surf is they could build their next album on how inebriated the atmosphere of Rolling Stone’s Farwell leaves you. They can just beat the crap out of this direction because the world will always need Surf Rock. Not for the surfers but for the people at the bus stop blowing breath into their cold hands and trying desperately to place themselves somewhere else via the power of music+imagination. Somewhere fun.
Stream or download Ride The Surf below: