Podcasts are great.
So is satellite radio, as well as Spotify, Pandora, Soundcloud, etc. Sports radio is a little nuts, but also a little perfect sometimes.
These things are all wonderful and totally awesome things to listen to while driving about town in your whip. However, none of these things can replace a killer local radio station. No way. The local radio station should be a staple- whether it is something you rely on when the 4G is shit G, the podcast well is empty, or you lost your cable that hooks up your music player with your car stereo or something that gets the job done 0n quick trips to the gas station or super market. It needs to be there, programmed into your car stereo because you never know when you might need it.
Moving from Philadelphia, a town with a handful of good radio stations, to our adorable little beachfront community, I was initially at a loss because my options for local radio were slim pickings. I mean, how many times do I really need to hear Van Halen? Or AC/DC? Or AC/DC then Van Halen? I think I’ve actually heard more Van Halen since I moved to New Jersey than I previously had in my entire life. You like Van Halen? That’s fine. Good for you. I don’t as much and while yes, I can get down with “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” every once in a while, Van Halen is more often than not an automatic station changer when it comes on- which is a shitload in New Jersey. Really. A lot. More than Springsteen, which seems almost sacrilegious.
Anyway, I thought I was going to be in rough shape when it comes to having a good, quality local radio station to lean on. But I wasn’t. I was saved! When in doubt, find the nearest college, see if they have a radio station and go forth and conquer. Scanning the dial one morning, I stumbled upon some My Morning Jacket playing. My Morning Jacket. On the radio. Only one kind of radio station plays My Morning Jacket- a college radio station. So I stuck with it and sure enough, that’s what I had found, the radio station of Brookdale Community College, specifically Brookdale Public Radio, 90.5, the Night. I had found what I was looking for. It’s not XPN, the great Philly radio station, but it was close enough. They play Dr. Dog, War on Drugs, Van Morrison and more. They play just good music- good filler for in between podcasts or in valleys on no available Internet and/or service.
One morning, the Night played a song I had never heard before, but instantly liked. I Shazaam’d that shit- “Red Shag” by Current Swell– a fun tune with great energy. I got to work, found it on Spotify and probably listened to it anywhere from four to eighteen times that morning alone. Thank you Good Local Radio Station. I found a new band I like.
And I like Current Swell.
I just don’t know anything about them.
I could make one or two assumptions about them, almost solely based on “Red Shag.”
Assumption Number 1: they’re surfer dudes…or at least some sort of sea-faring enthusiasts. This assumption is based on their band name, Current Swell. That kind of term seems like local knowledge.
Assumption Number 2: well, that was really the only assumption.
Once I broke out of the cycle of listening to “Red Shag” over and over, I dove into the album the song appears on, Protect Your Own. The album kicks off with a real shit kicker, hum dinger of a jam, “Nail “em Up.” A clearer picture of who Current Swell is was starting to form. But was that picture forming correct? Were they a gang of rambunctious sea-faring youths from Southern California or was that just an incorrect initial impression? Well friend, the next song is “All I Need” and is decidedly less energetic than “Red Shag” or “Nail ’em Up” and now I didn’t know who the hell Current Swell were. Three songs are usually enough to let you know almost exactly what you are dealing with when it comes to a band. This was not the case with Current Swell. They were the Log Lady on Twin Peaks– a complete mystery to me, yet incredibly appealing.
Who the heck are Current Swell? Are they even from Southern California? Are they even cool with the ocean? Instead of dudes cool with the sea, maybe they have no love for the sea, but instead have a huge affinity for moods- like hey man, what’s your mood right now at this moment? Currently swell. Okay, cool.
Some research needed to be done.Right off the bat this needed to be cleared up- Current Swell are not from Southern California. They are not even from the United States of America. They’re Canadians! From Canada! Specifically Current Swell are from Vancouver, British Columbia, which for you Canada-novices is the most western of the Canadian provinces. Home of the Canucks! So that’s kind of strange, but also not really. America shouldn’t have any kind of claim to white dude surfer jams any more than Canada should be able to lay claim to great hockey players. Shit is interchangeable. America might have more white dude surfer jams and Canada might have produced more hockey players, but that doesn’t mean that either country owns the rights to either nook of dude. So Current Swell are Canadian. Either way, I didn’t see that coming.
There are four of them. One is named Ghosty Boy. He plays bass. Bass players are weirdos. Homeboy has a legit flavor saver occupying his chin.
But enough about this Ghosty Boy character…
Current Swell, to be completely honest, sound like the four way intersection of the following people/bands: Jack Johnson, Dispatch, Mason Jennings, Local Natives. Their music is largely driven by acoustic guitar and harmonies, with the exception being a tune like “Red Shag,” which pulsates with reckless energy and enthusiasm and sounds like a less bruising version of Sublime. The majority of Current Swell’s music is chill- they are beach jams, whether your beach time is spent chilling, surfing, preparing to surf, bonfire boozin’, gallivanting, or spending time your pup. Current Swell are easy to listen to, easy to enjoy. They’re like ice cream- always a good time.
“Red Shag,” the tune that got me into the band, is off of third album, 2009’s Protect Your Own. They have released five albums, the most recent being 2014’s Ulysses. It’s easily their most mature-sounding record and they seem to be settling into a sound and style- acoustic-driven, groove rock.
The band plays mostly in Canada, although they’ve ventured south a couple times for American shows- largely on the west coast. There has been a tour or two in England and forays further down south in Brazil. For us East Coasters, no sign of Current Swell yet. Seems only a matter of time, though. We have beaches, we have an ocean. We can be accommodating. Just don’t let this latest Ebola scare keep you away, Current Swell. Everything will be a-okay.
Final Verdict and Last Words on Current Swell: It’s fun discovering new music and Current Swell are a fun band. The ease of their sound helps defeat any notion that they’d be someone you’d get tired of.
You can learn more about Current Swell HERE.
And you can listen to Current Swell on this handy Best of Current Swell playlist curated for this very purpose…