The Squires of the Subterrain – Sandbox (2012)

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Chris Earl is actually the face behind this curiously christened vehicle, and for the past 20-odd years he has been depositing one amazing recording after another.

Strictly homespun affairs, these projects firmly express the Squires of the Subterrain‘s obsession with vintage music, which ropes in everything from surf rock to garage grub to flower power pop. Residing in Rochester, New York, the singer, songwriter and master of a wealth of different instruments, has duly amassed a solid fan base amid his travels matched by a plethora of positive press.

The Squires of the Subterrain’s new disc Sandbox (Rocket Racket Records) pays homage to the genius tunesmith skills of Brian Wilson and the magnificent music of the Beach Boys with so much conviction that you could easily be fooled into believing these are long lost sessions from the pride and joy of Hawthorne, California. “”Surfin’ Indiana” and “Idling In The Sun,” the latter which was released as a single, capture the warm and cheery ambience of true to form surf pop with absolute perfection, as they crackle and shimmer with chugging guitars, excitable vocals, kicking breaks and lyrics producing visions of hot-rodding down dusty roads, majestic beaches, sparkling oceans and bright blue skies.

Outfitted in layers of dreamy harmonies, “Lisa’s Tower,” “Endless Winter” and “(I Still) Mow Your Lawn” illuminate with wicked beauty, while “Carbon Footprint,” an instrumental, groans, grumbles and gurgles to a heavy, noggin-nodding rhythm. Penned of cute and cuddly sexual references, the spunky “The Cheatin’ Gibson Girl” is a sly ode to a Gibson guitar, and then there’s the eerily hypnotic “Rising Water,” that chants the title of the track over and over and over again. Whistling to the blinking beat of a titanic melody, “Woodrow Wilson” logs in as an additional golden egg included on the album.

Hanging tough to the philosophy of Brian Wilson, the Squires of the Subterrain refuses to confine himself to stock and trade surf rock. Strewn with quirky sound effects, unconventional arrangements and lightly salted psychedelic twists, Sandbox performs a superb task of incorporating the original style of the Beach Boys with their later progressive efforts. But don’t get me wrong. Although Sandbox deliberately revisits the mood and message of the legendary Southern California group, the Squires of the Subterrain slips enough of his own imagination into his catchy songs that allow them to journey beyond blatant imitation.

Alive with fun and flexibility, Sandbox is sure to satisfy old school surf rock connoisseurs as well as those who crave a spot of bizarreness now and then.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Beverly Paterson
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