Though it’s basically a pre-requisite for a good split record, it’s still worth noting that The Reference Desk and Beached Out go together like peanut butter and jelly. Partially it’s because both acts originated in Halifax, a notoriously creative hotbed of excellent music. But mostly the two acts have similar styles executed in slightly different ways.
The first half of this split comes courtesy of The Reference Desk. Though the name might make them sound like some kind of stuffy folk band, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This power trio plays some solid, surf-y rock with gloomy lyrical content. Guitar, drum and bass is the basic component of any rock sound, so they key to sticking out is being catchy as hell, and this band does it well.
“Try Not/Try To” features a great intermingling of bass and guitar over a steady drum beat. Andrew Glencross’ vocals carry a sense of weariness, as though he’s warning the listener of some impending doom. Somehow, that tone matches the crunchy, surf-y melody. On the other hand, “When You Drown” takes a little longer to unwind itself but is much more overt with its depressing lyrics about islands going silent when people drown.
Beached Out, on the other hand, are aptly-named, reveling even more in a surf-rock sound. “Tiny War” wastes no time in kicking some serious ass thanks to husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Anne Parker. There’s not a bit of excess meat on the bone as their surf-meets-Brit-pop sound becomes immediately catchy. Their fondness for reverb makes the song all the more pleasing. “Bad Breaks” somehow manages to become even more catchy, with Jeff and Anne’s vocal interplay becoming much more pronounced and a particularly great refrain later on.
This split may be called You’re Getting Close, but listeners will already be there, metaphorically at least. The Reference Desk and Beached Out should just form one big, awesome rock band. The Reference Beach? Desked Out?
Top Tracks: “Bad Breaks”; “When You Drown”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)