Now that it’s officially summer, we’re in for three-plus months of beach reads, beach bods and, of course, beach bands. After that explosion of nautically themed band names in the ’00s (think Beach House, Beech Creep, Surfer Blood, Shark?, etc.), “beach” band is a confusingly crowded field of surf rockers and lo-fi experimenters and everything in between. Don’t panic, though, we’re here to help. To keep you from looking like a shoobie when the conversation turns to music at the next bonfire singalong, we’ve broken down two Beach bands with upcoming shows that you definitely don’t want to get confused: Beach Slang and Beach Fossils.
Beach Slang is a four-piece from Philadelphia that sounds most like—and sometimes even acts like—the Replacements. They broke out in a big way with their most recent album, 2015’s Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, which was full of heart-on-their-sleeves anthems that straddled the line between college rock and punk. Confusingly, this band—and not Beach Fossils—is the one that’s fronted by a man in his 40s.
Beach Fossils, on the other hand, is a Brooklyn four-piece that peddles an entirely different kind of rock music. The dream-pop group is more fond of jangly, ethereal guitars and esoteric lyrics, all wrapped up in a somewhat lo-fi sensibility. They played a bunch at 285 Kent when it was still open, if that gives you a sense of which strain of the late-aughts Brooklyn sound to expect.
Beach Slang put out their debut LP just last year and other than that have a couple EPs and singles out in the world. Because of their touring schedule and the fact that their drummer just quit the band, it’s hard to say whether or not they have anything new in the works.
Beach Fossils’ most recent album was 2013’s Clash the Truth—which came on the tail of a string of EPs and coincided with line-up changes and releases from the other bands their members were in, including DIIV and Heavenly Beat. They are reportedly working on a new album, which is supposed to come out this year, but haven’t announced many details. They may, however, have been a little sidetracked by their collective turn as Mick Jagger’s kid’s backing band in the mercifully canceled HBO show Vinyl. Frontman Dustin Payseur is also a part of Brooklyn supergroup Laced, who their debut last fall, and whose members also include Nude Beach drummer Ryan Naideau. It’s all coming together.
Beach Slang was formed in 2013 by James Alex (AKA James Alex Snyder), the band’s frontman and songwriter. Alex had previously been a singer and guitarist in Pennsylvania pop-punk outfit Weston from the early 90s to the mid-00s. The group enjoyed modest success in the tri-state area, but never “broke big” in the way that some contemporaries like Lifetime and the Bouncing Souls did.
Beach Fossils was formed in 2009 as a solo project of singer and guitarist Dustin Payseur (AKA James Dustin Payseur). It was then expanded into a full band that included future DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith on drums. The band released a couple singles and EPs before releasing its self-titled debut in 2010.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Beach Slang as a spiteful, contrarian move against something Alex read in a music magazine. “Basically, I read an interview where a guy said no band with the word ‘beach’ in their name can be taken seriously,” he told Wondering Sound. “And I was like, ‘Oh yeah? Fuck you, I’m gonna put beach in the name and write the best fucking songs I’ve ever written in my life.’”
Beach Fossils, according to Payseur, came from a list of words he’d written down while reading, a habit he practices regularly: “Usually they’re words that aren’t as clear as Beach Fossils, but when you’re choosing a band name it needs to be something that people can remember. It’s kind of unfortunate because at the same time there was a lo-fi beach theme going on so we ended up getting lumped in with that. Now that’s phased out some maybe people will stop associating us with that genre.”
WHERE TO SEE THEM
Beach Slang is playing July 12 at the Knitting Factory, where they’ll cover all of the Replacements’ album Pleased to Meet Me.
Beach Fossils is playing a free show with the Feelies in Central Park on July 16.