[sic] Magazine

Christmas Island – Blackout Summer

Just when the lo-fi market seemed saturated along come Christmas Island to add their tuppence, though in fairness it’s worth slightly more than that. Part of a resurgent state-wide scene in California, Christmas Island hail from San Diego, which has also seen recent releases from the hit-and-miss acts Crocodiles and The Soft Pack (formally, of course, The Muslims).

Strangely, for a modern lo-fi record Christmas Island go easy on the fuzz but compensate with tinny production levels and echo-y recording. Their unchallenging garage-pop works its way under the skin in a Dinosaur Jr-meets-Television Personalities fashion. Brian Island and Lucy Wehyrl share vocal duty, him on guitar and her on drums.

And it’s a simple formula that produces likeable results. While some tracks arguably offer little such as the staccato minimalism of the opener “Pre-Apocolyptic”, others provide lo-fi rhythms that coast along as only purposefully slacker records can. “Black Cloud” is built on a lazy riff and “I Don’t Care” on youthful nihilism. Iconic organ adds variety in “Egypt”.

Blackout Summer picks up however on the dumb “Dinosaurs”, which expresses Island’s “bummed” nature at having missed the opportunity to co-exist with them. “It’s True” runs with this head of steam, introducing a wistful sense of melody to proceedings. The slower-paced “Weird You Out” further rounds out a strong tail-end, cruising close to the good ship Black Lips.

It all goes a little Ronettes on the tongue-in-cheek “My Baby”, but it’s darn effective. The spoken-word asides and insidious rhythms couldn’t have been better judged. The title track to finish is a joyous jangle pitched in between The Thermals and early, snotty skate-punk.

The ankle tattoo that appears on the sleeve is real, belonging to a friend of the band. Although Christmas Island are likely a short-lived outfit and Blackout Summer will never be the greatest record in any collection, it may gain them a niche following. Nevertheless, getting their tattoo seems a little extreme for the time being. Though, at least it’s in keeping, satisfactorily under-produced, and entirely better for it.