Safely guarded behind four pairs of glasses and an arsenal of awkward tendencies, the members of By Surprise have spent an equal amount of time combing through the forgotten dust-filled grooves of 7-inch records released during the 90s indie label boom, as they have with the off-beat and inspirational works of Henry David Thoreau, Jack Kerouac, and Douglas Adams.
Mountain Smashers, the band’s first full-length album, and their first with Boston based Topshelf Records, romanticizes with the feelings of reluctance we’ve all felt towards growing up, slowing down, losing touch, and selling out. Clocking in at thirty minutes, it combines both the influence of those dusty 7” records, often overlooked, with the lessons learned from the aforementioned authors. It admits defeat, while exuding reassurance. It questions the norms, while embracing the inevitable.
Mountain Smashers was recorded in the band’s hometown of Haddon Heights, NJ at The Gradwell House with Dave Downham of Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start, and was mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service. Weston, bassist of Shellac and an also elder statesman of the independent music scene, has also worked on records with such bands as Archers of Loaf, Boys Life, Polvo, The Get Up Kids, Vitreous Humor, Sebadoh, and LCD Soundsystem.
The guitars are loud and the feedback bleeds, the vocals clash in uniformed motion, and the lyrics are kind of weird. It’s by far the band’s most focused effort to date, and in some ways, it’s their most adventurous.