Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tomorrows Tulips Get Together Better

Tomorrows TulipsFresh off a release party at an RVCA store in late July, Tomorrows Tulips are already busy running around. Sometimes the shows are aligned with a traditional touring schedule. Sometimes they might follow the surf.

That makes sense for the Costa Mesa duo, supported by musicians when they need them. They aren't a band by trade. Or, at least, they weren't a band by trade. It's just something they picked up together, literally.

Pro surfer Alex Knost (his skateboarding ain't bad either) picked up a piccolo snare drum at the thrift store. He handed it to his girlfriend, Christina Kee. And the two of them started Tomorrows Tulips — an alternative lo-fi psychedelic pop duo supported by other musicians to present their unpolished surf-beach vibe.

Eternally Teenage keeps it imperfectly simple.

The first half of Eternally Teenage came in three nights on a reel-to-reel tape in their friend's studio, The Distillery. That's where the album started, but it almost didn't end there. Galaxia Records, the label behind the release, told them to head up to San Francisco to finish it.

But missing the charm of analog, Knost and Kee weren't keen on the result and headed back to their lo-fi surroundings. Knost would know. Although Tomorrows Tulips came together on the quick, it isn't his first band.

Knost is better known by some for his first band.

That band started just as haphazardly seven years ago. A bunch of guys got together in a basement not knowing anything about instruments and, bang, they became Japanese Motors.

The experience certainly helped give Knost an edge in starting the side project; a confidence that builds with all artists who don't try too hard. He doesn't try as much as he goes with it. It just all comes together naturally, creating music that sort of shimmers in its own haze and simplistic melodies. At first pass, you might not even like it.

Give the right songs a couple passes, however, and the quirkiness of it kicks in so hard it sticks. Sure, Kee keeps the drumming to simple rhythms, letting Knost do the rest of the work, sometimes convincing you that they share vocal duties. They don't. He changes his voice as playfully as he directions on a longboard.

Running down the track list to find a few gems.

Although the 14-track album has more chance of inspiring a half dozen young guys to buy their girlfriends a drum set than influencing music, some tracks are true standouts in their own right. Among them: Eternally Teenage, Shades Of Grey, and Optimistic Vibes. The last one mentioned is the best track, with Knost lowering his vocals and amping up some cynicism.

The three best all run around two minutes or less. Outside of those three, check out Hotel Nowhere and Unconditional Silence. Just consider yourself warned that the rest is mostly hit, miss, and best left unplayed. Specifically, pass on Lull, Casual Hopelessness, and Living Room Sensative (sic). As for the last two tracks, Space Box and Tired, they are exactly what they sound like they might be. Tired with space to fill. Better saved for space in- etween songs at live gigs.

Eternally Teenage By Tomorrows Tulips Treads 3.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale

Sometimes when I listen too long to Tomorrows Tulips, I start to wonder if I picked the album solely because of the carefree way Knost and Kee decided to make it. But then Optimistic Vibes and Shades Of Grey cue up on the playlist and reset the head.

There is something undoubtedly alluring and clever about the music. Even better, some of the videos play better than the album; the result of having more time to perfect their songs on tour.

Eternally Teenage is available on iTunes, where it is being mostly ignored. Amazon also has Eternally Teenage, and the vinyl release can be picked up at Barnes & Noble.
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