Philly Local Philes: By Surprise’s “Realometer”

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Cap N’ Jazz, Jets To Brazil, Braid…take your pick. You can hear any of those classic ’90s indie/emo bands reflected in South Jersey quartet By Surprise. Add in a healthy Bob Pollard fixation, and it could be easy to predict the band’s sound from song to song. Until now. Where its prior output was confined to split 7-inches and a punchy-but too-short EP (2009’s Four On Seven In Eight), By Surprise stretches out and gets adventurous on its debut full length, Mountain Smashers (released next Tuesday on Topshelf Records). The overall sound is thicker and more daring—there are guitar lines nodding to Lee Ranaldo and amp tones reminiscent of Superchunk—and Pat Gartland has grown more vocally confident. Some moments delve into unexpectedly subdued and somber territory: “Direct Loans,” written and sung by guitarist (and Y-Rock alum) Rob Wilcox, will break your heart. Today’s Philly Phile features the album’s first single, “Realometer”; tune in to Y-Rock tonight at 10 p .m. for the Philly Local Second Shift to hear the band play a short studio set, and tell us where they came from and where they’re going.

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