David Thomas

Surf's Up

Release Date: 02/15/2001 · Format: CD · Catalog-No:

Pere Ubu singer David Thomas and his wild guitar & trumpet splinter group, two pale boys, generate strange, beautiful new shapes, rolling stories and sonic panoramas out of spontaneous deconstructions. The simple see-sawing of a melodeon gives way to cascading electronica and expressionistic soundscapes - sometimes pulsating and abrasive, sometimes mysterious and exploratory. Through it all runs the mordant wit of one of the most distinctive and charismatic singers in modern music.
“Surf´s Up!” is the second studio album from David Thomas and two pale boys but it's the group's fourth release overall. Mirror Man (1999), a live recording featuring the group expanded into David Thomas and The Pale Orchestra, was praised widely and enthusiastically. Mojo called it a "tour de force." Meadville, a live bonus disk included in the David Thomas, Monster (1997) box set, was selected by preeminent rock critic Greil Marcus as his favorite record of the year. The first studio album, Erewhon (1996), is "red-blooded, haunted and literally fantastic," according to a rave in The Wire.

Among the highlights from “Surf´s Up! “is the thrilling "Runaway," which loops electric banjo around growling guitars and phone-box-in-hell vocals. "River" swells and subsides before bursting its banks in a glorious technicolour deluge of noise. The Beach Boys aunting epic "Surf's Up" begins sumptuous and gilded, then seems to unwind and unravel in a sonic sleight-of-hand that will leave you breathless. Thomas delivers a vocal so powerfully direct it is quite devastating. (The cover of "Surf's Up," one of the most "feared" of Brian Wilson's compositions for would be coverists, is based on versions from bootlegs of the lost Smile album.)

David Thomas is the founder of avant-rock legends Pere Ubu, a group that's exerted a huge influence on the way countless bands have approached music since 1975. With the two pale boys he sings and plays melodeon. The two pale boys (2pbs) are Andy Diagram (trumpet & electronics) and Keith Moliné (guitar & electronics). Andy, a member of James in the early 90s, has played in a number of influential groups, including Dislocation Dance, The Diagram Brothers and The Honkies. Currently he plays with the 2pbs and his own group, Spaceheads. Keith refuses to play in rock (or jazz) bands. His approach to music derives from "a careful diet of high-art electronica and low-art Goth." He has played in Infidel and as Mesmerist.

”Even in the midst of Pere Ubu's proto-industrial futurism, the Cleveland avant-rockers retained the core values embodied in the Platonic three-minute pop song (nicely demonstrated on the group's recently issued Thirsty Ear live set, "Apocalypse Now," a small masterpiece recorded in 1991). Bandleader David Thomas has pushed the envelope in myriad solo projects over the years. With Two Pale Boys -- trumpeter Andy Diagram and guitarist Keith Moline adding to the leader's free-floating vocals and melodeon -- he seeks pop-art bliss via spontaneity and space, with songcraft still in mind. As an ideal exemplar of this aesthetic, the title track transforms the Golden State poetry of the Brian Wilson/Van Dyke Parks classic into a twilight dirge. The original vessel may be stretched, but the charm and beauty flow unimpeded, now unencumbered by time. The engaging originals are folk-art nocturnes, evocatively off-kilter. Beyond the Ubu faithful, fans of artists as diverse as Brian Eno and Tom Waits will hear a kindred spirit here.” (Billboard)

Visit Artist Site


1. Runaway
2. Man In The Dark
3. Night Driving
4. Surf’s Up
5. River
6. Ghosts
7. Spider In My Stew
8. Come Home – Green River