Band of the Day

2012.01.21

The Botticellis

Nostalgic surf pop inspired by 1960s Californian beach culture
I'm only talking down to the people looking up.
lyrics from The Reviewer

The Botticellis are an indie pop/surf pop band from Santa Cruz, California. Inspired by 1960s California surf music and culture, The Botticellis are named after the Italian word for 'little barrel,' which is also a surf slang term for a type of wave. The group formed in 2003 when three of the members (Alexi Glickman, Burton Li, and former member Zack Erlich) were studying music at UC Santa Cruz. Soon after, they recruited a rotating roster of additional band members, and moved to San Francisco. They were signed to Antenna Farm Records, who released the band's debut LP (Old Home Movies) in 2008. Their sound is inspired by a mix of chamber pop, indie rock, and 60s West Coast surf music, with influences ranging from The Beach Boys, to Belle & Sebastian, to Big Star. The band's current line-up includes Alexi Glickman (lead vocals, guitar), Burton Li (guitar), Jeremy Black (drums), and Steve Taylor (bass). Although they haven't released an album since their 2008 debut, they're currently touring and recording.

The Botticellis are one of those bands whose origin couldn't be more fitting for the type of music they play. Formed in the Northern Californian beach town of Santa Cruz, California, in 2003, their music is heavily influenced by the surf culture that started there in the 1960s. The word “botticelli,” which is Italian for “little barrel,” even comes from the surf slang term for a type of wave that's favored by surfers (and members of the band). Like the surf pop music legends they're inspired by, most notably The Beach Boys, The Botticellis create songs that are brimming with gorgeous vocal harmonies. Written over the span of four years, in between day jobs, their debut album Old Home Movies plays out like a loving, nostalgic homage to this bygone era. Opening track “Old Home Movies” bounces along at a mid-tempo pace, like the moment you've finally gained your balance on a surfboard and begin riding a gnarly wave. Despite lyrics that make references to snowy Alaska (“Wait in the cold/You wait too long” sings Glickman), the album's title track has prominent keyboard lines that glimmer like the golden rays of the Californian sun. “The Reviewer” is the most immediately catchy track on the album, with booming drums that mimic the rhythm of waves crashing on the shore, and surfy guitar hooks that capture the feel of conquering the Pacific Ocean. If “The Reviewer” is the best Botticellis song to listen to while hanging ten, “New Room” is the one you'd want to listen to while lying on a warm patch of sand, as sunbeams act like nature's towel. It has touches of Beatles, with vocal harmonies of “la la las,” and inklings of Arcade Fire, with orchestral chamber pop flourishes of strings and keys. “Tongue Is Blue” has a simple, child-like innocence to it as Glickman describes various friends and their good qualities: “Terry is the prettiest/She is my friend,” he states candidly. “Who Are You Now” almost sounds like a 70s AM radio track that got lost on a rogue radio wave, only to finally be transmitted over 30 years later. It starts out with a breezy, soothing repetition of “Who are you now?” before swelling into a beautifully orchestrated baroque pop gem. While The Botticellis haven't released a new album since their 2008 debut, this is one album that deserves a place in your music collection.