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Atlantic Thrills come out swinging on self-titled debut
By CHRIS CONTI  |  January 31, 2014

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BEACH BOYS Tanner, Aguiar, Towers, and Riley. [Photo by Krystalann Carrier]

Old Man Winter receives a swift kick in the pants courtesy of the full-length debut from Atlantic Thrills, due out next week via Brooklyn’s Almost Ready Records. Curling up with some hot cocoa during the latest polar vortex? Forget that. Grab some dirty shotglasses, whip up a batch of Surfer on Acid shots and soak up some Atlantic Thrills. This is a prime summertime party record — crackling dive bar anthems loaded with fuzzy ’60s psychedelic fuzz, garage and, straight-up surf-rock numbers — just in time for the dead of winter. Pre-order the album ($14 vinyl, $7 CD) at almostreadyrecords.com or grab a copy a few days in advance at this weekend’s record release party.

Atlantic Thrills co-founders/vocalists Eric Aguiar (bass) and Dan Tanner (guitar) have been working rooms for nearly 15 years, dating back to their hip-hop days as Birthwrite (and later Exile & Lokey), which turned out to provide pivotal inspiration in shaping the Thrills’ sound.

“Dan and I grew addicted to sampling ’60s psychedelic garage records, and that’s how it all began,” Aguiar said earlier this week. From there, the AT’s history takes a harrowing turn — in 2009, Tanner suffered a horrific accident when he was struck by a car while skateboarding.

“I don’t technically remember what happened, but I do know I was run over by a Lexus and dragged across [Service Road 7] in front of the police station,” said Tanner. “I was pronounced dead on the scene and was rushed to the ICU.

“Just as they were about to defibrillate my heart, I woke up swinging,” Tanner continued. “One of the nurses came into my hospital room three weeks later and told me she was terrified of me.”

Tanner awoke from a coma with severe nerve damage to his limbs, but throughout his recovery, he and Aguiar played acoustic guitars and write songs.

“I spent two years learning how to use my arms and walk again, and during that time playing guitar was a means of rehabilitation,” Tanner said. He regained his motor skills and Atlantic Thrills (Aguiar’s practice space was inside the Atlantic Mills in PVD) launched in the summer of 2010. After some initial lineup changes, Aguiar’s friend Kelly Riley came onboard in 2011 and drummer Josh Towers (formerly of killer local vets the Sleazies and Midnight Creeps) finalized the lineup in 2012.

Fast-forward to 2013 and Tanner is taking center stage on the summertime surf romp “Day At the Beach,” the first single offAtlantic Thrills. And clearly the man is feeling good —really good — when he howls out the line, “My hand was on some titties and my song was on theray-dee-yooo.” CMJ just premiered the video (directed by Riley, who doubles as an award-winning documentary filmmaker) and commended the song as “a boss slab of summertime top-down bubblegum dropped in an ashtray.” The disc opens with Aguiar’s bassline on “Problems,” before Towers and the crew jump in and unleash a foot-stomping gallop. The band’s affinity for moonshine is no surprise when shouting out singalong anthems like “Boozin’ All Night,” and the highly influential Velvet Underground sound (“That’s all my doing — I’m a die-hard fan,” said Aguiar) is on display on the angel-dusted cuts “Light Shines” (“I saw God in the bathroom”) and personal favorite “Acid Rain” (I could envision a rap DJ sampling that guitar lick). “Holy Mountain” grinds with MC5 grit, followed by the spazzy pop nugget “Lie to Me.” Riley takes the lead on “Foreign Lands” and “Drugs In It.” And the closing cuts “On My Mind” and “Give It Back” have been in rotation at previous shows, while the one-take burner “Blind Leads the Blind” will make its debut this weekend, as Tanner confirmed the band will perform the new album in its entirety.

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