Photo: Jordan Munns
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Winston Surfshirt is a band crafting their own path in the music scene. In a time where most common trends find themselves rotating from hip-hop, pop/R&B, to some variation of bedroom pop, the Aussies continue to put forward funk records with undeniable appeal. It is tough to find a niche for the band to fill but that is where the beauty is, with no clear label, Winston Surfshirt is just making really good music. Drawing comparisons to the funk nature of Anderson .Paak, the group feels as though they draw a sort of equivalence to the iconic collective, A Tribe Called Quest, maybe mixed with a bit of KC and the Sunshine Band for good measure.
Since 2014, the group has been developing a growing worldwide fan base. Others who are in the know include Sir Elton John who has touted the group as “the stars of the show” and Zane Lowe of Beats 1 radio. Now, the Aussie band is welcoming fall with their newest full-length project, Apple Crumble, which ironically feels like anything but cold weather. Then again, I think it’s just about summer in Australia.
Apple Crumble holds onto a few iconic Winston Surfshirt singles, such as “For the Record” which debuted back in 2018. However, the feel of the song fits perfectly into the project’s bigger picture. “For the Record” is a perfect representation of what the group brings forward in their unique niche of contemporary music. With quick high hats, lovely brass instruments, hypnotic vocals, and poetic songwriting, the single deserves to be heard as a stand-alone track and in the grander scope of the group’s album.
Apple Crumble is home to enough quality music to just be left on shuffle for hours. Each song is guaranteed to make a room vibrant and moving. At the album’s midpoint, the track “Smile” completely steals the show. The track’s chorus repeats, “Smile for me, beautiful / I wanna see who you are,” and it is an absolutely infectious moment. Even as I sit here writing it out I can’t help but let out a wide grin.
Along with the wholesome chorus, Winston Bustliop, the group’s lead vocalist, showcases his ability to lay down a clean verse just as well as he sings a chorus. It is here where the confidence and funk that can only be matched by the likes of Anderson .Paak truly comes into focus.
To close out Apple Crumble, the group brings forward “Bolney Stage 2,” which is a lovely jazzy take without any vocals aside from washed-out background conversation. With a clean saxophone blessing most of the track and gentle keys setting it all up, the pure instrumentation on the track creates a dreamlike sensation of fading into a blue and pink cup of Trix yogurt. The audio cascades to a climax and then slowly fades to nothing, drawing the album to a blissful close.
Winston Surfshirt has collectively cemented their role in music with their sophomore effort as harbingers of funk. Funk will never die, especially with these Aussies spearheading the movement. Good music never goes out of style.
Listen to Apple Crumble below: