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"I'd read the things people may know/ The stories they fit me into," David Thomas sings with his usual cryptic, mordant wit. For such a large man, he has a delicate voice, one that evokes desolate vistas and surreal places. He's been creating his own punk American gothic since the mid-1970s with Pere Ubu and more recently with trumpeter Andy Diagram and guitarist Keith Moline (the Two Pale Boys). Surf's Up, the follow-up to their 1996 studio album Erewhon, sounds like deranged Midwestern surf music. Guitars are fed through echo machines and radio receivers, while Thomas's voice weaves around atmospheric beats. The title track in particular, a cover from Brian Wilson's lost Smile album, has an off-kilter tonal beauty--like Miles Davis meets a mad Beach Boys. It, like the entire album, is highly recommended. --Lucy O'Brien