Jack and Eliza are young, but their music is mature. It’s guitar-driven pop reminiscent of a time when you heard real instruments on the radio, photographs were processed on film, and surfing was still a subculture. And, while they don’t intentionally try to sound like the ’60s and ’70s, Jack Staffen and Eliza Callahan say that the music from their parents’ old LPs — “stuff like the Kinks, the Mamas and the Papas, and Carole King,” according to Callahan — is what has stuck with them more than the music of bands today.
They’re on to something. The duo played the huge Planned Parenthood event in late May in Bridgehampton. They will also be at Pilgrim Surf and Supply and Innersleeve Records in Amagansett, and Melet Mercantile in Montauk. They have two records out, their latest full-length one wonderfully titled Gentle Warnings.
Staffen and Callahan, both 21, grew up here in the summers, with salt on their skin. They’ve been friends and making music together since high school. The music that comes from a shingled Sag Harbor shed converted into a makeshift recording studio sounds like the end of August — warm but melancholy.
At dawn when the waves are up, Staffen and Callahan leave the Callahan house in Sag Harbor for Ditch Plain in Montauk. Callahan suits up and paddles out while Staffen gets a coffee from the Ditch Witch and sits alone in the sand watching his friend surf, sometimes thinking of melodies and lyrics. (Like the surf-rock bands before them, not everyone in the band is a surfer. Dennis Wilson, the late drummer of the iconic Beach Boys, was the only surfer in the group.)
Their sound is a product, quite literally, of summer: For as long as they’ve been making music together, they’ve both been in school (now it’s college, Staffen at N.Y.U. and Callahan at Columbia). Their sound is nostalgic, but it doesn’t give the impression that the good old days are long gone. Perhaps that’s because the good old days, for this duo, are now.