While I love doing the Gremmy Awards, I hate that so much weighs on my own quirky opinions. Every year there are some great records that don't make the lists but that I genuinely enjoyed, and that feels like a snub. So I started asking a few other people to help out, spread out to different point of views. People that I know are very involved in surf, are following new releases closely, but don't have a platform of their own to espouse their opinions. Three surf nuts from all over the globe have stepped forward. I've given them full reign on how they want to do it.
If YOU think there's a great record that needs attention, head to the comments!
Kevin hails from Nebraska and isn't a DJ, he's not in a band, he's just addicted to this stuff. If you're in a few surf groups on facebook, you'll notice he's often the first person to let people know about a new surf record that just came out. Here's what he has to say.
I would have to deem 2016 as “The Year of the Chups,” bringing Messer Chups all the way from Russia to tour the USA. The tour was highlighted by their appearance at the SG101 Convention in August. Sixteen was also a breakout year for another fantastic Russian surf musician, Amphibian Man. Without a doubt he is one of the most productive artists in the genre releasing five albums this year totaling thirty-six tracks! Everyone’s favorite 90’s band, The Space Cossacks, also released a fantastic live performance pulled from their archives that will not disappoint any surf fan.
So without further ado here are my top 5 favorite surf albums from 2016:
5. Jonny And The Shamen – Anthology of Espionage
This collection contains JATS entire catalog of two albums (Operation:Twang - 1998, Adventures In Espionage - 2000) as well as unreleased demos of never recorded tracks and alternate versions of pre-released ones. Fans of Man or Astro-man and spy surf will LOVE this! Jonny was the guitarist involved in Man or Astro-Man’s Alpha Clone Project. Favorite track: Spy’s Night Out.
4. The Grande Bois – Surf Salvation
I was unfamiliar with The Grande Bois prior to this release. I knew I needed to check these guys out based on the good things I’ve been hearing about them and I was intrigued by the cover art work. This album goes above and beyond surf, closing with quite the jam in “Rumble At The Docks’. I recommend this for those who like their surf a bit edgy. Favorite track: ‘The Last Outpost’.
3. Los Venturas – Miles High
One of the many highlights from Surfer Joe’s Summer Festival this year was Los Venturas live debut of their new album ‘Miles High’. This was a highly anticipated release from Green Cookie Records and definitely did not disappoint! Everyone will find something they love on this album. Being a five piece group with a Hammond organ really allows these guys to stretch out across styles. The song writing is very intricate and requires a number of listens to fully absorb. Favorite track: Taboo.
2. The Coffin Daggers – Aggravatin’ Rhythms
I have always been a fan of The Coffin Daggers ever since I heard their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ years ago. This is their first full length album release in five years and it is well worth the wait. This album is sooo good, I can’t quit listening to it!! It’s been in my rotation since it first came out early in the year. Favorite track: Instigator.
…and my top new surf album of 2016 is…
1. Anonymous Henchmen – The Mole’s Phonic Findings (Anonymous Henchmen Surveillance Tape)
I was present at this show on September 15, 2015 (not released until September, 2016) when all three of Omaha, Nebraska’s local surf bands (The Sub-Vectors, Huge Fucking Waves and AH) played their one and only show together…ever! Anonymous Henchmen guest guitarist Tag Ryan fit in nicely and played well for this being his one and only appearance with AH. This album really shows Man or Astroman’s influence on Anonymous Henchmen’s stage presence. You can check them out on bandcamp. Favorite track: Don’t Cross The Duke.
Well, that's his name on bandcamp at least (SG101 members may know him as UKAY54). He hails from Germany and every year he helps me find a few surf albums that I missed for the Big List of Surf Records.
Okay, here are my Top 5 surf albums released 2016:
Nr. 5 The Kanaloas – Surf A Go Go!
Nr. 4 The Concussions - Newaygo Sound Machine
Nr. 3 The Volcanics – Stompin’ Garage
Nr. 2 The Space Cossacks – Live Supernova
Nr. 1 The Bradipos IV – The Partheno-Phonic Sound Of …
For me it was no question, what is the number one album from 2016. The new Bradipos IV album contains an amazing mix of traditional melodies from Naples arranged and played in surf style. This mix works extremely well. Great melodies and excellent guitar work . “ Amaro E O Bbene” for me is one of the most beautiful surf tunes ever recorded.
And a special honorable mention for the best album from a newcomer band
Odicolon – Dracula’s Dreams
Leopoldo Furtado de Castro
Leopoldo is the man behind Reverb Brasil, a label/brand dedicated to promoting Brazil's surf and instro groups. As such, he's got a bit of a slant, but the whole point of the Guest Gremmys is to get a different perspective.
It was a great honor to be invited to have my own Gremmy Awards! I’ll just create my own categories and that’s it. No rules! I’ll pick a lot of Brazilian surf bands because that’s what I really follow.
The Mullet Monster Mafia – Surf’n’Goat – Drunkabilly
Felix Laflame’s artwork really captured The Mullet Monster Mafia vibe. They are surf, but they sure have some inclination to the dark side. The cover features a goat with a tiki mask and a pentagram with some surf boards, all in black and red. I was impressed as soon as I saw it for the first time, and it fits the songs pretty well. Forget about that loser playing heavy metal riffs and saying “Metal without Overdrive = Surf Music”. The Mullet Monster Mafia is so much more metal than anything that guy played and so much more surf than a lot that is done today. So kudos to Felix for capturing this feeling so well.
Retrofoguetes – Enigmascope Volume 1 – Indústrias Karzov
Retrofoguetes is one of the most amazing surf bands in Brazil. The last album they released was Chachachá back in 2009 and they came back this year with Enigmascope Volume 1. It works as a soundtrack to a Spy Movie that only exists in the band’s imagination. So you have a track that is supposed to be the opening sequence, pursuit tracks, villain tracks and also tracks for all the international travels the spy makes, including bossa nova (“Hotel Cruzeiro”), mambo ("Miss Cuba”), Turkish psychedelic electric citar (“Conexão Istambul”) and so on. “Hong Kong a Go-Go” is already one of my favorite surf tracks ever! (“Hong Kong Surfers” by Os Ostras is my all-time favorite Brazilian surf tune, so if you want to please me I guess you just need to name a song “Hong Kong anything”). Retrofoguetes is one of those few bands which really create images on you head while you listen to their songs, which is a true gift treasured by most musicians.
Gasolines – Jungle Surfers - Reverb Brasil Records
I’ve been a Gasolines fan for at least 15 years and it is really amazing that after being active for so long (they started back in 1993!) they would make their best record so far! When they started they were much more garage oriented; latin and exotica influences grew from album to album. On Jungle Surfers, they really reached the point where you can’t define what is surf and what is not. They mix Brazilian, Latin, African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean music with surf with such elegance that not even Link Wray's cover Viva Zapata (named Viva Link Wray on the CD) sounds out of place.
Best New Band
The band was formed in 2015 and in 2016 they had already recorded their first album (set to be released on January, 2017). They released a couple of tracks online and I'm really glad we have new bands sounding so good. That’s what keeps the scene alive.
Los Twin Tones – Surfer Joe Summer Festival
I saw a great number of surf concerts this year (thanks to Surfer Joe Summer Festival) and Los Twin Tones were one of the most amazing shows I've ever saw. The arrangements, the musicianship and even their outfit, everything was great. I was stupid enough to wait until the last day of the festival to buy their records and they were no longer available.
Gasolines at 15º Primeiro Campeonato Mineiro de Surfe, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
The band was on fire and so was the crowd. There was no longer a line between who was playing and who was watching. Everyone was having fun together.
The Tremolo Beer Gut at Garagera, in São Paulo, Brazil.
I was with them during most of their tour in Brazil, but the first show I saw was in São Paulo and the crowd was wild. When they finished their version of Minha Menina (released on their Brazilian tour 7’’), the crowd continued singing the lyrics for the song; one of those moments you get goosebumps in a concert.
Top 10 Brazilian Surf Tracks released in 2016 (in no particular order)
The Dead Rocks – Minor Swing (live)
Footstep - Sasha Stomp
Gasolines - Belly Bella
Ivan Motosserra - Surf'a'Billy
Jubarte Ataca - Praia Paia Party Time
The Mullet Monster Mafia - Black Coffin Board
O Boi Solitário - Fuga da Vila Proibida
Os Gatunos - Pobre Coitado
Paquetá - Eu não tenho controle sobre as minhas atitudes
Retrofoguetes - Hong Kong A-Go-Go