The Deep are a trio from Germany that, despite the simplistic surf-ish cover, have a lot of big ideas. This is not your 60's surf by a longshot, taking more cues from moodier groups like Bambi Molesters or maybe the Mermen and focusing a bit more on sound than an infectious beat. The result is cinematic, somewhat psychedelic, and a surf record that engages your frontal lobe a bit more than your lizard brain. If you're a fan of the Aussie band The Break then this might work well for you. "...Read more
Regretfully it wasn't until the end of the year that I actually sunk my teeth into The Isotopes' 2016 release Overstay Their Welcome. Looks like they're already back with a new one, and this time I'm paying attention.
The name of this record suggests a bit more of a trad surf bent than their style-hopping previous album, and that does seem to be happening by perhaps a smidge, but there's still a lot of very fresh non-60's ideas going on with different...Read more
Doyley and the Twanglords is an all-instro pursuit from Diablo Records owner Philip Doyle, who has played guitar for rockabilly and psychobilly bands like Guitar Slingers, Demented Are Go, and The Klingonz. Like many 'billy nuts out there, he's got a penchant for surf as well, and this is a compilation of his instrumental efforts over the last 20 years.
Thoughout these 20 tracks, that rockabilly beat and (predictably) twangin' guitar is probably the most consistenly...Read more
In 2016 as part of Record Store Day festivities at Third Man Records, Man or Astroman played a live set recording directly to acetate... which sounds pretty appropriate for both the band and the label. That performance is available on vinyl now--and from what I've heard it's vinyl only, no digital download.
You can grab it from...Read more
For a while WJLP's Petomaniac was one of the best free surf/instro albums you could find on bandcamp. They've since decided to get paid for it, though still pretty damn affordable (and very worth it) at €5. Though they've sprinkled instrumentals here and there since then, but they're back to a full instrumental record with a spacey sci-fi movie theme.
Their take on Sci-Fi generally means a lot of organ, healthy reverb, and a pretty casual tempo. If that sounds...Read more
After a series of great EPs, The Cavaleros have finally gone and put an album together. If you've been following them this far, nearly all of these will be familiar to you. Heck, half of them are covers, so that might still be the case if you've never heard them. Still, there's reason to be excited, because The Cavaleros are exciting! Their loud and raw sound is fast and punchy and just the right amount of lo-fi. It takes a special breed to do a Link Wray cover that doesn't just make you...Read more
Everything on bandcamp and social media about Spacecramp is meaningless nonesense, so I guess I kinda expected something more ridiculous in the music. But we've actually got a pretty straight-faced though fun instro record. There's not exactly all that much surftone; it's more reminiscent of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. It starts out with the fun and energetic "Whistle Monkey", but also swings into a spacey sound with the later half of "Whip-n-out Burger" and even gets kinda nice and...Read more
If your idea of Russian surf is steeped in B-movies and creepiness, Air Cats band are here to show you a brighter side with a more Shadowsy/Rautalanka guitar tone. Their songs are adventurous but cool, with a tendency to get bouncy rather than nasty ("Billy Bones Boogie") and mysterious rather than creepy ("Hours & Minutes"). It's a fun record to sit back and enjoy the ride, and your wallet can sit back too: free download.
Black Flamingos' name and album art suit them well: fun and exotic, but with a sketchy side. There is a beach party going on for sure, but somebody said they saw a shark.
First and foremost, this is a surf record. "Flamingo Twist" and "Cock Grease" are plain ol' fun party tracks with no hint of anything "wrong". But there's tinges of jazzy drumming, some darker, slower, more minor key guitar playing, some harpsichord, (!) some eerie whistling that adds a bit of a...Read more
Man, what is it about Finland? El Supernaut have released their 3rd LP and have more than earned some recognition in the instro scene. Gorilla Fighter is a bright, punchy record full of ideas. Their last LP Plays Half Dead was great, but it was literally half (excellent) Dead Kennedys covers. Playing mostly original material now, they sneak in hints of Booker T and the MGs on "Fool For Your Loving", a ska beat on "Die Mauer Brechen", a bit more of a straightforward 90's...Read more
This is the 4th release from The Chemist and even if you missed everything up to this point, the label should give you a good idea of what you're getting: loud, fast, power surf. Not just a trashy take on the 60's sound but instrumentals with oomph and size, definitely of the Man or Astro-man family. "Farm Nightmare" and "Kallocaine" change things up with the drumming and "escape from cerclon" has some theremin freakout. If you're like me, you need to have a regular intake of this sort of...Read more
At 19 songs and just short of an hour, there's a lot to digest here. Surf Out! is a duo with some help from friends playing garagey trad surf. At times that duo-ness sounds Flat Duo Jetsy, like on "Tango Whiskey" but they'll also do these slower numbers like "Sunsets and Surfboards". I think "Mariposa" strikes a nice balance between moments of elegance and a damn-it-all grab to make some noise. "Don't Freak Out" almost has a Dinosaur Jr grungey sound to it, and "Big Surf in Winnetka" takes...Read more
Some straight trad stuff from Culebra here with a focus on melody over racket. Though guitar is at the forefront, the little touches of sax and organ are a nice sub-surface flourish. Though adequate, I think the sound production here isn't doing these songs justice -- there are some nice, memorable tunes here but they don't present themselves well on first listen. My favorite is the opener "Tres Palmeras"
You can buy it on 7" vinyl or digital download from Bandcamp.
The Terminators play fast, mean, and short surf instrumentals with what I assume is humorous Russian stage banter peppered throughout. It's extremely short, with each song coming in at less than 1 minute and 30 seconds when you skip the talking, but those instrumentals are worth it! They're well produced, well played, and full of energy.
I can't find much else on them, but I like what I've heard.
Apparently they've released more material this year so I'll embed all three. Each...Read more
Despite consistently enticing album art, I am not well acquainted with The Illuminators' material. They play modern/progressive instrumentals with a bit of mood and punch to them. There's a desert/spaghetti western theme going on on this EP that probably comes out strongest in "Memento Amorella", which might also be the most melodically memorable moment of the EP. This isn't really a direct Ennio Morricone thing though -- I hear just as much of the Madeira in here as that, but not quite as...Read more
Los Tiki Phantoms are back with another album of lighthearted, carefree, pop-garage surf instrumentals. Though there are a few more effects, brass instruments, and spaghetti western sounds, it still has that bright and sunny Los Tiki Phantoms feel. They don't change the formula much, but I think of them as dependable rather than sounding stale.
Took me a while to find the...Read more
So close to being able to say "Release the Kraken". Anyway, Z and the K's are a trad surf band out of Copenhagen playing 100% covers, including some from the 90's and onwards. I was surprised at how naturally they could fit songs by The Atlantics, The Ghastly Ones and Man or Astro-man right next to more standardized surf standards like Pipeline and Squad Car. Speaking of cohesiveness, the second half of the album was live but a nice enough recording that the talking before and after the...Read more
Every once in a while retro electronic music collides with retro analog rock & roll and we get a chiptune surf record.
The ones I've heard don't usually do covers of classic instro tunes, which does make this especially interesting. However, it's not full chiptune, as there's clearly some guitar in there (am I seriously complaining about guitar use?). I think "Cross Ties" and "Reveille Rock" are the best use of this sound, while the latter two amount to basically...Read more