California

The Volcanics - Forgotten Cove

The Volcanics - Forgotten Cove

I’ve been looking forward to this album for a good while now, especially since I saw the artwork way back at SG101 last year. Though the album cover evokes a bit more narrative and intrigue than anything they’ve had previously, it wasn’t the draw of something new that attracted me – it was the promise of what The Volcanics always provide.

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The Cholla releases Link of the Surf Guitar EP

The Cholla - Link of the Surf Guitar

I think cartridge-based video games and surf music have a lot in common, having to impart feeling without the aid of vocals and having to do so with a very limited set of sounds available. Going even further than that, surf often tries to evoke a sense of danger and adventure, which is very familiar territory for video games. The themes that stand out in video games stand out because they're great: you're usually going to hear them on a loop, often for hours, so if you still like them after you've completed the game then that's a feat.

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Glasgow TIki Shakers - Blue Transporter and Happy Halloween

Glasgow Tiki Shakers - Happy Halloween

The Glasgow TIki Shakers have a unique sound that’s hard to pin down. They’ve never been about noise, power, cavernous reverb. They’ve got this staccato jumpy groove to them, feels relaxed and uneasy often at the same time. More tiki spirit than a lot of surf bands to don a hawaiian shirt, but way too surf to be even close to exotica. Honestly, I think I’m failing to describe it, but suffice it to say that even as they change forms from one song to next, it still feels in line with their personality as a group.

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Frankie and the Pool Boys release Spin the Bottle

Frankie and the Pool Boys - Spin the Bottle

Frankie and the Pool Boys are still allowed to be a called a supergroup (because they’re super!), but I think they’re done being a side project. For one, they’re a band now -- a core group of members playing on every song instead of a hodgepodge gang of guest artists. And at three LPs they’re starting to rival or exceed the output of some of the bands their members were known for.

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Blackball Bandits release The Lost Mission

Blackball Bandits - The Lost Mission

It’s been great watching Blackball Bandits find their way from a couple of bandcamp so-called-demos to a proud members of the Double Crown roster (and featured on the soundtrack to a ). They’ve done a great job of retrofitting retro surf feel and attitude to more modern surf song structures.

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Blackball Bandits release Confrontations on the Extraterrestrial Highway

Blackball Bandits - Confrontations on the Extraterrestrial Highway

Blackball Bandits have previously released two demos that I had were . They had a decent reason though: they were incomplete, with parts overdubbed or drum machines used. Well now they're a full band and have rerecorded their songs onto this EP.

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BEER/Tommy Valentine release BEER plus Tommy Valentine: 5 Love Songs

BEER/Tommy Valentine release BEER plus Tommy Valentine: 5 Love Songs

So as instro fans we're only really interested in the first 6 tracks of this by BEER, all of whose songs are dedicated to different beers. This belongs a bit in the avant-garde/jazz-surf category that's been slowly picking up steam lately, with plenty of saxophone and some dissonant tones amidst more freeform song structure than we get from most surf. It's pretty overtly rooted in surf though, even riffing on "Surf Rider" in their song "Bohemia". This style isn't for everybody, but I think it's a pretty fun take.

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Tikiyaki 5-0 release Introducing the Exotic Sounds of Tikiyaki 5-0 EP

Introducing the Exotic Sounds of Tikiyaki 5-0

Tikiyaki 5-0 are a smaller, more portable and guitar-focused version of The Tikiyaki Orchestra. While Tikiyaki Orchestra had no problem finding fans in the surf crowd, this is more surf than exotica, even when they're covering Arthur Lyman's "Taboo", which manages to finish with a rousing crescendo -- definitely a favorite on this EP. That said, "Song of Delilah" and Les Baxter's "Enchanted Sea" keep a bit more of an exotica mood. For the surf nuts, there's a cover of Zorba and the Greeks' "Shockwave" and a killer original "Supernova" that is 100% pedal-to-the-metal surf.

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