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Via Combusta - s/t 7"

Via Combusta - Via Combusta

Recently the surf radio show Heads Up! with Carmen Ghia put on a monster 11-band showcase of Seattle's surf/instro groups. On that roster was a band called Via Combusta, who have been playing Seattle surf shows for a while but seem largely unknown outside their home turf (and was certainly unknown to me). This 7" was slated for a release this fall, but waddaya know, they were ready to go earlier than expected, which is seemingly never the case these days. I think they deserve a little attention.

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Los Frenéticos - Teletransportación

Los Frenéticos - Teletransportación

In 2015 Los Freneticos’ album El Sonido Que Perdura was anointed with my record of the year (man, I was playing fast and loose with the word "trad" then...). It’s a record that bursts with energy, exuberance and playfulness. Teletransportacion is the follow-up to that record, and though it keeps much of the same sound, it chooses a different style. If El Sonido Que Perdura is an action-packed Saturday afternoon in the sun, Teletransportacion is Sunday at the same spot, cold drink in hand.

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Amphibian Man - Shapes (Side A)

Amphibian Man - Shapes (Side A)

3 releases in less than a year, perhaps Amphibian Man is getting back to his previous furious pace. Though went back to slapping some reverb on that guitar, these 7 songs are about as dry and punk-sounding as they've ever been, to the point where I'd consider this instro-punk instead of instro-surf.

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Death Wave - Mare Incognitum

Death Wave - Mare Incognitum

Despite hearing their first EP, something about this led me to believe that it would be fast-n-nasty metal-tinged surf, but Mare Incognitum actually adopts a pretty normal modern surf sound at a normal pace, just dwelling a bit more on the darker side. That's no complaint though, each of these is punchy and fun, almost always danceable, and with a good sense of when to go big, when to sound a little nastier, and generally how to stay interesting and fun.

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Galactic Gold - Digital Vape

Galactic Gold - Digital Vape

I've often seen talk of drum machines in surf but it usually seems like a solution for bedroom composing and the inability to form a band. I gotta say that most of the music I've heard with them is... eh. But there are some bands that have fused surf with synth and drum machines very well, such as earlier Messer Chups and Matorralman. Galactic Gold sounds like neither and pulls it off well.

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The Flying Faders - Tectonic Shifts

The Flying Faders - Tectonic Shifts

Chad Shivers (organizer of the Southern Surf Stomp, plays in The Mystery Men?, KBK, plenty of others bands) champions The Flying Faders’ debut album No Sweat as one of the best surf albums of the past 10 years. I like it, but it never quite grabbed me enough. I couldn’t tell you why, and I can’t tell you why their new LP seems to fix whatever it was. Tectonic Shifts is a great album.

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The New Shaker Sex Addicts - We're In This Together EP

The New Shaker Sex Addicts - We're In This Together EP

The over-the-the top party feeling that you get from a band name that seemingly promises you both sex and (presumably) butt-shaking feels kind of ironically imposed when you actually listen to this album. It’s not sad or particularly listless or anything, it’s totally danceable, but there’s a sour and strange feeling to this. My first thought was a sort of vaporwave via surf, but I think something closer would be a Twin Peaks comparison. Not so much directly to Angelo Badalamenti, but the feel of the show itself.

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Maeds Dominos - Copacabana Switchblade EP

Maeds Dominos - Copacabana Switchblade EP

Let’s jump straight to what’s important here: percussion.

A lot of bands reach for that spy sound, and while some try to get there via mimicry of John Barry, the real key isn’t in what you’re twangin’ but what you’re bangin’. Maeds Dominos sometimes have the snare restricted to surbeat, but you can expect it to be joined by bongos, glockenspiel (?), tambourine… it’s extremely well done and expands the whole feeling of the songs beyond mere guitar aggression.

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