This has been an interesting year for surf releases -- it’s been almost devoid of LPs from “established” surf groups, and so most of the “big” releases of 2019 would only be seen as such if you’ve been paying close attention over the last few years. I don’t think this is an indication of any sort of changing of the guard, I think it just happened to be that way, but it has provided an interesting opportunity for a lot of lesser-known groups to poke their heads up and be seen.
For the surf music world at large, we’ve seen the passing of Dick Dale this year, and we’ve had giants like Paul Johnson and Daddy-O Grande/Danny Amis facing major health risks. This is the reality of a musical style rooted in the 60’s, and we’ve lost a lot of greats in years prior, but what has been inspiring is to see how we’ve rallied around these people and tried to lend a hand.
For me personally, moreso than ever this has been a year when I didn’t feel like just a mystery guy behind a keyboard. It’s been amazing traveling to Livorno, Asbury Park, and Torrance this year, making friends and making better friends with ones I’d already met. There were even a few that came over here to New Orleans!
About the Gremmys
A Gremmy is an award for my favorite surf/instro records of 2019. There's certainly no cash prize, just a .PNG file with the band's name on it.
It's important to remember that I, Hunter, am indeed just some guy behind a keyboard. I've listened to a ton of surf music this year and each year -- more than most people -- and I do feel qualified to weigh in for that reason, but there's no science to this. It's just one guy's opinions. Every year there are going to be records that everybody loves that did nothing for me, and they'll get "snubbed". In fact, sometimes I look at old Gremmys and think "what was I thinking?" But I also think a lot of fantastic records get overlooked by most listeners due to poor marketing, and sometimes so-so records get a bit more hype than others more deserving. I try to stay as objective as a list of opinions can possibly be, and listen to the music and not the circumstance.
I also try to balance out my asshole opinions with the Guest Gremmys at the end of the process. If you'd like contribute to those, reach out to me!
Each category has one winner and as many Honorable Mentions as I feel like. A lot of great records won't make the cut. It's a difficult and amorphous decision as to what goes on these lists, but generally I like to feel like they're all on about the same level, and that I could recommend listening to an honorable mention as easily as the winner.
There's only really one big change this year: the Way-Out Instro category has been renamed Mad Instro. Because Mad rhymes with Trad and Rad.
These will turn into links as they go live. No exact timetimeable on when that will be.
- Every 2019 Surf/Instro Release I could find
- Best Album Art: Self-explanatory. Surf has its own visual aesthetic, and I like to celebrate how that's explored every year.
- Best Trad Surf Record: Bands that try to sound like the 60's.
- Best Rad Instro Record: Punk-influenced, aggressive instro music.
- Best Modern Surf Record: Surf music that has adopted more modern ideas into their sound.
- Best Mad Instro Record: Instro music that sounds much different than the rest, with only a thin tether to surf.
- Rest of the Best: Several categories that I tend to make up as I go.
- Guest Gremmys: Favorite surf/instro music from people whose opinions I value.
How About You?
What did you like this year? I don't take this poll very seriously, it tends to get kind of abused, but it's still fun to see what others feel.