Another Bandcamp Friday where 100% of your purchase benefits the band. Admittedly this one snuck up on me, so forgive me if the reviews are a little hasty, but there's a good chunk of them! Here's some releases that I think warrant your attention. In no particular order.
Messer Chups - Lost Tracks
Messer Chups have so many compilations and re-releases that admittedly when I see a new album announced I think "what now?". But oh, this one is different. As you may be aware, there are essentially two version of the Messer Chups. For the past decade and change they have been a relatively straight-ahead surf group (not without a very signature sound of course). But their earlier work was a strange plunderphonic surf hybrid full of goofy synth, theremin and retro sampling. THIS is a compilation of unreleased material from that time. While these are a little more sparse and primitive than the what they released from that era (which is to say, grab all of that stuff first), it's exciting to hear more of that sound.
Last year Los Freneticos had a bit of a world tour supporting their great record Teletransportacion, and everyone I spoke to loved their sound, performative energy, and friendliness as people. Their record preceding that one won a Gremmy award from this site. Their new 7" on Hi-Tide officially releasing today has more of that sound: friendly, easy-going, but also full and blossoming.
Los Mosquitos - Demo
Sure, it says Demo, but I can't imagine a more elaborate recording situation would get them all that much closer to where they want to sound. Mean and trashy trad surf that stomps heavy and and cuts razor sharp. It's not surf punk, it's just mean.
Rifamos - Rifamos
Desolate, slow spaghetti western guitar with plenty of acoustic strumming and moodiness. Certainly not strict surf, but I don't think anybody complains about coaxing this music under the umbrella.
Sheverb - Once Upon a Time in Bombay Beach
Sheverb is also sonically out there in the desert, but with not quite an overt soundtrack influence. There's surf in there, but there's plenty of buzzy psych with shades of Zeppelin and Kyuss, and some mariachi horns. They're carving out something pretty distinctly their own and I hope they find some love for it.
Aqualads - Castaway EP
While it feels like I've typed "Jeremy from Aqualads" a lot in the past year or two, it's been a long time since we've actually seen a release from the band. These four songs are almost agonizingly good -- the fact that it's only four feels unfair. The songs aren't just memorable, but just individual licks can tingle your spine. The lax mood might meet skeptical eyes from adrenaline junkies, but if you call yourself a surf fan you need to listen. If you'd prefer a vinyl 7" release, you can get it from Hi-Tide.
Kreeps - Tiki Surf Witches Want Blood
Kreeps released a killer horror surf record assuming the identity of the Grim County Coroners in 2016. Then in March they released a new record as the Kreeps and it had words on it. UGH. Perhaps realizing their mistake, they returned to their alter ego with two excellent horror/tiki tunes.
Potbelly MacKraken - Surf 'N' Ska
Potbelly MacKraken doesn't need to be on your surf radar -- he jumps around genres often, generally staying in a ska/reggae realm, though this isn't his first foray into surf. Many surf bands have a song or two with a two-tone beat, and some excellent records have fully committed to it (two that come to mind are by Le Grand Miercoles and Prince Fatty meets The Mutant Hi-Fi). However, they are rare, and Potbelly MacKraken has an excellent EP here that stands firmly in the middle of both. Even if it doesn't grab you immediately, at least listen to the Endless Summer theme. I don't think you've heard it like that.
Adrenaline nuts, here's something for you. Good ol' dried and loud and played fast punk-styled surf. While there's a lot on here that I like, they kick The Godfather theme into a gear I don't think I've heard (plus twisting it into the Beetlejuice theme at the end). This one is name your price too! Give them some money.
The Creature Preachers - Horror Hymns Vol. 1
This debut EP is just the right kind of scummy. It sounds live, but the reverberations of the room amplify the sharpest, meanest, howling tones while not washing out a sinister crunch. Halloween isn't that far off, and it's a nice and scary year for some horror surf.
Les Robots - The Sound Of The Middle East 7"
The best Joe Meek imitators I've ever heard don't always feel like they need to shove clavioline in your face and be Tornados rip-offs. They manage to explore plenty of other sounds, here with a more oriental styling (a term that I use only because it mimics the fantasized sound more than any specific cultural sound that I recognize). It's fresh and different, and more importantly fun.
Ultimate Summer Hits 2020
You're a surf fan, it's OK to be a little old-school and need to sample your music via compilations rather than Spotify playlists and poorly written blogs tied to radio shows. Here's a pay-what-you want 19 band compilation of lesser-known surf bands for you to peruse.
The Spiratones - Sunworshipper
There's an awful lot of EPs in this list, but if you want to sink into a good LP, the Spiratones' (pronounced Spy-ratones!) first LP has some nice depth too it. Modern surf that doesn't stray too far from traditional sounds. Proud to strut in the sunlight, but sometimes slipping into more withdrawn, cerebral territory.
Donald and the Tremendous Shit Surfers - Presidential Droppings
Since I just used the word "cerebral", here's an album of surf music with gloomy tones spamming Donald Trump quotes throughout. It's something.
The Surf Mist - 13th Wave
The Surf Mist have been moving at a pretty steady one-EP-each-year pace, expanding their library of solid surf music. Each of these EPs has a good hip-shaker that somehow elevates a straight-ahead surfbeat into something irresistable. But when they switch gears the tones are lush and inviting.
Japanese Television - EP 3
Are Japanese Television a surf group with heavy post-punk influences or the other way around? Probably the latter. I beg of you, please do not report this infraction to the surf high council.
The Almighty Devildogs - The Hound Dogs Uprising
This band was just recently in one of these round-ups for their July release of Man or Astro-Man covers. This one is their own material though. Raw and nasty with a heavy punk influence, flexing plenty of muscle.