Bandcamp Juneteenth Roundup

The next Bandcamp Friday is in August and I've come to rely on these to push myself to do quick reviews of recently released surf music. In the meantime,  by donating their share to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a worthy cause for trying to buy more music on that day.

It may seem a little strange to give you a list of predominantly white musicians to support on that day, but that's kind of the reality of this genre. I don't think there's anything holding this genre back from being more racially inclusive, and if you're a black person struggling with this aspect of surf music I'd love to hear your perspective.

Before I get started, I have written four longform reviews of things released recently that would absolutley otherwise be in this list.

In no order in particular....

Halibears - Helsinki Twist

I really enjoyed Hailbears' last LP and Helsinki Twister serves up more of the same. Its funky and quirky, with upbeat keys and guitar that remind me of Laika and the Cosmonauts. I tried not to make the comparison as it seems so obvious considering they're Finnish, but it's also not a comparison I'd annoint on just anybody.

Pelomono Danza De La Cobra

Slinky, crude and dangerous. This band's LP Gibraltar was great, and this confirms that they know what they're doing.

Trio Koko - Taruko II

I've enjoyed the tight musicianship and ways that this trio have managed to sound like more than their limited manpower suggests. Great variety, great sound, great everything here.

Skoteenas - Tunes for Twangoloids

Wouldn't want to fight 'em. Muscular, tattooed guitar that bounces, weaves, shakes and spits.

The Atom Jacks - 100 Seconds

Great Astro-influenced surf that perhaps takes some notes from the giganto sound of Arno de Cea. This music is about intensity and power, and you'll find plenty of it here.

Boom Pam - Royal

Boom Pam have been at it for over two decades now and their strange breed of instrumental hasn't gotten as much recognition as they deserve from the surf community. Perhaps because it's hard to recognize it as surf, especially when your bassist is actually a tuba-ist. Royal is perhaps a little more elemental than their previous work, and as a result I think their more straight-ahead and surf-ish ones are actually the highlight here, like "Daber Yafe" and  "Monsour".

Unkle Kook - Comin' in Bunches

This was intentionally put after Boom Pam, and in fact they both do a version of Cicek Dagi. Unkle Kook like to mix it up, sometimes in a more literal sense, taking recognizable surf tunes and meandering into the beyond. Great sax playing too!

The Scimitars - Damascus Steel / Bari Simone

The Scimitars put on a fantastic show at Surfguitar101 Convention last year, and it's great to see some new recordings on Hi-Tide from them. Dark, dangerous and alluring middle-eastern influenced surf with plenty of saz. It's an instrument!

Magnatech - An Evening with Magnatech

Out of curiosity I went back to listen to the first Magnatech releases in 2020, and it's pretty impressive to see how this solo project of John Verhoef has slingshotted into what it is now. This is perhaps his sloshiest surf sound, stuff you can drown in. Good kind of drown. Great songs with plenty of attention to the tone of every aspect.

The Biarritz Boys - Inside Clean Waves

the Biarritz Boys popped into the scene with a fantastic debut LP in 2012 and then... released absolutely nothing until now. Their comeback remains true: modern-traditional surf with tenacity and grit.

The Babalooneys - Winternationals / False Start

We've got a heat index in the 110's here, so just seeing the word "Winter" evokes strong feelings, but the music thankfully wipes those away. Fantastic tradtional surf sound with great drip and sax that could pass for vintage. And perfectly summer appropriate.

El Capitan and the Reluctant Sadists - The Satanic Surf Sounds of

I have an LP by El Capitan and the Band With No Name that's pretty great, and though I believe this is a different lineup, it still delivered along those lines. There's a bit of a horror edge here with organ, spooky sound clips and a darker sound, but it's still 90% a surf record -- not much punk or metal going on here. Good fast-paced and fun stuff.

King Pelican - Volume Two

Loved their 2020 EP "East Meets West", and this keeps a lot of that up, particularly the Western part. Very melodic sound with a strong feel-good vibe and atmosphere. Warm, but not sweaty!

Pozor Vlak - 3 Surfin Guitar Instrumentals

I did NOT think these guys were still around -- I'm not sure they released anything in the past decade. But all three of these are super fun, with wailin' guitar and especially infectious rhythms.

Zako - 1

Largely comprised of members from Reverberati (Combat Surf released on Double Crown a little while ago), this is a little more spacey and dark, but still surf at its core with an unstoppable momentum.

Lazer Gun Saloon - Yeti and Sasquatch

Two tracks, both of them great. Lo-fi enough to make a great wall of sound without sounding crude, plenty of speed and intensity. Both songs are excellent.

The Abyssal Lurkers - The Kraken Wakes

Less than a year ago The Abyssal Lurkers sheepishly posted on Surfguitar101 testing the waters with their debut LP. No need to be sheepish, it was good! But these two songs show that they've learned a lot from that record, with two of their best songs and production that leapfrogs ahead of what they were doing before.

Jay Poisön and the Bat People - Echoes from the Batcave

A surprising release of horror surf from a band that keeps a regular release schedule of every Halloween. All of their stuff has been good and this is not exception.

Stories from Shamehill - Wild, Wet & Wicked. Ten Years of Reverb

A Best Of compilation from a great Dutch group in advance of their appearance at Surfer Joe this year. No new material, but if it's new to you then it's a nice sampler of their stuff.

There are definitely some that I missed, be it because I ran out of time or because I haven't gotten a chance to hear them yet, but I'm afraid between newborn, father's day, and putting a show together for today, that's all the time I have. Feel free to point out anything else.


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