The Gremmys put a lot of weight on my fickle tastes, so I like to spread out and get input from others who have listened to a lot of new surf music to add some balance. It's always fun seeing what releases clicked with other people, and which ones people happen to agree with me about.
I gave everybody full reign over how they wanted to format it -- after all the format of the Gremmys is pretty awkward on its own. Italics are my own little intros.
Thanks to everybody that contributed this year!
Guest Gremmy Awards 2019 My Best Of in no particular order:
- Moms I’d Like To Surf “Beach Control to Major Knob”
- Los Frenéticos “Teletransportacion”
- Shigeo Naka “Nippon Eleki Beat”
- The Wave Chargers s/t
- Nuclear Juarez - surf, psych and fuzz!
- El Zeb - Dusty, Sam and a DD impersonator, killing it!
- Satan’s Pilgrims** The Way In to The Way Out- revisits the style of their fantastic Psychsploitation album
- Surfer Joe - so Japaneasy!!!
- Greasy Gills - picking’ and grinin’ - the best new band from the SF Bay Area.
- Messer Chups “Spook-o-rama”- They’ve had such a sprawling career, but this comp has the essential tracks for a solid career overview.
- Halibuts “Hangin’ Fourteen”- Everybody should know about this second wave band with killer songs and chops. “Centipede” remains one of my all time favorite surf songs.
- Jon & the Nightriders - farewell performance at Tiki Oasis, San Diego CA
- Centellas- Baja tour, MX
- Los Tiki Phantoms- Int’l surf Classic in San Jose, CA
- Les Agamemnonz - Surfer Joe Festival, Livorno Italy
- Mom’s Id Like to Surf- Surfer Joe Festival, Livorno Italy
- Bradipos IV, Kilauea’s, Surfer Joe- 3 hours ofnon-stop afternoon dance party in the Tiki Room at the Surfer Joe Diner, Livorno IT
- The KFJC Surf Battle was a blast- 14 surf bands in 3 hours- look for videos on youtube.
Best Surf Music Wedding:
Congratulations to Jonpaul and Marie- the on-stage wedding performed by Ralf Kilauea (dressed as the Pope) at Surfer Joe was over the top crazy fun!
A great movie you should see if you like rock, but has nothing to do with Surf music, at all:
And my other two favorite movies of the year:
- Ford vs Ferrari
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
“Echo in the Canyon” Jakob Dylan thinks we’d rather hear him sing 60s classics rather than hear the original artists.
**See my list from 2018- Satan’s Pilgrim’s are now 4 songs closer to another incredible compilation record. Also, see my hope for a revitalized North Sea Surf Radio. Sadly, they stopped broadcasting. It was awesome while it lasted! However, nature abhors a vacuum, so lets hope a new surf music streaming service emerges.
Allistair is a DJ in England spinning a lot of surf, but more importantly he's a voracious music consumer that has tipped me off to a few bandcamp releases I've missed.
My Top 5
The Telestones - Summer Licks/Blast Beach
For years i have often typed into Google search “Instrumental Surf Blast Beats’ in the hope of discovering such a band but have been left disappointed after finding nothing. Fucking blast beats, what’s the matter with the surf world? Well my prayers were answered, included as a bonus one sided picture disc with the Summer Licks album, the cheekily titled Blast Beach had all the fury of a hallmarks of a future grind/surf classic. Imo up there with Terrorizer’s World Downfall but with saxophone.
Didi Wray - Misiόn Tango Surf
Finally a full Didi set. Tango surf and Latin charm. One of my most played albums of the year.
The Wave Chargers - Self Titled
This album was just super tight in all aspects.
Les Robots - The Fascinating World of Les Robots
Crazy dutch robots assemble the futuristic vintage surf.
The Leonites - Age of Lotharius
Didi Wray isn’t the only tango surf album on my best of list. She may have brought the latin flavours but the Leonites bring the Eastern European accordion. An instrument so at odds with surf that i literally felt like my skull had split in two, trying to get my head around it as it just sounded so alien. Sure chicha has accordion but this wasn’t chicha. It took quite a few listens before the penny dropped and i was won over. A unique debut.
Here are my Top 5 surf albums released 2019:
Nr. 5 Japanese Television – JTV II
Nr. 4 Les Robots – The Fascinating World Of …
Nr. 3 Los Freneticos - Teletransportación
Nr. 2 Moms I’d Like To Surf – Beach Control To Major Knob
Nr. 1 The Sonoras – El Baile del Silencio
I have to confess, that this choice is influenced by live performances I saw the last years. Los Freneticos played a terrific set at the Surfer Joe Tiki Room in 2018, and Moms I’d like to Surf and especially Los Sonoras played fantastic gigs in Livorno 2019. Great bands, great musicianship and really nice people. Buy their albums, go to the concerts and enjoy …
A very special honorable mention for the best compilation goes to:
Brazilian Tsunami released by Reverb Brasil
I really love those Brazilian Comps (meanwhile I have 6 of them, 5 compiled by Reverb Brasil), fantastic collections with a great variety of different styles and exciting music. On this one there are at the whole 62 (!) tracks by different bands, most of them from Brazil. I can’t get enough of this stuff
Out of his many contributions to surf music, Chad's most prominent are probably as a guitarist in The Mystery Men? and as organizer of Southern Surf Stompfest.
- Los Freneticos “Teletransportacion”
For me, Los Freneticos offer the complete package on their latest record. Their highly skilled musicianship is surpassed only by their ability to write catchy-as-hell tunes! They’re obviously well versed on the surf of yesteryear but play music for modern times. I was fortunate to see them perform this year and after seeing well over 100 surf acts in my time, I can honestly say Los Freneticos are among the best. Heck, they even managed to make aloha shirts look cool on stage!
- The A-men “Lets Fly To Mars”
Jeremy DeHart (former Aqualads) teams up with Jesper Grud (El Ray) and Boris Fernandez (former Messer Chups) to create beautiful and somewhat exotic melodies alongside adventurous harmonies. While pushing musical boundaries, The A-men are undeniably surf and I REALLY hope this will not be their sole record. Currently, I believe Jeremy DeHart to be one of the top composers of the genre and I’m looking forward to what he has to offer in the future.
- The Volcanics “Forgotten Cove”
I pretty much love everything about these guys and their whole vibe. This is a fairly traditional offering but the tunes are just great.
- The Flying Faders “Tectonic Shifts”
The Flying Faders first record, “No Sweat”, is among my favorites of the last couple of decades. This sophomore effort pretty much picks up where the former left off although it doesn’t resonate with me quite as much as the former. The record gets better as it progresses and I may lose all credibility here with the purists, but the vocals are among my favorite tracks.
- Hershel Yatovitz “Narabeen”
This was posted on one of the Facebook surf fan pages and upon my first listen, the opening track floored me. While not strictly surf, there’s a lot of variety here (all instrumental, of course) from Chris Isaac’s longtime guitar slinger.
I've heard Kevin referred to as a surf superfan. He's always alert to new releases on bandcamp and elsewhere and spreads the word on social media.
This year I was able to attend the SG101 convention while my wife joined me on the trip for a few days of shopping...still can’t get her to pull the trigger on attending the convention but I’m working on it. Also got to meet more of my Facebook friends in person as each convention gets better and better for me.
Here are my Top 5 surf albums of 2019:
- Los Freneticos - Teletransportacion
Los Freneticos were one of the many fantastic bands I was lucky enough to see at the SG101 convention this past year. They are from Argentina and this is their third album which was released on Bandcamp one week before the convention. Fans of trad surf will love this album as well as their other two (El Sonido Que Perdura & El Playa).
- Chewbacca’s – The Return From Echo Lake
Chewbacca’s have been around for almost 20 years and were dormant on the album release front for seven years prior to this release. They hail from Spain and are heavily influenced by Man or Astro-man and are sure to please any surf revival fan. In fact, Brian Scott Teasley a.k.a. Birdstuff from Man Or Astro-man produced this album. Their previous release was a split CD with Espectroplasma (that I strongly recommend), another excellent Man or Astro-man influenced band. So I recommend you just put this album on, sit back, close your eyes and...enjoy!
- The Volcanics – Forgotten Cove
The Volcanics are a relatively new band to me, I did not start listening to them until after I saw them at my very first SG101 Convention in 2017 after which I immediately obtained all of their releases. Hailing from the good ole USA, California, this is their fourth and most surf sounding release to date...and I LOVE it! Their previous albums contained frat rock vocals mixed in with trad surf instros much in the vain of The Boss Martians early works. This album blew me away immediately from the first track and is just a wonderful listen from start to finish. It’s been in my heavy rotation since I obtained it in the summer. With fantastic, well written compositions that any surf fan will absolutely enjoy...I approve!
- The Jagaloons – Ruin The Party
Another USA band this time from the east coast in NY, The Jagaloons’ debut release clearly shows these fellas will be a force in the world of surf music for years to come. I was excited when I saw they did a cover of Man Or Astro-Man’s ‘Maximum Radiation Level’ complete with Godzilla roar but had no idea how blown away I’d be by this album. This album is full of mind blowing, reverb filled earworms that cause me to put it on reply for hours at a time. This should be in every surf music fans collection!
Note: They are currently working on a release of covers called ‘Knock You Up!’ which should be released very soon in its entirety.
...and my top surf album of 2019 is...
- Martin Cilia - Shadowman
Those of you familiar with the surf scene should know the name of Australian Martin Cilia as he was guitarist a number of years for the reunited Atlantics prior to going solo. He has a handful of solo releases in his catalog all based on trad surf covers as well as his own wonderful arrangements. This specific release is a great collection of Shadows instrumentals from the early 60’s as well as some of his own tracks newly recorded. Even the casual surf music/instrumentals fan will recognize a number of classic tracks such ‘Bombora’, ‘Rise and Fall of Fingle Bunt’, ‘Apache’, as well as a rare Beatles track George Harrison composed in the very early 60’s as a tribute to The Shadows called ‘Cry For A Shadow’. Martin also puts his own spin on a couple of other Beatles tracks: ‘This Boy’ and my favorite track on the entire release ‘Eleanor Rigby’.
North Sea Surf Radio is no longer around, so Dorthy is no longer a radio DJ, but she generally keeps up and is a frequent friendly face in surf music.
Happy New Year Surf fans! We ended the decade on a high note, kicking sand in the faces of the naysayers who claim that the surf genre is dead. Oh no, it’s not! If anything, 2019 was a happy precursor of the wondrous sounds that await us in the new decade.
I could present a list of ALL of my faves of 2019, but no one has that much time. I’m limiting my gushing to my favorite Horror Surf releases of 2019. Come to think of it, that’s what I gush most about. Wait, that sounds horrifically horrible. You know what I mean.
This is the VERY condensed list of the 2019 Horror Surf releases that YOU will gush over as well. Buy them, love them, and listen to them as much as my black little heart does.
Every October brings me the hope of new, notable Halloween inspired releases. Some years are slim, but this year brought two of the best and most needed comps to add to your collection. I do forewarn you, some of the releases I will mention below are limited in their physical form, but never fear, as they are available in the ghostly, digital format as well.
Gruesome Twosome Compilation - Double Crown Records/Hidden Volume Records.
Sean at Double Crown, in collaboration with the fine folks from Hidden Volume Records, complied the cream of the crop on this release. With 18 delightfully wicked tunes, there is something to delight every one at your Halloween Soiree. You have a bit of everything, from Fuzz, to vocals (gasp!), and some of the solid surf and instro. A few of the stand- outs are:
The Volcanics, Ghost of Ichabod Crane: I listened to this song on repeat for half a day, at least. You will too.
The Nebulas, Moon’s Haunted: My new theme song while racing my imaginary hearse, on the moon.
The Blackball Bandits The Flyin’ Pumpkin: This typifies the child-like wonder/horror of what lurks in the shadows and the night may be hiding.
For optimal listening, I suggest you turn on the album, close the curtains tight, light a few candles, and carve a jack-o lantern out of whatever squash is locally in season. Oh! And Satan’s Pilgrims is on it as well. That itself was enough for me to seal the deal and sign my soul over to this compilation.
And The Other Comp You Most Definitely Need is…
The Best Of Messer Chups - Spook-O-Rama, MuSick Recordings
When a band has been around for quite some time and has an extensive body of work, it’s hard to pick just one album to listen to. This is by far, the foremost compiled selection of the Messer Chups musica sacra and a must-have. It’s the perfect album for the seasoned Chups fan as well as the novice. 24 of their best songs, meticulously picked from their previous releases and compiled for your listening pleasure, including two brand newly recorded cuts, just to remind you how insanely amazing this trio continues to be. No detail was left overlooked, from the phenomenal and vibrantly colored artwork, to the mini poster insert and sticker. The attention to detail made me a happy camper and so did this comp. No. You can’t borrow mine. Get your own!
In the Realm of the E.P. You require…
Blackball Bandits – Tales From The Shadows, Double Crown Records
A short but very sweet E.P. , With a delightfully spooky vocal! Their arrangement of Night of The Vampires makes me smile from ear to ear, listen to Clark on the drums on this one. I love everything about this version. Those are some sleek and smooth vampires! Swingy Creepy scared away the ONLY Trick-or-Treater’s who attempted to come to my door this year. So, if you want to get in the Halloween mood and frighten the neighborhood kids with melodically ghoulish instro-joy, some mad awesome vocals, and trumpet, look no further.
Within the Confines of the 7 in., you cannot survive without…
The Delstroyers – Resurrected, Hi-Tide Recordings
The Delstroyers now hold dominion in the realms of the Seattle Horror surf Kingdom after clawing their way out of the Pacific Northwest netherworld with their 2017 release. They now fling this amazing 7 in. at us, like a ninja throwing star straight to the forehead, as they laugh diabolically, “Listen to our mind-blowing renditions of these classics and kneel in our presence!” they roar at us. Just kidding! They are really nice guys and snappy dressers, but you should have a listen to this great release.
There are many others, but this would end up being a tome. Just know, I love you all! Please keep my life spooky and keep the horror surf coming! J