Gremmy Awards 2021: Guest Gremmys

Guest Gremmys

The Gremmy Awards hinge pretty heavily on my own inexplicable tastes and biases, which is why I like to call for backup and ask for opinions from people who I know absorb a LOT of new surf material. I give them carte blanche as to how they'd like to present it, and most of my "editing" here is just formatting to fit the site better.

I want to make this known: this is publishing in April solely because of me -- these wonderful people submitted these months ago and I've just been such a disorganized mess that I'm getting around to compiling them now.

MARK MALIBU

Mark fronts Mark Malibu & the Wasagas and makes a surf radio show called He also put together the great compilation this year. I love that he used my categories!

2021 could have been a momentum killer for most bands….but Surf bands are like Zombies; the faster they move, the harder they are to kill… so we got heaps of new music.

Best Traditional Surf LP

The Cursed Island by Blackball Bandits

This LP has it all, great writing, recording and arranging… and for a Trad LP it never gets boring as the varied sounds, instrumentation and dynamics take you on a musical journey. The song The Wolves and the Fireflies falls into the category .. "Gee I wish I wrote that song !” A MUST BUY LP for sure!!! …. serious runners up would be Surf Zombies - In Color and  The Routes - Instrumentals II.

Best Modern Surf LP

Arno de Cea & the Clockwork Wizards - Retrofuturisme Vol. 2

Intense, hard hitting, progressive, noisy, operatic, science fiction sonic journeys. This LP could easily cross over to fans of both Metal and Prog rock. I’d love to see this band live. ALSO, Incredible cover artwork by Flo Impure.

Best "Rad" Surf Record

The Underwater Bosses - The Night Divides the Ride

This LP could potentially be considered a traditional in sound however the beats are heavier and a bit more post-punk .. as well the guitar cuts like a steak knife but never sounds like heavy metal… phew! The songs are impeccably recorded and arranged. I think if I played this CD in my truck I’d be getting a lot of speeding tickets. I think if I played this CD at the dinner table I’d bite my finger!

Best Horror Instrumental

The Wet Ones - The Monster of Jungle Island

Movies and music sometimes go together very well...  this band produced, filmed, edited, scored, and directed the 14 minute no-budget horror film in 2020 and released the sountrack January 1, 2021. Right up my alley!!  The monster in the film is very close to the beast in 1964 classic, "Horror of Party Beach". Who doesn’t love weird atomic beasts that live off human blood… and play surf guitar… yes the monster eventually plays the guitar very well!!!

Best EP

The Bomboras - The Return of the Up Up Sound

What else can be said about the Bomboras other than welcome back and thanks for 4 new AWESOME songs in a cool gatefold jacket on beautiful Red and White splatter vinyl. It’s got Fuzz, it’s got Farfisa all on a pounding beat! Party at Gregg’s is the standout song for me.

Best Cover Surf song

Don't Ask Me Love · Les Robots

WOWzers…… les Robots reimagine Uruguay’s Los Shakers 1965 hit Don't Ask Me Love … a haunting love song. They were the best of all the British Invasion influenced bands out of Latin America. Les Robots new LP "12 "Favorites From Planet Earth” has many reworked songs of the 60’s, specifically from the Hollies, Kinks, Zakary Thaks and many more …  BUY the LP... I did!!!

Best Christmas Surf song

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Joel Paterson

Second year in a row I was up to my eyeballs with Christmas music this year with my cat sanctuary fund raiser. This recording really captures the sound and craft of those 50’s recordings and jazzy guitar styles. For those that dig Les Paul and Chet Atkins. If you added some record crackle, you’d swear it was a vintage rendition. Super well done.

Best Re-issue

Bug Music For Bug People by Atomic Mosquitos

Thankfully a lot of "out of print” surf releases from the 90s and early 2000s are getting re-issued for all the new surf fans out there. Everyone knows I love the Atomic Mosquitos and this lime green release hasn’t left my turntable. I can hardly wait for their just announced re-release of “Meltdown".

Best Album Cover Art

The Tremolo Beer Gut - You Can't Handle...

Any band that uses the same photograph for 7 albums, multiple singles over 20+ years deserves an award. We live in an age where a photo is worth a thousand streams, spectacle reigns over substance. However Tremolo Beer Gut let their music do the talking… and it’s AWESOME music.

Best Surf Music Video

The Green Reflectors - Cat Burglar Cut Up

The animation is by long time friend of the band, Benjamin S. Hebb!  Hand drawn with magic marker on white paper, cut out like South Park. Stop motion mixed with some digital effects. Simple but labour intensive.


DJ DOTTY

Since last featured in the Guest Gremmys, Dotty's show has moved from Soundcloud to GTF Instrumental!

2021 proved to be a GREAT year in the surf and instro realm. While most of us avid concert and music show goers worldwide had limited access to live shows, our favorite musicians were hard at work making magic behind closed doors! Below is NOT a complete list every release I thoroughly enjoyed and loved (there were too many good releases), just a few I kept reaching out for again and again. AND are given in no specific order. 

Full Length Releases

The Chung Kings – Presents Surf-O-Tica

A healthy blend of Lo-Fi Surf, Jazz, Latin, R&B and Exotica make this album an exuberant listen that whisks you away to places far and wide. Each song is its own distinct panorama, many with danceable beats evoking swinging 60’s soirees low-key cocktail parties, even romantic island getaways. A song for every delightful mood, this has quickly become my go-to album to cook dinner to and I revel in the joy it brings me daily

 

The Hamiltones - Dracula Invitational, 1791

I am an absolute sucker for albums with themes (horror in particular) and fun concepts and this album really was the fun I needed for 2021. Imagine, if you will, if you interviewed a bunch of Dracula’s one night in a huge, dark, daunting castle, intrigued by their lives but equally fearing you’ll be their next meal. Now imagine that experience magically set to music! Great songs that follow the story in the quirky and hilarious zine included with the album. I needed a good hardy laugh and good music, this hit both those spots.

 

The Desolate Coast – Time Slips Away

A love poem to the Pacific Northwest, melodic, heartfelt, and moving.
Want to hear what the beauty of the Washington state landscape sounds like in song format? Standing on a rocky beach, feeling the cool breeze off the shore, with a lush forest behind you? How about its breathtaking mountain landscapes or the smell of rain on a summer day? THIS is what it sounds like. Well executed songs played with great finesse. If you don’t have this album yet, please do yourself a favor and get it. You’ll catch feelings for it immediately.

Les Agamemnonz- Amateurs

The most misleading album title, ever. Nothing remotely amateurish about this album or band, and another gem added to the crown of their mastery. Les Agamemnonz have opened another door into their realm, handed us our own tunics to wear, and let us in to run wild in their kingdom. Beautiful evolutionary sounds that resonate passionately. A lovely fusion of symphonic fuzz greets you and guides your untamed romp. They meld multiple genres and sounds with orchestral arrangements effortlessly, like master magicians, as if these fusions existed all along, we just missed it somehow. Even the album cover parallels the band and music therein, Les Agamemnonz, forever roaming and exploring a forest of wonderment that they luckily allow us to peek in to from time to time. This album is an experience and should be compulsory in everyone’s respective collection.
 

The Tremolo Beer Gut – You Can’t Handle The

No, we cannot handle this album it, IS simply TOO HOT to handle! Every song in this release is made of fire. TBG, purveyors of the same album cover on all their releases and composers of your sultry life soundtrack for action, adventure, seduction, barbequing, and cross stitching (ANY occasion really) have brought us another album brimming with tantalizing songs and this time, they’ve teamed up with a cadre of their mega talented musician friends from amazing bands from around the globe. This album takes us to the grittiest dark night club, the kind of place that looks like hell outside, but emits the heavenliest music, playing the kind of music your mother warned you about, ferocious and alluring. An amalgam of 60’s surf, Ye-Ye, Spaghetti Western, psyche, and soundtrack. It licks you with fuzz and reverb drenched wet dreams as you fall to debauchery with its come-hither vocals. Buy yourself a copy, buy your mom a copy as well.
 

Arno De Cea & The Clockwork Wizards – Retro Futurisme Volume II

Oh, what joy I felt when I emerged from my hermit cave to hear that Arno De Cea & The Clockwork Wizards has yet, another release and its part two to their wonderful Retro Futurisme Volume I to boot, no less! Frantic pulsations of glorious energy hit you from a fast driving 10 track release (the U.S. version of the release having one additional song!). Washing over you like a resplendent cape of glory, this is music that gives you goose bumps first and then sticks to your bones. Soft and melodically touching at moments, resoundingly loud, glorious the next. masterminded arrangements. A complexity to savor, the speed of punk, the brutality of metal, with the playing finesse of surf. Surf Brutal in its purest form.

 

The Routes Instrumentals II AND Shake Five

The Routes graced us this year with a surprise ambush of not just one but two solely insto albums to enjoy! I sincerely could not choose just one to add to my list, both are superb! Hard driving albums graced with richly melodious nostalgic garage fuzz, culminated with psychodelia, spaghetti western, and punk. Both albums are genuine and bold. You’ll feel as if you stepped back in time to the most rollicking, riot-inducing party of your life, and The Routes are the house band, driving everyone wild into a dancing frenzy. This is the music of wild abandon. Fun music for fun people.

 

Surfer Joe – World Traveler

In a year of chaos, this was the album that brought me back to the core of my hearts’ love of surf music. Another jewel by the International Surf ambassador himself! There are very few people who create music like Surfer Joe. He understands the balance of tone and reverb, the subtlety that goes behind what constitutes an authentic 60’s surf sound. He. Gets. It. EVERY cut on this album is executed with polished, skillful brilliance. delightful melodies. It can’t just be listened to once thru. This is a musical memoir, a diary of Surfer Joe’s globetrotting and touring. A love story to the joys, trails, and tribulations of travel. In a time where most of us have been unable to move freely in the world as we would like or are accustomed to, this album hands us our passports, we are navigating this blue sphere once again.

 

EP’S

Genki Genki Panic – The Munge

Disclaimer: I DON’T know what a munge is, but I DO know that THIS is the 7 inches you need to get your Halloween party in full swing AND if you are a Horror and spooky music lover like I am, this album is perfect for your everyday listening pleasure. This EP tells the tale of three monsters from the inner depths of your worst nightmares! From ominous, energetic to murky lagoon depths, to evil villain theme music (well, what will be MY evil villain song if ever I choose that route!). A perfect assemblage of songs with great cover artwork as well.

 

Messer Chups – New Wave or Surf Wave

How were we to know that we needed some sweet 80’s new “surf” wave zen to get us thru this year? We didn’t, but Messer Chups knew. Suddenly, the songs you danced to in sweaty, gloomy night clubs while sporting teased hair that reached towards the sky, wearing enough eyeliner to draw a life size rendition of Notre Dame, are transformed into entrancing echoing lullabies. Elegant and sophisticated, they’ve transmuted great 80’s and 90’s hits to become your favorite refined surf hits of today. This EP soothes the soul, and they even added an excellent danceable vocal, just in case you wanted to relive your wild clubbing days for a bit.

 

The Bomboras- The Return of the Up Up Sound

The mere rumored mention that The Bomboras might be back on the scene early last year was like a warm hug from my teenage years, a time when my back didn’t hurt, and I could remember the reason why I went into a room. The Bomboras however, set a bookmark in the pages of the past and re-emerged, promptly setting fire to said pages. They aptly shifted their sound gears, facing forward to the future with fresh vitality. Was this the same band I remembered? No. They are colossal, better than ever, with an eminent sound, still as captivating and exciting if not more so. I was so fortunate to hear this in advance of the respective release and sat dumbfounded with mouth agape, and yet months later, I still cannot get enough of this release.

 


 

ANTONIS CHINIS

Antonis is a surf superfan that always has his eye on what's coming out.
As I told you, very few releases caught my attention, ... but what releases!
The following few albums gave me the flames that warmed my heart,
body and soul and kept my faith alive for the present and the future of surf music.


LP

  1. PEKKA LAINE - The Enchanted Guitar of Pekka Laine
    If anyone tells me again that surf music do not have a soul,
    I will make him listen to this vinyl until his ears are damned.
    My absolute favorite album for 2021. A masterpiece!

  2. LES AGAMEMNONZ - Amateurs
    Another step above their fine earlier works.
    Complex and sophisticated. A dive to the past in a modern way.
    A magnificent release!

  3. TREMOLO BEER GUT-You Can’t Handle…
    A celebration of powerful surf sounds from killer waves,
    with great Guests! A superb release!

  4. YOUNG BARONS-Hella California
    So many covers?  So WHAT!!!
    This record is a piece of raw power, youthful energy,
    pure love for surf music. Brilliant!

  5. CHUNG KINGS - Presents Surf-O-Tica
    A very nice surprise from a bunch of musicians
    in Amsterdam and a very enjoyable album. Splendid!

45

B. CONFIDENTIAL & THE SECRET FOUR -  Black is the colour of my baby’s soul/Satan is her name
Bambi Molesters fans don't lose this. A real gem!

SURF’S UP!

UWE KERZINGER

Another friend with a finely-tuned surf release radar. I want to point out that Uwe sent this nearly a month before I had posted *any* Gremmy awards and his list includes almost none of my picks -- this is why I love to do this category!

  • Bamboogie Injections – Orbit Chaos
  • Chrome Castle – Forts
  • Doctor President – Doc Pres
  • El Borko – Surficana
  • Frankie & The Pool Boys – The Wet Season 2008-2021
  • Lazer Gun Saloon – Seven Weighs More
  • Los Blue Marinos – Big Mamma
  • Messer Chups – Visiting The Skeleton In The Closet
  • Superdune – Superstition Mountain
  • Wormkids – Inzen
  • The B. Christopher Band - Surfing With A Vintage Lad
  • The Belharras – Pelee
  • The Capacitors – Hang 10101010101010101010
  • The Cruncher – X (Ten)
  • The Diamondheads – Hot Sand
  • The Guantanamos – Asylum Escape
  • The Mermen – Splendeurs et Miseres
  • The Wet Ones! – The Monster Of Jungle Island

Best wishes from Cologne

Uwe


To friends that appeared in past Guest Gremmys that I did not reach out to this year, it's purely because of disorganization. If I don't reach out to you next year, feel free to reach out to me! I have not yet had a Gremmy Guest I would not invite back.

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