GREMMY AWARDS 2023: Guest Gremmys!

Guest Gremmys

The worst thing about the Gremmys is how much weight it puts on my opinions. I may have listened to a lot, but my tastes are as fickle as anybody else's, and even as I write them I know I'm leaving off specific records that others really enjoyed. So why not bring in some friends to provide some different perpsectives? Here are some picks from cool people who I know listened to a lot and whose opinions I respect.

I give them each full reign as to how they want to lay them out. I want to thank everybody that sent these in this year. It's really great to see this stuff, as sometimes I feel like I have no idea what other people are thinking about new surf music. This helps shine a light.

DJ Dotty

Dorthy "DJ Dotty" Treasure has an excellent podcast called

Where did 2023 go? Gone in a flash and I’m still processing all the great music gifted to us all by so many great bands. The perpetual feeling of being a humanoid moth drawn to the pulsating light when it comes to new music is a daily thing in my abode, and 2023 was a continual stream of bright captivating lights.

As I state every year that Hunter graciously allows me to share some of my faves with you, this is by NO means the comprehensive list of everything most loved, these are just a FEW that I sat with and listened to, transfixed. I don’t operate heavy machinery when I’m listening to new music, for your safety and mine (seriously!). No long elaborations on why these are amazing, buy and listen to them yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Full Length Faves

Satan’s Pilgrims – Thomas Lauderdale Meets The Pilgrims
Truly, a brilliant coupling. If you ever thought 88 keys and surf could never amalgamate…think again.

The Bomboras - Songs From Beyond
I don’t KNOW what good deed we all did in this lifetime to deserve this album, but Hi-Five everyone! Ripping from start to finish.

The Doltones – Sound Recycle Machine
I sat with this album for a long time. We talked, held hands, we’re dating. There’s no cut I dislike, everything about it makes me want to run away on a wild stallion and live in debauchery and untamed abandon.

Los Grainders – Surf Beat ‘23
There’s still true reverb pulsating thru the veins of the youth in this world. Some bands carry the torch so well. Well, this band does. Tell the naysaying, cane waving, “Get Off My Lawn”, folks who complain of the lack of good reverb, about this album, and then fall in love with it like me.

The Desolate Coast – Without a Planet
This album equally soothes the soul and pulls one to the depths of desperation, in a good way. It’s liquid. The cadenza of silent poetry that hides in your inner depths, framed within the beat in each bar, paired to the cadence of your heart.

The Lords of Atlantis – S/T
Cream of the crop. It really doesn’t get much better than this!

EP’s: Short But Sweet!

Draculina – S/T
Top-notch musicians accurately capturing the audible caresses of sensuality. A must have.

The Del Roswells – Death From Above
A true gem. Be excited about this release AND what they produce in the future.

The Scimitars – Damascus Steel b/w Bari Simone
We absolutely need a full-length from them. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see them live, you know how this release is true to their sound. Masterful.

And Lastly: Compilations

Surfin’ The Great Lakes: Kay Bank Studio Surf Sides of the 1960’s
Love, love LOVE that the fine folks at Sundazed Music always unearth long forgotten/lost treasures to share with us! This compilation of a few of the cuts from their Key Bank Studios acquisition is absolute tops!

Mark Malibu

Musician, Radio host, Cat Fancier. Dude does a lot. I'd like to say that he knows full well that he doesn't need to stick to my ridiculous Gremmy categories.

You know a music genre is thriving when legacy bands start to reunite and release new music. Having said that, some new bands are kicking heaps of sand in a few faces…. because this years releases were really high quality and varied. I try to only pick one favourite per category when I do these reviews,… but this year I felt I wasn’t doing the categories justice so… here it goes.

Best Traditional Surf LP (I had to choose three !)

Still Making Waves by The Atlantics

Sixty years on, this revamped band is still making excellent music. Staying true to their original atmospheric multi-head tape delay/reverberated guitar sounds, this LP has 16 perfect songs. Martin Cilia and the OG Atlantics prove their mastery of making strong melodic music.  My favs are “Bass Strait” and “Down To The Sea“

GRIND A GO GO, Volume 2 by The Fuzillis

Rock’n Roll BABY ! Their sound is closer to pre Surf guitar/sax rock’n roll instrumentals of days gone by and I love it. There’s a couple vocals too. Perfect party music. I bought Volume 1 & 2 this year and they spun on my player for weeks. Killers tracks like “Hot Nuts” and “Tiki Max”.

Mormodrama by Fuzzy Loom.

Who the HECK is Fuzzy Loom !?!?  What a great LP yet only 7 followers on Facebook and hidden away in Stockholm, Sweden. Go and check out their Bandcamp… BUY IT !!!!  Top tracks for me are “Comets Fall For The Last Time” and “Surf Serenade”…. Don’t slip past “Summer Ride”

Best Modern Surf LP

The Bomboras – Songs From Beyond

Speaking of legacy bands, this new LP has 11 killers track with blistering guitar trading off with … well … blistering organ. These high energy performances captured perfectly and mixed to perfection. It was even released on my birthday "Feliz Cinco de Mayo!”

Cocktails for One by William J. Le Petomane

This LP caught my attention as its a perfect cross section of surf, tiki and exotica… if that makes any sense. Those audiences tend to cross pollinate at various events, I could see this release getting snapped up fast $$$.  Great variety in the organ sounds as one might imagine from 1 person in his studio.

Special mention to “The fourth drive by Supertubos!” and “The Wave Files by Guitarmy of One”

Best "Rad" Surf Record

The Atom Jacks - 100 Seconds

Nuclear Powered is a great description. If these tracks don’t split your uranium atoms, nothing will. If the MODs ever re-challenge the Rockers in Brighton, get this band in to send them all running. Love the lead guitar sound on these tracks, especially “The Man From LOX” and “Seb Tropicana Atom Dance”

From The Jaws Of Hell by The Terrorsurfs

This band is getting heavier from their first release in 2016. These new songs get powerful like “Terrorsurfer” or go completely mental like “Sax Fiend” but maintain their focus on melodies as on “Raildrag “

Best Horror Instrumental

The Satanic Surf Sounds of by El Capitan & the Reluctant Sadists

Landing somewhere between horror surf and modern surf, this LP is so easy to listen to with the varied tempos, arrangements and sound scapes. A very traditional sounding surf guitar complimented by swirling 60’s organ and rapid fire drums. Also a very well sequenced album as it takes you on a sonic journey. My fav tracks would be “Séance of the Damned” and “Black Magic Surrounds You” .  They’re from Atlanta, Georgia so I certainly hope they’ve played at Dragon Con.

Best EP

Paniolo by Desert Undertones

This was not an easy category this year as there were so many excellent EPs however “Paniolo” by Desert Undertones is spectacular. We’ll crafted songs with surfy yet rootsy 60’s guitar tones. The lead off song, Algodones is one of the best songs of the year.

The runners up would be the exotic “Night Stripper by Messer Chups” and the Rockabill-esque 4 song debut “Interstellar Riders by the Interstellar Riders”.

Best Cover Surf song

The Routes - Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)

The Routes got me last year by reimagining Kraftwerk’s catalogue.   This year they’ve done it again with a great tribute to my second favourite band, the Buzzcocks. Pete Shelly and Steve Diggle wrote great pop songs with very simple guitar parts that really lend themselves to surf renditions. “Ever Fallen in Love” was probably their best song, if you had to commit to just one.  “Fast Cars” was practically an instrumental in the first place so check out this ripping version.

Best Christmas Surf song

The Surfers - Dzień jeden w roku

The Surfers are from the surfing hotspot, Gdańsk, Poland on the Baltic Sea. I love them already. All their recordings Ive heard are about as traditional as they come so Im expecting HUGE things from these guys. Their songs translates to “One day a year”. Full of Christmas spirit, strong melody and should be on everyones playlist every Yuletide. You can find it on TWANG X​-​MAS PARTY by Sharawaji Records.

Best Re-issue

The Ghastly Ones - Target Draculon

Second year in a row for me choosing the Ghastly Ones re-issues. Missing Fink and Dave Klein remixed, remastered and reordered 14 of 19 tracks from the original CD from 2006 that became so hard to find. It’s the first time on vinyl - purple, green and mystery colours.  Everyone NEEDS this release!

Best Album Cover Art

The Bomboras – Songs From Beyond

This killer album artwork by painter, designer and illustrator SHAG (Josh Angle). His artwork is instantly recognizable and often copied.  If you have friends into Tiki and Exotica, they’ll have his work on the wall.  Skeletons, Aliens, Lazer guns, Spaceships. How great would this print look on your wall?

Best Surf Music Video

El Vampiro Robot - Los Tiki Phantoms

This band kicks so much butt sonically … plus they make very high end videos. The Tim 'Burtonesque' video for “Papa Soy Una Zombi” that came out 8 years ago is one of the best music videos ever from any genre. This new video has masked wrestlers doing what they do best … Vampires doing what they do best … and Lasers going what they do best !  Well shot, well edited and great performance from the band to boot.

Sean Berry

Sean runs the amazing Double Crown records and compiles The Continental surf fanzine.

The Babalooneys - Winternationals / False Start 7" (Hi-Tide)

Excuse me while I wipe my brow and put my eyeballs back in their sockets - this two song 7” is SURF ROCK. Yes, it sounds like it could have come from the 60’s and doesn’t take the sound in new, modern directions, but that is exactly why I dig it so much. Chugging Astronauts-style rhythm guitars, twangy lead guitars battling with saxophones, snappy traditional surf beats and spot-on production. This is truly one of the few releases that I’ve been tempted to break my traditional 1-5 star rating and give it 6 stars - it’s simply the sound that got me excited about surf rock back in the mid-90’s and still excites me today. In the end, I have to take my initial 6-star rating and bring it down to 5-stars because with just two songs clocking in at 2:06 and 2:15 it ends way too quickly! ()

The Dangermen - Tranquille Shore CD (Gas Records)

Incredibly it’s been 12 years since the last release by this Helsinki, Finland based instrumental rock band. Their debut CD, Meet The Men Of Danger, is an incredible disc but this one - wow, it absolutely crushes it! The five member band recorded this album over a 3 year period, from 2016-2019, and it was produced by Janne Haavisto, former member of the legendary Laika & The Cosmonauts. While the band’s sound is based on that cool, twangy, echoey Finland instrumental guitar sound, you’ll hear lots of other influences as well, including surf, Merseybeat, spaghetti-western and Eleki. Lead guitars, rhythm guitars, slide guitars and wonderful rhythms from their bassist and drummer - it is a pure, sweet and powerful sound that just knocked me out. There have been some fine, fine releases in 2023 so far, but wow, this has definitely been one of my absolute faves while working on this issue. Most of the album is covers, but thankfully they are somewhat obscure tunes, for the most part. When they’ve chosen songs that are a bit more famous, such as “A Fistful Of Dollars”, “Ginza Lights” and “Ferry Across The Mersey”, they’ve made them their own, and to some perhaps even exceeded the original versions. There are three original songs, including the outstanding title cut, which all hold their own although for some reason the band has placed them at the very end of the CD. Top-notch cover art and it’s a rare jewel case CD release! Hopefully it doesn’t take another 12 years for another album from The Dangermen, although if that ends up being the case, I’ll be more than happy listening to this disc over and over while I wait for the next one! ()

The Frigidaires - Play It Cool LP / CD (Otitis Media)

This surf “supergroup” features the talents of Chad Shivers (The Mystery Men? and The Silent Knights), Nick Bazemore, Brad Mattocks, Matt Steadman, Sean Zearfoss and guest musician Ted Pilgrim (Satan’s Pilgrims). On this, their debut album, they deliver traditional surf instrumentals that show off the band’s songwriting skills and penchant for creating beautiful melodies, while adding in a bit of modern guitar crunch here and there. They sprinkle in a few surf vocal tunes as well, which while firmly rooted in the California surf/vocal sounds of the early 60’s, they also have a modern almost indie sound to them. At times I was almost reminded of one of my favorite NW bands from the 90’s, The Posies, who also displayed some great harmony vocals on their songs. All of the songs are originals written by the band, except a few which were co-written by Tim Moritz (The Manakooras) and Jet Powers. To top it off, the album has been expertly mastered by Dave Klein (The Bomboras and The Ghastly Ones), and the cover art is courtesy of Scott Suguichi. It’s rare these days to see a surf group record and release an album that contains instrumental and vocal tunes inspired by bands like The Hondells, The Rivieras, and all of the Gary Usher studio bands, so this band and album are a pleasant new arrival to the surf rock world and I’ll be stoked to see where they go from here. It’s released on CD, and Otitis Media will have a wide range of color vinyl options available as well. ()

The Krontjong Devils - Tocan Surf Super Seco 7" EP (Ghost Highway) (Reviewed by Ferenc Dobronyi of Pollo Del Mar)

The long running Krontjong Devils release a tight and fun four song vinyl EP, showing a wide range of styles. They have always had an aggressive disregard for rules, and at this point, need only to live up to their own level of excellence. "Boots" is face slapping fuzz grind from the get go, over a simple I-IV-V progression. With honky tonk piano and tambourine pushing the 16th notes mixed up front, this is a primal, strip club grinder. "Wilde Ganzen" changes gears completely to spacey, not quite Jokers era Joe Meek, with tone wheel organ pads throughout. "Zorongo Gitano" has a crunchy-crunchy rhythm with syncopations that recall the North African rhythms and harmonic movements of the Treble Spankers. "Winnetou" is spicy and sultry slow tango. Lots of intense variety in these four songs, that show many different sides . Get this vinyl soon, it's already sold out on their website. ()

Perry Dear & The Deerstalkers - Oh Dear! LP (Soundflat)

Oh Dear! is the follow-up album to their spectacular 2020 debut Six-String Holiday, and it is just as outstanding - blending the best of Merseybeat and The Shadows into their mid-60’s influenced sound. They have a near equal mix of vocals and instrumentals on the album and they generally alternate, which I think is really cool and is really the only way to do it in my opinion. Comparisons are inevitable since their sound is rooted in a very specific period of time, and obviously influenced by bands of that era, but overall if you imagine The Kaisers with a slightly smoother and more melodic sound, performing more instrumentals, then that’s kind of what Perry Dear & The Deerstalkers sound like. However, while written reviews kinda hafta include comparisons to other bands, it’s kind of unfair since I genuinely find this band to be in many ways superior to the Kaisers and other bands of their ilk. I can hear a depth of knowledge for the early 60’s sound, and it shows as it truly sounds like vintage instruments and production equipment were used on this album. At times it sounds like the truly incredible idea of Joe Meek producing the Beatles on their first few albums. Among the covers on here are “Little Baby” by The Blue Rondos, whose recording was produced by Joe Meek, but the Perry Dear version takes this great song and makes it so much better with improved performances, singing and production. There are also covers of “Our Man Flint” and “Harlem Nocturne” as well as a bunch of well-crafted originals. We’re only a quarter of the way into 2023 (as I write this) and this is bound to be one of my top albums of the year!()

The Scimitars - Damascus Steel / Bari Simone 7" (Hi-Tide)

Finally - the world gets to hear recorded music from this highly acclaimed So-Cal combo! They play Middle Eastern influenced surf music, with live performances that include a belly-dancer and mesmerizing melodies that put a spell over the audience. Led by guitarist Ran Mosessco, known for his work with The Astroglides and The Sand Devils, along with Jonpaul Balak (who we all know plays in about 20 different bands), the two songs on this release are a subtle teaser for what I’m sure is to come in the near future. “Damascus Steel” starts slowly, but develops a groove that allows the lead guitar to play a luscious melody. At the same time, the drums, percussion and bass deliver a hypnotic rhythm that transports you to another part of the world. “Bari Simone” is similar, but the tempo is a little faster and impresses the listener with the interplay between the bass and guitar. Overall the perfect introduction to the band for those that haven’t been fortunate enough to catch one of their live shows. ()

Shorty’s Swingin’ Coconuts - Surf Shack Shindig LP (Hi-Tide)

After releasing the excellent Mai Tai In Hi-Fi 4-song EP last year, this So Cal combo are back with their debut full-length album. The EP was one of my favorite releases of 2022, so when I received word that this was coming out I was instantly excited. I’m happy to say this album does not disappoint - in fact, it takes everything great about the EP and expands on it. For surf / instro fans especially - while the EP had songs that had a 50’s instrumental rock and roll and exotica sound, this LP has a very strong surf influence, with several songs being pure vintage-style surf instrumentals. The most mighty of these is “Earthquake” that has a reverb drip rarely heard outside The Astronauts (vintage drip) or The Fathoms (modern drip). “Pacific Swell”, “Beach Head” and “Devil Winds” are the other straight up surf instros you’ll find. However, there is much more going on here - there’s the hot rod fueled “Super Stock Drag 500”, the beautiful, steel guitar led “Blue Rain”, and a powerful cover of “Our Man Flint”. The cover artwork for this 12” platter is pleasing as well. Led by steel guitarist and upright bassist Shorty Poole, he’s got years of experience playing with the Dave & Deke Combo, The Sprague Brothers, Big Sandy, Kim Lenz and The Hula Girls. The rest of the band also has years of experience in the So Cal music scene. Hi-Tide has scored big-time by working with this great band - I know this will be one of the records I listen to repeatedly throughout this year and beyond. ()

Chad & Cherry Shivers

Chad and Cherry do a great surf music review series on youtube, and were cool enough to do a special episode for The Gremmys. Chad also just released a great record in his new outfit The Frigidaires.

Thank you so much to my Guest Gremmy presenters! It might be my favorite category.


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