I'm glad I caught this one, as the name doesn't exactly scream surf. I mean, maybe you knew that Mary Ann Hawkins was pioneering surf in the 1930s. Maybe you knew about their two previous EPs (one on 8" vinyl apparently?). I didn't. But there is a surfboard on the cover.
Surf seems to be on an upswing in Finland. Obviously they have a rich heritage given that they have an entire sub-genre of instrumental groups called rautalanka, but recent (as in past two years!) releases from Pekka Laine, Halibears, Shubie Brothers, and Void Surfers have been outstanding listens -- and often impeccably engineered as well. Some of these groups, of course, are comprised of long-standing characters in surf/instro/rautalanka, but whatever the case may be Finland is on fire right now.
Mary Ann Hawkins may not be entirely traditional, but they are unmistakably a surf band -- keeping a constant driving momentum, surf guitar tones with a very healthy amount of reverb, sax, and a surfbeat on drums. I'd say that they're more directly a surf band than any of the aforementioned Finnish groups. However, there are things about them that are hard to pin down that push them into more of a modern powersurf category -- little flashes of riffs and moods generally absent from 60's without feeling out of place.
The production is notably excellent and ear-grabbing. It's got plenty of hi-fi boom to it and a reverb on nearly everything that makes it sound gigantic, while the guitars sound lo-fi enough to sound raw. The overall sound is somewhere between Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake and The Beach Combers, but the trashy heroic (if those words even belong together) sound remind me of Bande de los Apaches.
Though they don't explicitly wear much punk influence, there is no shortage of grit and aggression. It rips right out of the gate with tracks like "Viikinsaari Surf" and "Snake Planet" and the needle doesn't drop too far from there. The more subdued songs like "Summer Night" or "Salpimienta" barely qualify for that description, still carrying plenty of might and barely slowing down. This also extends to the Spaghetti Western tracks which lean heavily into bravado and very little into sounding desolate.
This is a whirwind of a record and in my opinion a can't-miss. I'm glad I didn't, despite the name
Download from bandcamp, CD and vinyl through Svart records.