Bandcamp Friday means Bandcamp doesn't take a cut of what they sell, so ALMOST all of your purchase will go to the band (almost because Paypal exists). Which is to say it's a great day to stock up on music. It's also become a time for me to go back and write something about some recent releases to help guide you.
The Silicon - Woody Goes to Nice
This album comes out of the gate with two total knockout tracks. There's a fantastic space created by that guitar sound which truly brings these songs alive and sets this record apart from their previous work. This isn't really a surf sound, scarcely a drip to be heard, rather I get a modern rautalanka feel, and some of the tracks with more fancy percussion like "7 Funny Clowns" will certainly give flashbacks to Laika and the Cosmonauts. The key thing here is that this band has really figured out how to take their songs, already pretty good on their previous records, and bump them up to a level that feels like an experience. This road trip really does feel like an adventure, more than a cluster of oddball songs. If this doesn't end up somewhere in my 2021 Gremmys then we'll have a fantastic year.
Various Aritsts - Orchestra Pit's Reverberation
OK, this is an easy one. 23 Tracks of surf/instro covers of classical songs. Does that sound fun to you? It is.
Le Grand Miercoles - Erase Una Vez Un Western
I love this band. It's fun enough to mix ska with surf music, and they've never been anything less than extremely good at it. And then they wrangle two Morricone classics into that scheme. The result is two very fun songs -- and admittedly, "fun" is not really the word for Morricone's Western soundtracks and sure enough all the drama of The Master's compositions have been bled out of this, but it's novel and well done. And if you like this, don't miss their previous albums.
Various Artists - Peter Gunn EP
This doesn't really belong here, but it fits in nicely with the above. Peter Gunn done four ways: Latin, mod (the surfiest one), ska, and psychedelic. All instrumental. All amazingly well done.
Messer Chups / Aloha Swamp - Sparkling Man EP
Those that play the Bandcamp Friday game well make sure to have something availabe when that day rolls around. Messer Chups, play that game pretty well (making their magnanimous catalog even harder to navigate). Two Messer Chups, two from the Messer Chups tiki-oriented side project Aloha Swamp. Two vocal tracks, two instrumental tracks. Of those instrumental tracks, Big Noise from the Jungle is a cover and has been done on the Guitaraculas record, and Charade was on the Aloha Swamp LP. I believe the vocal tracks are new.
So while I generally like to use these posts to point out what's essential, with these Messer Chups releases I think it's helpful to have somebody tell you what isn't. If you like the vocal tracks, go for it (though $8 is a bit steep for two new tracks). If you're instrumental only, I think you can let this one go.
The Mighty Gordinis - Sounds from a Distant Galaxy
The one was a bit of a surprise. This band's LP Fueled on Fuzz is an under-the-radar classic, especially fun because I picked it up in their native Belgium! However, their most recent release was in 2007 and featured vocals on nearly every track, so I figured I didn't really need to track them anymore. 13 years later, not only they returned, but in surf form! In fact, they've gone a little more traditional and wet than where they left off. That said, there's still some organ swank to it and some gritty fuzz here and there, but most importantly they're writing these songs as well as they ever have.
The Metalunas - Interstellar Surf Party
Speaking of back from the dead, this is the first LP from the Metalunas since 2002! WHAT? This is a pretty straight-ahead surf record, less heavy than where they left off, with a fun and upbeat party vibe. Fun stuff, and cool to see this band back in action.
Doctor Calamari - Here's That Sick Squid
This invertebrate first crawled out with several singles throughout 2020, but now it's taken the form of a 6-song EP. This one took me by surprise. There's a bedroomy feel to the recording, and the guitar tone doesn't wow me and maybe I was thrown off by the running theme of their uninspired cover art, but there's an infectious spunky energy that always wins out. There are some oddball risks taken, like the piercing synth on "Haircut", that usually pay off in grabbing your attention without overdoing it. This is fun stuff, and I hope we continue to hear a steady stream of stuff from Doc. Cal.
Terreur Twist - Hotep California
A year ago this band released an EP that had me excited to see where they would go. Those three tracks are all on this record, and like any good French surf band with an edge does, they've got the Productions Impossible name attached to it. Good and mean horror surf with a bouncing bop to it, like the Ghastly Ones or the Delstroyers.
Costal Surf Club - 難忘的衝浪歌曲 no.1
Y'all, it's very hard to find Chinese surf groups. There were a bunch of great Malaysian instrumental records, but straight outta the mainland? Most of the bands I've seen are expats from English speaking countries (though they've all been pretty good!). That might even be the case here, but in any case it's actually an enjoyable surf record. It's surprisingly straightforward, if you're looking some something with a distinctly Chinese twist to it, you won't find it here. It's a little on the mellow side, but not enough to betray the genre. It's mostly on here for novelty, but it's actually a very listenable and enjoyable record.
Trieste - The Black Squall
This is pushing it a bit. This group plays heavy post-rock with a doomy mood, but you can hear some distinct moments of very obvious surf guitar sneaking in. "Shake the Devil" is where it's most obvious. I don't want to oversell it on that promise, but it's a very enjoyable record anyway. Play at house-shaking volume.
The Hang Ten Gallon Hats - Giddy Up Surfboard
If you haven't figured it out from the everything, this is a band that likes to keep their Western and Surf sounds in equal proportion. I'd say their overall guitar tone feels a little more surf, but the emotional motivation of these songs seems to stem from the Western world. Danger and campfire, not thrills and luaus. There's a lot of throught and atmospheric arrangement going on in this, and I think it's going to take a few more listens to really digest.