The Top Surf Records of the 2010s: 80-61

Top Surf Records of the 2010s: 80-61

Here are the next 20 selections from our chosen by surf fans. Admittedly, as with the vote counts weren't quite high enough to determine heirarchy easily, so my own input certainly comes into play, though things will get more clear-cut as we go. Enjoy!

No. 80

Said the Ripper - The Hanging at Barbed Wire

Snarling guitar accompanies tunes with a Spaghetti Western twang, as advertised, but also with big helping of mod influence. The result is scintillating, and their swingin' cover of Ecstasy of Gold is one of the only versions that holds a candle to Morricone's.

No. 79

The Palermo Surf Experience - Far From Famous

The Palermo Surf Experience - Far From Famous (2010)

I remember this getting high praise in The Continental zine, but it wasn't easy to find, which is a shame because this band was truly vicious. True surf sound but with a razor-sharp edge and undeniable energy. Nearly every track is a winner.

No. 78

Arno de Cea and the Clockwork Wizards - Retro Futurisme Volume I

Arno de Cea & the Clockwork Wizards spent the decade refining their sound into something bigger, larger, meaner than anything else. While that wound up far away from the traditional surf sound, for those chasing instrumental adrenaline, their 2010s output needs to be heard.

No. 77

The Centellas - Especimen Surf EP

The Centellas - Especimen Surf EP (2019)

This trio of Mexican women made a splash with their debut EP, with five toothy originals that feature some impressively quick guitar work and challenging rhythms. And then to wrap it up, they cover the theme to "Sailor Moon" as a playful affirmation of their gender within a male-dominated genre. I hope we'll hear a lot more of them in this decade.

No. 76

Trabants - FREAKOUT

Trabants are not content to solidify their sound into one thing, and Freakout has them in a psychedelic mode with plenty of fuzz, sitar-like tones, and dance-party ready beats. Each song feels thoughtfully crafted around an experiment, but not so confined to get in the way of fun.

No. 75

Reverberati - Combat Surf

The "combative" spirit behind this record is apparent from the opening title track, which pounds away at a quick clip. However, it's also quite serious about being a surf record, devoid of distortion and punk influences that are usually adopted for aggressive purposes. It crashes and stomps and amps you up -- not recommended for safe driving.

No. 74

The Aqua Barons - Southeast Stompers

The Aqua Barons play traditional surf sounds with a sense of urgency that borders on impatience. Once the endorphins back off a bit, you'll notice there's some great, even beautiful melodies here, with some great use of different tones and reverb splash.

No. 73

The Wave Chargers - The Wave Chargers

The Wave Chargers - S/T (2019)

The Wave Chargers' initial EPs were trashy, clipped and rough -- they were great! They cleaned up their sound for their LP -- and that was great too! Strong traditional surf with dramatic riffs.

No. 72

The Secret Samurai - Zanshin

The Secret Samurai - Zanshin (2011)

This is an album with a lot to say, so they say it quickly. The Secret Samurai play blazingly fast guitar lines that bend and duck and twist at a breakneck pace, telling a story instead of building raw adrenaline. It can be a lot to take in at once, but there's a great sense of mystery, drama and majesty on this record.

No. 71

Urban Surf Kings - Livorno

With several eligible USK releases available, why did their live album get voted in? While there is the fact that live records sort of function as a Greatest Hits, I think the main reason is a genuine, tangible sense of excitement and energy radiating from their performance at Surfer Joe Summer Festival. It's infectious, and makes you feel like you're there.

No. 70

Albert Gines - First Monkey in Space

Albert Ginés - The First Monkey In Space (2019)

There's a certain feel to this album. Sure, the exotica-flavored tracks have the expected cautious mystery, but there's a pervasive sense of warmth and playfulness that grabs you from the start -- and since just about every track is a winner, you'll stick around until the end too.

No. 69

The Eliminators - Room to Move

The Eliminators - Room to Move  (2010)

Great trand-minded surf music with saxophones and tones that give the feel of a great late-in-the-day luau. What surprised me is how easily a more Shadows-influenced sound managed to comfortably sneak into that vibe.

No. 68

Bevel Emboss - Celluloid

Bevel Emboss - Celluloid (2012)

Some albums take a while to sink in. Not this one. I remember where I was in my car when about three tracks into this unknown record from a no-name band I thought "I've got a hot one on my hands." Bevel Emboss' twang sometimes reminds me of The Ramblin' Ambassadors, sometimes The Madeira, but the big touchstone here is The Shadows. Tracks like "Tarantula" and "Three Nudges" are flat-out classics, and will stay in your head for hours after hearing them.

No. 67

 Tikiyaki 5-0 - Tone Control EP

 Tikiyaki 5-0 - Tone Control EP (2018)

Tikiyaki Orchestra are one of the most beloved surf-adjacent groups, and they're just as beloved when they pare down to a surf combo. As expected from members of an exotica band, they excell at mood on slower songs like "The Ipcress File" and "The Quiet Surf" but they show surf guitar grit with songs like "El Atacor!"

No. 66

Martin Cilia -Shadowman

Martin Cilia - Shadowman (2019)

This member of Australian surf music royalty was quite prolific in the 2010s with 7 releases in the decade, so it might be surprising to see a tribute album of sorts picked as his best. However, this particular one resonated with me too. Cilia's big, open sound and twang fit the Shadows classics well, and his originals done in the Shadows style are right on the mark.

No. 65

Fascinating Creatures of the Deep - Float on Forever EP

Fascinating Creatures of the Deep - Float On Forever EP (2018)

With only an EP to their name and an early spot in the Surfguitar101 Convention lineup, Fascinating Creatures of the Deep made a strong impression on a lot of people. Their songs have a strong sense of atmosphere and narrative, conveyed with impressive strength and flair.

No. 64

The Thunderchiefs - The Interstellar Sounds Of...

The Thunderchiefs - The Interstellar Sounds Of... (2010)

This record is very much a traditional surf record before it's a space record, but there's enough rumble, twinkle, and mystery for the theme to fit. A lot of great melodies on this record.

No. 63

The Surfites & Co.

The Surfites - And Co.

It's unfortunate that the Surfites didn't have much presence in this decade beyond this 2010 release, but this was a great one. A schizophrenic release, dividing the bubby surf band The Surfites into sub-bands The Excelsiors (with a euro-instro sound), The Royal Vikings (frat/party instro), and The Angry Breed (Fuzzed-out mod instro). I'd happily listen to an LP from any of these alter-egos.


The Del-Vipers - Cannibal Safari EP

The Del-Vipers snapped like a whip-crack on their Double Crown debut LP, but their more recent EP was voted more highly. It takes their relentless stomping speed-surf sound and infuses a little rum for a more adventurous jungle sound without pulling any power.

No. 61

Nahuelaizers - Profundidad Desconocida

Nahuelaizers - Profundidad Desconocida (2016)

"Relentless from the start, ambitious and not too slick. Driven. " -Mike "Malihini Mike" Castellanos.

This is surf with a pure sound and a punk-rock heart. Even when you think they've chilled out, it'll grab you and throw you into motion. Listen to songs like "La Coca" and you might notice you've been gritting your teeth.


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