The Tourmaliners (named after Tourmaline Beach) are billed as a 60’s throwback band, but I suspect this like likely designated for gigs around town. For us picky surf fans, I hear a throwback to an unexpected time: 2nd wave surf! If I were to listen without context, I’d pin them right square at 1990, particularly with the reverbed drum treatment, and flavor of the reverb altogether. In fact, if you want a good frame of reference I’d point you to The Pixies’ version of “Cecilia Ann” off their 1990 album Bossanova. It’s not entirely a matter of production though: “Adios Saladita” and “Stellular” evoke Mermen and “Green Pipe” has a light ska/reggae intro. The Tourmaliners absolutely don’t tunnel-vision their sound to the surf golden age, there’s clearly a lot of other influences at play, though don’t expect Man or Astro-Man to be found anywhere inside.
If any of that sounded negative, I am absolutely not negative about this record.
While 90’s production often sounds thin and weak, this is far from the case here. These songs are punchy and loud, even on the slower more tiki-flavored songs that feature acoustic guitar like the titular track. Even for the crowd that demands only adrenaline, the opening track should set you straight immediately with its menacing bassline and thumping beat, or take “Espania” which merges Dick Dale licks with Space Cossacks muscle. The melodic sensibilities are absolutely on-point and just about every track feels alive.
I can’t go without mentioning the legacy connection here: the lead guitar is Deven Berryhill, son of The Surfaris’ Bob Berryhill. It’s rare to see surf music passed down through the family, and with this record Deven comes out looking empowered by his father’s work rather than overshadowed.
I don’t normally do reviews a few months after release, but I’d sensed some hype around this one and felt like it needed attention. It did. You can get it from their website.