I’ve been looking forward to this album for a good while now, especially since I saw the artwork way back at SG101 last year. Though the album cover evokes a bit more narrative and intrigue than anything they’ve had previously, it wasn’t the draw of something new that attracted me – it was the promise of what The Volcanics always provide.
What I like about The Volcanics is that despite sounding as a trad group should, their dogma to the genre isn’t placed in a sound but in the feeling. Album after album, song after song, The Volcanics capture the excitement and danger of that teenage spirit imbued in 1960’s surf music. This album is not a departure, but it does have ideas. “The Creature” abandons surfbeat for a stumbling snare march, accompanied with monster guitar moans and smart intuitions about when to change pace. “El Dorado” throws in a moment of acoustic guitar as a warning for the galloping drum beat that can only mean Spaghetti Western, though I really like where they go with the chorus, again changing the drum beat to something not quite attached to any subgenre trope. “Witching Hour” goes monster movie again, though I think it’s a bit more by-the-numbers for that sort of thing.
While the see-saw between sweet and nasty is one of the things I like most about this band, their mean side is often how I unconsciously judge these albums. And they don’t disappoint. The opener “Sunset Run” starts with two warning plucks before slamming in. There’s a brief moment of Dick Dale influence showing through too. “Panic Run” is absolute classic Volcanics, swinging punches with muscular guitar tones, then switching back to a high-pitched panic, even taking a moment to build and reveal the big swell. “Big Bossman” stars off with a tone that reminds me of times of material from The Madeira’s “Ancient Winds” and tops off with an oh-so-satisfying “Hey! Hey!” exclamation point.
"Revel Rally” is a great example of their sweeter side Volcanics, still keeping plenty of volume on-hand and a fast pace, but opting to twinkle more than growl. This is the sort of stuff that I feel like the world wants from surf music, music for light-hearted excitement, go-karting and stuff, and I’m A-OK with that. “Quickdraw” is a similar, though a little more extreme – the sweeter bits a little more saccharine, the snarls snarlier.
It’s a blast, y’all. In my opinion The Volcanics are about as solid of a surf group as they come and this proves it once again. Absolutely get it. If this is your first album of theirs, buy the rest of them too.
Joint release between Double Crown and Hi-Tide on CD. It officially comes out on Friday so maybe there will be a digital release then, but at the moment I don't think there is one.