It's been forever since the last Bandcamp Friday roundup I've done and there have been a whole ton of excellent surf releases. Unfortunately this one lands in the middle of a vacation with little internet or even time availability. But I've got a bit of a window to do something here, so I'm going to highlight as many as I can before my son finishes his nap or this laundry gets done. I'm really going to try to focus on quantity of reviews over quality, though the whole point is that the music...Read more
They're a band that I had underestimated. Their previous EPs and singles were cool, but not necessarily enough to get too excited over. But Art at MuSick Records usually seems to know what he's doing, and when I saw their pre-release LP at the SG101 Convention that trust in him, combined with the record-buying
The Wave Chargers made a big impression on me with their intial handful of EPs. Raw and lo-fi traditional surf recordings. There's nothing particularly unique about that, but they did it well, and in particular some of their covers brough out a viciousness missing from the originals -- that's not to say they did it better than the bands themselves, but I think we sometimes forget that even the classics might have been a little stiffer from studio stagefright.
Then their debut LP felt...Read more
The Manakooras are not what you think they are.
Comprised of Jeremy from The Aqualads, Ted Pilgrim, Brian and Gary from the Intoxicators, Tim from the Reverburritos and others, this is not a surf supergroup. This is an exotica group, and there's even less noticeable surf guitar than on previous releases they've done. Don't approach this like Tikiyaki Five-O, expecting surf covers of exotica, this is exotica enough that the surf musicians are really my only excuse for reviewing it. It...Read more
I have some old EPs from The Hang-Ten Hangmen dating back to 2010, playing trashy lo-fi surf with a bit of a dark edge to them. They turned that around with their much more bright and bouncy EP "Destination Saturn", which had some great expensive-sounding production and beach party vibes. They followed that up in 2018 with their LP "This is Boss", which doubled down on the party feeling with big foot-stomping vibes, sax, and keeping guitar tones fairly clean.
The Del-Vipers shot out like a rocket with their debut LP Terror of the Del-Vipers, then carried that momentum onto the more musically diverse EP Cannibal Safari. So you might be a little a little startled by how unstartling this album starts: with with friendly, sweet Shadows-ey guitar. On their second LP, The Del-Vipers have crafted a much more global, expansive sound that does more than just rip... but also still rips.
Their Cannibal Safari ...Read more
I remember when Northwest surf guardian Thom Head said I needed to listen to this local Seattle band The Delstroyers, and made sure I got a copy of their first EP. I remember hearing it and thinking he wasn't kidding. Since then it's been a lot of fun watching them go on to do bigger things. They released a blast of a debut LP, put out a cool 7" on Hi-Tide, and I've seen them play on two US coasts -- my then-unborn son even started kicking along to a pre-SG101 show, the first time he'd done...Read more
As global as the surf scene is today, I feel like we only get glimpses of what's happening in Japan. You hear about how tiny villages have "Ventures" bands, we know about eleki, Surf Coasters, and from what I hear it's a great place to tour playing surf music -- with all that in mind there must be more than the likes of The El Caminos, The Royal Fingers, Mach Kung Fu, 188.8.131.52's, Toni OK, Rat Holic, The Routes, Lulufin the Woohoo and Switch Trout. After all, those bands are all REALLY GOOD....Read more
I haven't done one of these in a while! It's another Bandcamp Friday, where Bandcamp skips its cut of sales and passes them to the artists. It's been a packed April, and full of lesser-known names to boot, so it's a good time for me to get back to sharing my finds. Here's some standout releases that I noticed, and I probably forgot some too. This is only April and early May releases, even though there was some great stuff in March too, and I they're super short since I wrote this whole thing...Read more
The Surfrajettes are the biggest ambassadors of surf music to emerge in a while, largely stemming from the viral success of their "Toxic" youtube video. I've caught them being played on my radio station by other DJs, several friends have sent me the aforementioned video, and my friends at a record store alerted me to this album being in stock when I walked in for Record Store Day without my asking. Of course in the internet age no attention is ever purely good attention, and surf...Read more
SSSU's unique blend of surf and lounge (for lack of better description) have been a beloved facet of the surf ecosystem for 25 years. However, though I think they never lost a step, their more recent efforts felt a little "library" (again, for lack of a better term). A little more genre-expansive, experimental, and a little less guitar. I always thought it was probably all they could do to keep from going stale, and they did it well.
To say that Flawless...Read more
Once again, today Bandcamp isn't taking a cut of purchases made on their website which makes today an excellent day to stock up on surf records. They got a little mysterious on us -- apparently June didn't have one and instead had a special Juneteenth event. I don't know if there was a July one, but in any case I have a lot to catch up on since the last one of these I did was May. That was so long ago we have a whole new coronavirus
Before I get started, there are...Read more
Just about everything I've written about this band has something talking about how I thought they were special when I first heard some demo EPs on bandcamp years ago. And I can't think of a better intro, so looks like I just did it again. But at this point I think I need to retire the narrative of ascending stars in the surf scene. Their first LP on Double Crown, The Lost Mission, was excellent and even found its way into the...Read more
I'm hard-pressed to think of a current surf band that's as straight-up delightful as Les Agamemnonz. Their image is outwardly ridiculous, robed in colored tunics and barefoot, coupled with some of the most inventive stage antics and a simply joyful attitude when playing.
To be a goofball is not necessarily to be an idiot. Balancing this out are their strikingly thoughtful recordings. Amateurs in particular feels equal parts big and small, ambitious but humble, and I think they're even...Read more
I've heard of surf bands springing from many genres. PLENTY of punk-influenced surf bands, some from a jazz background, but I think traditional New Orleans style jazz is a first. 80% of JJ and the Trash Dogs are also members of Tuba Skinny, one of the most well-loved groups from that scene.
However, this is not trad jazz surf. I don't know what that would sound like, but I'm open to it. Perhaps the way the two bands most inform each other is their attention to detail in replicating...Read more
It's kind of a given when doing a review that the band is, well, a band, and the album is an album. Truthfully I don't think I understand what Chung Kings are. Their facebook description is "Chung Kings is a moveable feast of like-minded musicians expressing its love for Lo-Fi Surf, Ethio-Jazz, Latin, Rhythm & Blues and Exotica." I'm not sure that really clarifies it much. They've described this album as a compilation, which explains the names of groups in parentheses.
Here's an...Read more
This one came out a few months ago and I would have missed it completely were it not from Ferenc's review in The Continental Magazine. If you have it, read that. This Finnish stuff always tends to sneak by!
Pekka Laine is no stranger to surf music, being a member of Sultans of Jungle and The Hypnomen. The Hypnomen's surf records are fantastic, but years ago they added vocals and went in a psych direction. When that sort of thing happens you can only just shrug and...Read more