Reviews

Post date: 03/31/2020 - 14:47
The Bluebottles - Poolside with...

The title "Poolside with" may seem somewhat generic, but it's actually a bit of a clue. The Bluebottles aren't out to capture the adrenaline rush of a monster wave, it's a lighthearted album full of party music. Even though opening track, though lively, features an acoustic guitar lead, aiming to greet with an active dance floor rather than an overwhelming salvo.

However, this is also a cut above your average hawaiian-shirt clad grandpa...Read more

Post date: 03/20/2020 - 09:10
Genki Genki Panic - Kahuna Mutato

Genki Genki Panic stands at an unlikely intersection between Mike Patton, Cave In, John Carpenter, Danny Elfman, surf music, and nerddom. Their own description of this album is that it was supposed to be an epic noise/surf concept album, and it seems it languished and they were like "eh, it's the apocalpyse right now, let's just push it out." Oddly enough, I think it settles into something that feels just about right for this band.


Most of these tracks are labelled...Read more

Post date: 03/11/2020 - 19:17
The Coffin Daggers - Eleki Album

The fourth LP from Coffin Daggers is perhaps a bigger turn than having a google-eyed bongo-playing demon on the cover: it's a cover record! Of eleki tunes! For those unacquainted, Eleki is a Japanese instrumental rock & roll music, highly Ventures influenced, typically with very sharp, staccato guitar tones. Admittedly, Eleki is a bit of a weak point in my instro knowledge -- I always kind of hoped I'd go to Japan and blindly buy anything that vaguely fit the bill and learn from there...Read more

Post date: 03/11/2020 - 19:08
The Apaches - Rancho Deluxe

You know what they say about the eventual fate of good things, and in this case it's cool skulls on The Apaches album covers. It does not appear that this was their secret ingredient, however as this is my favorite record yet from them.

Skulls aside, this is not a big departure from this Phoenix-based group, and it's been hard to nail down why this particular release feels so good. They've always walked a line between straight surf and spaghetti western (often with...Read more

Post date: 02/05/2020 - 14:14
The Ventures: Stars on Guitars

Last year there was an unfortunate collision of interests for instrumental music fans: two documentaries on The Ventures, each seeking crowdfunding at the same time. Stars on Guitars appeared to have suffered more from that conflict, raising considerably less than Walk Don't Run with roughly a third as many donors. However, this clearly didn't shake the team for Stars on Guitars, as their film readies for release while...Read more

Post date: 11/22/2019 - 13:40
Surf-a-Tomica -  Auténtico del Líbano

Surf-a-Tomica made their debut earlier this year with a full of great guitar lines and a great, punchy beat. Did they know they were going to release another 7 songs within the same year? While a full album would have suited them well, they took a good formula and made it great here....Read more

Post date: 11/22/2019 - 13:12
The Tourmaliners - Tourmaline Dream

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...Read more

Post date: 10/16/2019 - 08:32
Chewbacca's - The Return from Echo Lake

Chewbacca’s have released two great Astro-Man styled records back in 2002, resurfaced with a great split LP with Espectroplasma in 2012, and that’s it until now with this full LP on Sharawaji Records.

The Astro-influence remains strong with this group, adopting very similar guitar tones throughout and of course sprinkled with all sorts of sci-fi sound clips. The production is a little more cushy than their previous releases, with more bass and guitar not quite as...Read more

Post date: 10/16/2019 - 08:03
Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - Studio 37

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited would be one of the best at their genre if they didn’t feel like their own genre. If each LPs sounds similar to the last, I believe that’s OK because nobody else sounds like them and that sound has been pretty tightly designed since LP1.

There has been growth though, even if it’s subtle. The opening track “Rocket TX7” is a great example. Guitar is used sparingly, hardly the front-and-center instrument -- if there even is one, but...Read more

Post date: 10/09/2019 - 08:30
Durango14 - Gigante Panamericana

Every Durango14 album has built significantly on the last one, and while 2016’s Vol. 3 was very close, I believe this is the album they were striving to make.

This is a big, explosive sounding record that’s always charging ahead and keeping the energy peaked, but it’s also a sonically diverse one. The latin-styled percussion on the first track launches straight into a party atmosphere. And that’s one thing I heard about their great performance at Surfer...Read more

Post date: 09/20/2019 - 10:10
Les Robots - The Fascinating World Of...

The initial few EPs from Les Robots were immediately exciting: they were bar-none the best modern Joe Meek sound-alike that I'd heard. Thankfully, they didn't keep us waiting for long to hear a full-length, and I think it delivers on the promise of those EPs.

A big part of the reason I invoke Meek here is the prominent clavioline, a signature ingredient of the sound of The Tornados, The Moontrekkers and the like. That electric honk is so weird and strange, and yet very...Read more

Post date: 09/13/2019 - 11:43
The A-Men - Let's Fly to Mars

Let's Fly to Mars is a high-profile, long-term, cross-continental collaboration between Jeremy DeHart known primarily from The Aqualads, El Firetone from El Ray, Dr. Boris  from Messer Chups, and Dane Carter from The Madeira. Jeremy lays out the story in detail in...Read more

Post date: 09/10/2019 - 08:02
Black Valley Moon - The Baleful Sounds of...

The Sharawaji Records roster has been growing steadily and adding more high-profile releases. They recently grabbed some attention for the upcoming Chewbacca’s record, but meanwhile this little gem snuck under the radar. Black Valley Moon features the guitarist from Epitaph punk band Down By Law, but they do a great job of carving out a unique surf that feels accomplished and comfortable within the genre.

The one funny thing here is that their bark is definitely worse than their bite...Read more

Post date: 09/10/2019 - 07:35
Beach Moonsters - Wild Surf Power

I don’t know much about French surf power trio Beach Moonsters but they quickly had me thinking of another prominent French group: Hawaii Samurai. They’re tastefully clipped to sound loud, play fast, and generally keep it pretty stupid and fun. There’s one slower one “Before the Death of the Gringo”, but it’s by no means any softer. It’s hard to find much to say here, if power surf is your thing, I think your interest will be piqued.

...Read more

Post date: 08/09/2019 - 11:53
Via Combusta - Via Combusta

Recently the surf radio show Heads Up! with Carmen Ghia put on a monster 11-band showcase of Seattle's surf/instro groups. On that roster was a band called Via Combusta, who have been playing Seattle surf shows for a while but seem largely unknown outside their home turf (and was certainly unknown to me). This 7" was slated for a release this fall, but waddaya know, they were ready to go earlier than expected, which is seemingly never the case these days. I think they deserve a...Read more

Post date: 07/26/2019 - 11:39
Los Frenéticos - Teletransportación

In 2015 Los Freneticos’ album El Sonido Que Perdura was anointed with my record of the year (man, I was playing fast and loose with the word "trad" then...). It’s a record that bursts with energy, exuberance and playfulness. Teletransportacion is the follow-up to that record, and though...Read more

Post date: 07/20/2019 - 14:37
Amphibian Man - Shapes (Side A)

3 releases in less than a year, perhaps Amphibian Man is getting back to his previous furious pace. Though went back to slapping some reverb on that guitar, these 7 songs are about as dry and punk-sounding as they've ever been, to the point where I'd consider this instro-punk instead of instro-surf.

But for fans of Amphibian...Read more

Post date: 07/20/2019 - 14:19
Cat Sith - Outsider

Cat Sith (or Catsith, they never seem to settle on that) have released 3 EPs and 2 LPs since April of 2018, and every subsequent release gets a little more poisoned.

Their sound definitely is rooted in surf, reverbed out guitar and all, drums, upright bass and often saxophone or even some bongos. But they're getting better and better at using them tastefully wrong. The reverb rings out a bit longer than comfortable levels, and there might even be some very subtle...Read more

Post date: 07/19/2019 - 12:15
Death Wave - Mare Incognitum

Despite hearing their first EP, something about this led me to believe that it would be fast-n-nasty metal-tinged surf, but Mare Incognitum actually adopts a pretty normal modern surf sound at a normal pace, just dwelling a bit more on the darker side. That's no complaint though, each of these is punchy and fun, almost always danceable, and with a good sense of when to go big, when to sound a little nastier, and generally how to stay interesting and fun.

They seem to...Read more

Post date: 06/08/2019 - 08:14
Galactic Gold - Digital Vape

I've often seen talk of drum machines in surf but it usually seems like a solution for bedroom composing and the inability to form a band. I gotta say that most of the music I've heard with them is... eh. But there are some bands that have fused surf with synth and drum machines very well, such as earlier Messer Chups and Matorralman. Galactic Gold sounds like neither and pulls it off well.

I think the success lies in the...Read more

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