If I’d have known that Volcano Kings were going to release three more EPs after what they already released earlier this year, I would have rationed my hyperbolic praise for them to span the next review. I don’t know much about them, and though they label themselves as a group that makes soundtracks (among many...Read more
The first track of Sunken City gives you a good cue of the album to follow: atmospheric lead-in giving a sense of setting and narrative, some vocals reinforcing that, then breaking into unmistakable surf guitar.
But yes, vocals. I usually focus on entirely instrumental bands but I think this is a pretty palettable approach for a surf fan, with a vocal style that sits somewhere between Boss Martians and Man or Astro-man. It’s hard to describe, but the vocal stylings...Read more
Frankie and the Pool Boys are still allowed to be a called a supergroup (because they’re super!), but I think they’re done being a side project. For one, they’re a band now -- a core group of members playing on every song instead of a hodgepodge gang of guest artists. And at three LPs they’re starting to rival or exceed the output of some of the bands their members were known for.
Despite slashing the guest list, this still sounds very much like a Frankie and the...Read more
Center of the Surf is a live recording of surf giants The Madeira playing at the 2017 Surfguitar101 Convention in Torrance, CA: essentially the center of US surf music fandom and surf music history. Present in the audience was Mark Linett, a 3-time grammy winning producer and engineer capturing it all.
Sonido Gallo Negro isn’t a surf band but I’ve noticed that they’ve got a lot of surf fans. After months of drifting around on Spotify, their third LP has finally seen a proper release.
Let’s back up a little bit. In the late oughts Barbes records released the Roots of Chicha compilation, which brought attention to the chicha music of Peru. The folks behind this compilation were in a band called Chicha Libre and released their first LP Sonido Amazonico, named after the Los Mirlos...Read more
Go to their bandcamp page and it says released January 18th and I've been listening to this one since then, but they told me their album release date was March 30th so I waited a bit. With that extra time I've been trying to nail down what it is I like about CARLO but it remains elusive. It's hard to even pick out a real standout track, as I've found this record is best taken as a whole. It's the mood really, laid-back and adventurous at once, like a day trip to a swimming hole. While...Read more
A new album from Arno de Cea and the Clockwork Wizards is a stop-what-you’re-doing thing. He’s on top of his game and delivering a surf sound that nobody else has. But admittedly, two tracks in I found myself a little apprehensive about writing this review. What more is there to say about his nearly-perfected, patentable Brutal Surf? After two albums of the stuff, are there any worlds left to obliterate?
It’s been great watching Blackball Bandits find their way from a couple of bandcamp so-called-demos to a proud members of the Double Crown roster (and featured on the soundtrack to a remake of one of my favorite games). They’ve done a great job of retrofitting retro surf feel and attitude to more modern surf song structures.
The Lost Mission is...Read more
Everything Volcano Kings has released has warped surf in exciting ways and done so in such an expert way that it seems like it must come easy. Despite the title, this is surf guitar before it's crime jazz and noir, but it you can find that pounding forward-moving drive of crime-jazz and some smoky mystery from a noir. But then you've got "Mechanical Beast" like some sort of steampunk wild west soundtrack and some cyberpunk electronic mayhem on "Night Life". They're all over the place, but...Read more
The Terrorsurf have a new LP of trashy surf tunes and even pressed it to vinyl. Bands with a lo-fi sound like theirs often seem like a weird fit for vinyl but it turns out this is a bit nicer of a sound than they had on their 2016 debut under this name. They’re not really lo-fi anymore (they claim to be Zombiphonic Hi-Fi) and they’re better for it: it’s still got a punk momentum and it’s still usually dealing in a low, scummy mood (but not always!). They’ve also added a second...Read more
After 6 years without a release, Y Niwl (pronounced Ur Nyool) have emerged with a new sound. For lack of better terminology, it's a bit more "indie' with guitar tones more in-line with modern music and with the keys (still prominently featured) expanding to different tones as well. I like it. They keep their whimsy from earlier works but have moved into something a little more expansive sounding.
This album is a bit front-loaded, slowing down and perhaps even reverting to a more...Read more
It's been 4 years since The Irradiates' last LP Revenge of the Plants and though we've had some Arno de Cea & the Clockwork Wizards albums to keep us happy in the meantime, it might be a little disheartening to see that this is a collection of rarities, unreleased tracks and live cuts if you were expecting an album.
Do not be disheartened. This will absolutely serve as the Irradiates LP you've been waiting for. The opening track should convince you...Read more
Let me suggest that you skip the first track. It's a good song, but it's got a thin garage-surf sound that gets the wrong idea across.
OK now we're going. You've got brass, a lot more low end, and some whammy bar. This is a much better idea of what to expect from Los Kosmos. This is fun modern surf with playful progressive leanings. I get moments of later Los Straitjackets and maybe even early Laika and the Cosmonauts (especially "V Jope Fantik"). Give a listen...Read more
The sophomore release from De Surfures has me wondering why I didn't pay much attention to their first. This album is full of punchy modern surf instrumentals with a great grit and momentum to them, with a few fun twists thrown into the mix. The mix on this is a little funky, with the percussion way up there and guitars at sometimes nearly subliminal levels, and it feels like that mixer is moving around pretty often. It takes some getting used to, but in the end I think I like it. It's a...Read more
After 4 years this New Orleans local surf punk band has put out their third release. Every Bills release has sounded better than the last, and this one lets you know it right from the first loud and heavy note of guitar. And they're proud of it; even though half of this album is vocal, the guitars are always just as loud.
But we're here for the instrumentals. Some of these are familiar from past releases ("Apollo Creed", "The Maggot", "Cockface Creep") but sound great with the new...Read more
After their promising 2016 EP "Here Come the Delstroyers" these Seattleites have thrown together a longplayer for us. And it's a lot of fun.
Really, you just have to listen to the opening track to get the picture with the Delstroyers: Straightforward modern surf played with passion. These are some of the hardest records to talk about because The Delstroyers don't exactly do anything in a way that sets them apart, but this is a style of music where the intangibles are important, and...Read more
The Quaketones caught me with my pants down. I had only heard about them a day before this poped up on bandcamp despite them being from New Orleans.
This is not a straightforward surf band. It's clunky, not especially wet, and there's not much of a wall of sound. I'm still not entirely sure what their instrumentation is... upright bass? Lap steel guitar? Pretty sure there's some saxophone. It's kind of a hillbilly surf sound, even with moments of a busking New Orleans jazz sound, but...Read more
Las Vegas Grind is a compilation series put out by Crypt records featuring bawdy instrumentals that were more about honkin sax than reverbed guitar. That series helped identify a different style of rock & roll instrumental that might have otherwise been shrugged off we came to get a little more obsessed with genres and focus on this idea of "surf music". If you need a reference point, Tequila would fit nicely into Las Vegas Grind, though I'd suggest just grabbing those compilations, they...Read more