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The Impressions - Lost Legends of Surf Guitar

The Impressions - Lost Legends of Surf Guitar

Sundazed has really been leaning into surf recently, with last year's, , and . All three records were either entirely or in large part unreleased material, which certainly had me excited, but there was a fair share of disappointment. The Chantays record wasn't quite as surfy as the cover art might have you believe, and I just found the Kay Bank studio stuff to be generally lackluster. The Vaqueros record was pretty good, but a lot of it was vocal. I applaud Sundazed regardless for putting them out -- release everything! Let no surf go unheard! But I was admittedly a little worried what another unreleased surf record from a basically unknown band would pan out to be.

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The Bomboras - SONGS FROM BEYOND!

The Bomboras - SONGS FROM BEYOND!

The Bomboras were a standout group of the 90's surf revival, bolstered by a wild live show (not that I ever saw it) and a little extra visibility from one of their albums being released on Rob Zombie's label. Their sound was loud and savage, full of wild energy without adopting overt punk influence, sticking with fuzz over distortion and letting the organ do a lot of the talking. They called it quits in the year 2000.

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Pollo Del Mar - Speed of Dark

Pollo Del Mar - Speed of Dark

The nice thing about being part of a small genre is that reunions are often as low-stakes as starting the band in the first place. It's not like they had to run the numbers to see if a big tour would be financially worth the effort. From I gather from the liner notes, they went on hiatus to devote more time to families and life stuff, played a few shows over the years on special occasions, and then started jamming during the pandemic and thought "this is nice".

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Blackball Bandits - The Cursed Island

Blackball Bandits - The Cursed Island

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 . They have arrived, whatever that may mean in this niche.

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The Tourmaliners - Tourmaline Dream

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 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.

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The Volcanics - Forgotten Cove

The Volcanics - Forgotten Cove

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.

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The Cholla releases Link of the Surf Guitar EP

The Cholla - Link of the Surf Guitar

I think cartridge-based video games and surf music have a lot in common, having to impart feeling without the aid of vocals and having to do so with a very limited set of sounds available. Going even further than that, surf often tries to evoke a sense of danger and adventure, which is very familiar territory for video games. The themes that stand out in video games stand out because they're great: you're usually going to hear them on a loop, often for hours, so if you still like them after you've completed the game then that's a feat.

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Glasgow TIki Shakers - Blue Transporter and Happy Halloween

Glasgow Tiki Shakers - Happy Halloween

The Glasgow TIki Shakers have a unique sound that’s hard to pin down. They’ve never been about noise, power, cavernous reverb. They’ve got this staccato jumpy groove to them, feels relaxed and uneasy often at the same time. More tiki spirit than a lot of surf bands to don a hawaiian shirt, but way too surf to be even close to exotica. Honestly, I think I’m failing to describe it, but suffice it to say that even as they change forms from one song to next, it still feels in line with their personality as a group.

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Frankie and the Pool Boys release Spin the Bottle

Frankie and the Pool Boys - Spin the Bottle

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.

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Blackball Bandits release The Lost Mission

Blackball Bandits - The Lost Mission

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 ). They’ve done a great job of retrofitting retro surf feel and attitude to more modern surf song structures.

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