Double Crown

Gremmys 2019: Best Trad Surf Record

Best Trad Surf Record

The definition of surf gets less clear all the time, but thankfully there are still some groups trying to anchor it down by explicitly reaching for the 60's. That sound is timeless, and though I love hearing how people take surf to new dimensions, it absoluteyl doesn't need to be taken anywhere. Here are some groups that made great records by sticking to the tried-and-true sound.

Honorable Mentions

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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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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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The Madeira release Center of the Surf

The Madeira - Center of the Surf

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.

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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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The Splashdowns release Rocket Tales

The Splashdowns - Rocket Tales

Splashdown is when a spacecraft hits the water upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere. When astronauts go from space to surf.  It's a great name for the splashdowns, who mix a semi-trad surf sound with a sense of cosmic wonder and adventure. Think  rather than Man... or Astro-man?, with a non-aggressive, thoughtful surf approach and not much reliance on out-there effects. There's a surprising amount of variety too.

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Gremmy Awards 2016: Rest of the Best

The Rest of the Best

There are some things that deserve recognition other than just the albums themselves. This is the category where I get to spill out the rest of those observations. These categories change year to year.

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Gremmy Awards 2016: Best Trad Surf Album

Best Trad Surf Album

If you go on bandcamp and sort by the "surf" tag, you may not recognize what you find. A bunch of garage bands, most of them with vocals. Meanwhile, a lot of modern instrumental bands cringe a bit when their music is compared to the product of a 60's cultural explosion in California. But there are some groups that are proud torch-bearers of that time. Not looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather recapture a lost art. These are the groups that did it best this year.

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The Concussions release Newaygo Sound Machine

The Concussions - Newaygo Sound Machine

The Concussions hit an amazing middle ground between being absolutely crammed with hooks and being understated. What I find is that this combination makes for an absurd amount of repeat spins in the car, especially as background music. Now, I hate talking about instro as background music, but when everybody finds themselves whistling it when they get out, I think that's OK. The Concussions are able to grab that simpler form of riff-based song-writing that seems left in the 60s and they do it effortlessly.

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The Volcanics release Stompin' Garage

The Volcanics - Stompin' Garage

The Volcanics aren't the most celebrated band on the Double Crown roster, but they're one of the most solid. While the mailman hasn't brought this one to my doorstep just yet, from Double Crown's descriptions this sounds like more of the same. More of the same means killer trad instrumentals that hit the sweet spot of testosterone and melodic sensibility sitting next to some great upbeat garage tracks. Not to mention I've always thought the production quality on their records hits just the right crispness and tone to get that great energy of the 60's classics.

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