Gremmy Awards

Gremmy Awards 2021: Guest Gremmys

Guest Gremmys

The Gremmy Awards hinge pretty heavily on my own inexplicable tastes and biases, which is why I like to call for backup and ask for opinions from people who I know absorb a LOT of new surf material. I give them carte blanche as to how they'd like to present it, and most of my "editing" here is just formatting to fit the site better.

I want to make this known: this is publishing in April solely because of me -- these wonderful people submitted these months ago and I've just been such a disorganized mess that I'm getting around to compiling them now.

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Gremmy Awards 2021: Best "Mad" Instro Record

Best "Mad" Instro

This is a category for records that are either intentionally twisting surf conventions, pushing for novelty, or have moved past surf and into territory unknown. Or to put it another way, things that didn't fit neatly enough in the other categories. This is also a weird one to judge, since almost by definition these albums are pretty different from each other. Whatever. Here we go.

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Gremmy Awards 2021: Best "Rad" Instro Record

Best Rad Instro Gremmy

I'm not sure that any music that came before surf demonstrated the electric guitar's ability to bring out animal aggression. While that is certainly only one potential aspect of the 60's music, it was done so well that plenty of groups are still latched on to what was laid out then, while building on it and taking cues from surf's offspring metal and punk. I call this category "rad" mostly because it rhymes with trad and mad. While they aren't solely judged by the intensity and tenacity of the music, it certainly doesn't hurt!

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Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Modern Instro Record

Best Modern Instro Gremmy

I define this category as bands that are still ostensibly playing surf music, but aren't necessarily trying to sound like a band from the 60's. Similar spirit, but allowing newer influences, "non-standard" equipment, and are generally using surf music more as a jump-off point than a restraint. This is often the sort of "main event" of the Gremmys, the category that defines the most groups and often the most attention-getting groups. This year was a doozy. My initial list was over twenty candidates, and though I've narrowed it down considerably, I'm not sure this category has ever been this crowded. However, I spent a long time getting here, and I believe every single one of these are the cream of this year's crop.

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Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Trad Surf Record

Best Trad Surf Record 2021

Is there any other rock & roll fad that has lasted as long as surf music? Where are all the modern skiffle groups? There's something uniquely timeless about the sound of surf, and this category is a tribute to the groups that are determined to show just how everlasting and powerful that sound is. This isn't about taking the sound to new dimensions, but about keeping it simple and working with a tried-and-true toolkit to make amazing music.

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Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Album Art

Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Album Art

Album art is important. Bad album art can negatively affect a listener's opinion going in, and good album art can inform how to approach the album, what imagery they can conjure in their head. I think this especially important in instrumental music, where so much is left to interpretation without lyrics to guide you. Here are some records that stood out to me before I even listened to them.

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Introducing the 2021 Gremmy Awards.

Gremmy Awards 2021

Despite the world grinding to a halt, 2020 proved to be a surprisingly fruitful year for surf. And just like 2021 ended up not being as different from 2020 as we'd hoped, 2021 compared similarly to the previous year's bountiful instrumental outlet. But there are other things that may not be remembered from the recordings. For instance, surf music once again was played live in countries across the globe. Though most of the larger festivals were again delayed, some surf festivals resumed!

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Here's every surf/instro release from 2021 that I could find.

2021

The state of the surf is strong! This was another big year for surf music both in quality and quantity. These year-end lists are an attempt to convey this in at least some quantitative fashion. Clearly another year of turmoil and disease didn't keep people from making music, and thankfully this year we started to get back to performing live!

A few things you should know about this list:

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Guest Gremmys

Gremmy Awards are hard. I often don't agree with them a year later, there are records that I inevitably overlook or great albums that just don't find a place. Thankfully, I've met a bunch of friends over the years that I know are listening to plenty of new surf releases, and so I ask them for their favorites so that you can have some opinions other than my own terrible ones. I give them cart blanche as to how they want to write them up, so this may be a little disjointed, but I think it's fun that way.

Huge thanks to everybody that contributed! Parts in italics are my own introductions.

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