Gremmys

Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Modern Surf Record

Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Modern Surf Record

This category is for surf groups that don't feel like they need to closely imitate the sounds of yesteryear, who carve out their own sound and identity. I don't know if I've ever crammed this category with so many records as this year -- and this is after several difficult cuts. Maybe I need to be more ruthless, or maybe there was just so much to love. I like to think it's the latter. Here are what I consider to be the cream of the crop for 2020.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Trad Surf Record

Best Trad Surf

These days garage bands with a little bit of reverb on their vocals are called surf bands. Thankfully, there are still plenty of excellent groups out there that know what surf really sounds like. The following bands aren't aiming to reinvent anything, they're all about making great instrumentals with that irresistable sound cooked up in the 1960s.

This was a good year for trad surf groups and an interesting one. Most of the groups below are sort of rising stars of the scene who made their initial appearance only in recent years, without much presence from the more legendary 90's era groups. Here are what I believe to be the standouts.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Album Art

Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Album Art

Welcome to the first, most irrelevant round of the Gremmy Awards. Album Art matters. Without listening it gives you an idea of what an album might sound like, the effort put in, and even though it shouldn't, it usually does have some say in whether or not you end up listening to it. Even when listening to the final product, it can guide the mindset that you listen in.

Here are several picks from this year that really stood out.

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Introducing the 2020 Gremmy Awards

2020 is over. Maybe not in terms of global panic, but we did technically make a trip around the sun. During that trip festivals were cancelled, bands couldn't play shows.... but music certainly didn't grind to a halt. There were a LOT of great surf releases in 2020 -- in fact I counted more releases overall than in 2019.

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Gremmy Awards 2019: Rest of the Best

Gremmy Awards 2019: Rest of the Best

The downside of assigning strange categories for your end-of-year review process is there's all these other things you want to recognize. So that's what this is for. These categories are completely unstructured. Some categories didn't exist last year, some categories disappeared from last year, and they might come back next year.

For the sake of layout I'm not posting individual Gremmy Awards images for winners, but if you won and you'd like me to send one, let me know.

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Gremmy Awards 2019: Best "Mad" Instro Record

Best "Mad" Instro

I can't imagine you stumbled upon surf music because it was popular. Wesweek out the obscure and different, and I think it's important to recognize those that are really trying to do try something new. This category is to recognize groups that have a loose foothold from surf but jump into more challenging directions.

This category used to be called Best Way-Out Instro, but I was never comfortable with that name and realized that "Mad" rhymes with trad and rad and works well enough. Mad as in crazy, not angry.

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Gremmy Awards 2019: Best Modern Surf Album

Best Modern Surf Record 2019

This category is for surf groups that represent the state of the music today. They're not focused on sounding authentic, they're about making a good surf record while accepting and incorporating the roughly 60 years of music history that happened since the birth of surf music. This description covers most surf bands releasing music today, and it's always really difficult to choose a winner. I cut a lot of great records from this list just to bring it down to this many -- easily the largest category this year! I feel that all of these albums are at the same level as each other, and I'll happily recommend any of them to anybody.

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Gremmys 2019: Best "Rad" Instro Record

Best Rad Instro Record

Arguably, surf was the first type of rock & roll to really focus on a feeling of power and aggression, playing songs faster and louder. As punk and metal rolled around, a lot of bands absorbed those influences into surf to really ramp up the ferocity. For the sake of categorization and rhyming, I've called these bands "rad" instro groups.

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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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Gremmys 2019: Best Album Art

Best Album Art Gremmy 2019

I love that surf has its own look and feel, and it certainly helps me find new surf records. What's interesting about this year is that I didn't notice as many bands adhering to that look and feel, and part of that was a surprising no-show from some of the heavyweights of this genre, such as Shawn Dickinson and Fred Lammers. Here's what stuck out to me.

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