Hi-Tide

The Manakooras - Jungle of Steel

The Manakooras - Jungle Steel

The Manakooras are not what you think they are.

Comprised of Jeremy from The Aqualads, Ted Pilgrim, Brian and Gary from the Intoxicators, Tim from the Reverburritos and others, this is not a surf supergroup. This is an exotica group, and there's even less noticeable surf guitar than on previous releases they've done. Don't approach this like Tikiyaki Five-O, expecting surf covers of exotica, this is exotica enough that the surf musicians are really my only excuse for reviewing it. It helps that it's really good too.

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The Surfrajettes - Roller Fink

The Surfrajettes - Roller Fink

The Surfrajettes are the biggest ambassadors of surf music to emerge in a while, largely stemming from the viral success of their "Toxic" youtube video. I've caught them being played on my radio station by other DJs, several friends have sent me the aforementioned video, and my friends at a record store alerted me to this album being in stock when I walked in for Record Store Day without my asking.

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Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - The Flawless Miss Drake

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - The Flawless Miss Drake

SSSU's unique blend of surf and lounge (for lack of better description) have been a beloved facet of the surf ecosystem for 25 years. However, though I think they never lost a step, their more recent efforts felt a little "library" (again, for lack of a better term). A little more genre-expansive, experimental, and a little less guitar. I always thought it was probably all they could do to keep from going stale, and they did it well.

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Les Agamemnonz - Amateurs

Les Agamemnonz - Amateurs

I'm hard-pressed to think of a current surf band that's as straight-up delightful as Les Agamemnonz. Their image is outwardly ridiculous, robed in colored tunics and barefoot, coupled with some of the most inventive stage antics and a simply joyful attitude when playing.

To be a goofball is not necessarily to be an idiot. Balancing this out are their strikingly thoughtful recordings. Amateurs in particular feels equal parts big and small, ambitious but humble, and I think they're even recognizing this with their album art, gigantic redwoods dwarving the band.

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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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Something a little different for Bandcamp Friday: Xmas music!

The Tourmaliners - Surfin' Christmas Carols

So there were e in November, but overall it wasn't a big month. Meanwhile I'm trying to scoop things up to get my 2020 non-surf picks and of course the 2020 Gremmy Awards ready to go, so let's do a lazy one.

One interesting trend about 2020 that I've noticed is that there's been a LOT of small one-offs. Halloween had a ton of singles ready for my show, and Christmas is shaping up to be the same way. Here's some 2020 releases to get you in the mood. I won't write about all of them because, let's face it, it can be hard to write about how bands play the same well-known songs and write about them in a way that sounds unique. OK I'll be more honest: I'm not in any rush to listen to Christmas music until week of, so I've barely listened to any of these. Also, for the sake of being thorough, I'll include a few non-bandcamp releases.

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It's not bandcamp Friday anymore but I missed three releases

The Seatopians - Up From the Depths

The tough thing about making articles about what you should buy on Bandcamp Fridays is that things come out ON Bandcamp Friday. And it sucks waiting an entire month to highlight them, especially when these three are just as high profile as anything that was in yesterday's list. So here's a supplemental article.

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Bandcamp is waiving their cut of sales today. Here are some great new surf releases.

the_birdcage - Wave Machine
Today Bandcamp is waiving their fee when you purchase a record, which means more money goes to the artist. That means today's a good day to buy a lot of music on bandcamp - and a good day for me to finally write some some things about some great releases that have come out in the past month or so. If you missed out today, Bandcamp will also be donating their share to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Friday, June 19th.

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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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Hi-Tide Summer Holiday 2019

Hi-Tide Summer Holiday 2019

The final stop of my 2019 tour of surf music festivals brought me to Asbury Park New Jersey for the newly named Hi-Tide Summer Holiday. The previous Asbury Park surf festivals boasted excellent lineups, and Magdalena and Vincent have done a fantastic job of building not only a label, but a brand that seems to be widening the appeal of surf music and culture. I was really excited to finally get a chance to see it for myself.

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