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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 Del-Vipers - Los Del-Vipers

The Del-Vipers - Los Del-Vipers

The Del-Vipers shot out like a rocket with their debut LP Terror of the Del-Vipers, then carried that momentum onto the more musically diverse EP Cannibal Safari. So you might be a little a little startled by how unstartling this album starts: with with friendly, sweet Shadows-ey guitar. On their second LP, The Del-Vipers have crafted a much more global, expansive sound that does more than just rip... but also still rips.

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The Delstroyers - 10,000 Ways to Die

The Delstroyers - 10,000 Ways to Die

I remember when Northwest surf guardian Thom Head said I needed to listen to this local Seattle band The Delstroyers, and made sure I got a copy of their first EP. I remember hearing it and thinking he wasn't kidding. Since then it's been a lot of fun watching them go on to do bigger things. They released a blast of a debut LP, put out a cool 7" on Hi-Tide, and I've seen them play on two US coasts -- my then-unborn son even started kicking along to a pre-SG101 show, the first time he'd done that to music!

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The Fuzziyama Surfers - Wild Echizen

The Fuzziyama Surfers - Wild Echizen

As global as the surf scene is today, I feel like we only get glimpses of what's happening in Japan. You hear about how tiny villages have "Ventures" bands, we know about eleki, Surf Coasters, and from what I hear it's a great place to tour playing surf music -- with all that in mind there must be more than the likes of The El Caminos, The Royal Fingers, Mach Kung Fu, 5.6.7.8's, Toni OK, Rat Holic, The Routes, Lulufin the Woohoo and Switch Trout. After all, those bands are all REALLY GOOD. Where are the mediocre Japanese surf bands?

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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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Chung Kings - Presents Surf-o-Tica

Chung Kings - Presents Surf-o-Tica

It's kind of a given when doing a review that the band is, well, a band, and the album is an album. Truthfully I don't think I understand what Chung Kings are. Their facebook description is "Chung Kings is a moveable feast of like-minded musicians expressing its love for Lo-Fi Surf, Ethio-Jazz, Latin, Rhythm & Blues and Exotica." I'm not sure that really clarifies it much. They've described this album as a compilation, which explains the names of groups in parentheses.

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