Reviews

Post date: 11/23/2018 - 11:33
Amphibian Man - No Surfers In My Town

Amphibian Man has emerged from its tadpole phase as a one-man bedroom project into a 3-piece band that performs live and does real band things like not release music every 2 months for free. First and foremost, I'm happy for them. Amphibian Man has been one of the biggest stand-outs in surf in recent years and I love that they're making money from it both from records and from people seeing them live. Wish it could be me but Ukraine's not too close.

Whereas previous albums seemed to...Read more

Post date: 11/02/2018 - 12:13
Glasgow Tiki Shakers - Happy Halloween

The Glasgow TIki Shakers have a unique sound that’s hard to pin down. They’ve never been about noise, power, cavernous reverb. They’ve got this staccato jumpy groove to them, feels relaxed and uneasy often at the same time. More tiki spirit than a lot of surf bands to don a hawaiian shirt, but way too surf to be even close to exotica. Honestly, I think I’m failing to describe it, but suffice it to say that even as they change forms from one song to next, it still feels in line with...Read more

Post date: 11/02/2018 - 11:40
The Kilaueas - Touch My Alien

Sometimes I worry that I lean a little too hard into the sound production quality of an album vs songwriting, but for a band with such apparent surf fanaticism as The Kilaueas it really does feel like it’s the missing piece. The guitar sounds so much bigger and deeper than their previous LP Waki Waki Woo, the reverb so wet and loud enough to fit their stage act.

The song-writing is in modern surf vein and they mostly stick to that -- no token spaghetti western, etc...Read more

Post date: 10/19/2018 - 08:51
X-Ray Vision - Panique Au Biblos

X-Ray Vision as a technology is frequently thought of as gadgetry for means of espionage, and going by that definition it’s a surprisingly good fit for this band, blending spy tones with Astro-Man zip-zoop.

Central to this is the keyboards, swapping duty between swirling hammond-esque sounds and more futuristic electronic sounds and a few in-between. Sometimes in a fittingly spy manner, sometimes reminding me of their fellow frenchmen Les Tigres du Futur with a...Read more

Post date: 10/12/2018 - 18:05
Black Flamingos - Play Speedway and Other Hits

A new Black Flamingos! Should we expect them to broaden their horizons? Or will they stick to their blue-noted sour surf sound? Yes!

Here in New Orleans today feels like the first true day of fall, a completely different air but that heat is still there if you sit still. Now is the right time for this record. Surf is usually such a bright summer sound, but Black Flamingos’ previous record Neon Boneyard felt like a fun day at Coney Island on a foggy...Read more

Post date: 10/01/2018 - 07:59
The Del-Vipers - Cannibal Safari EP

In 2014 the Del-Vipers came out of nowhere (technically Austin, TX) with the relentlessly charging Terror of the Del-Vipers, one of my favorite surf records of the 2010s. It's hard to believe it's only been 4 years since we've heard anything new from them, but Cannibal Safari is a welcome return. The opener "Cobra's Fang" is exactly the stuff from Terror, an aggressive first strike with pounding surf beat. "Kapu" is a bit more of a stomper, not quite...Read more

Post date: 09/25/2018 - 22:20
Ted Boys Marinos - Surf Sessions

Album Good.

Trad surf records are some of the hardest ones to write about, or at least to write something unique. You have to grasp at the intangible or embellish something irrelevant into something meaningful. I've been listening to this album for a few weeks now and I've made no progress with those avenues.

This album doesn't show you anything new, doesn't do anything in an exceptional manner, it's just a collection of great surf songs. Even "Adrenal", which...Read more

Post date: 09/25/2018 - 21:59
Humanga Danga - Humanga Danga

Weird name, good band. Humanga Danga hail from Ghent, but I struggle to find much overt Fifty Foot Combo influence. Instead, their own stated influences of Space Cossacks and Langhorns sound just about right in the lead guitar tone: a good modern surf tone with a solid thunk to it and strong attack. It's helped out a lot but a very eager rhythm guitarist that's always punctuating the melody in interesting ways, sometimes making it hard to believe that there's just two guitars. These songs...Read more

Post date: 09/07/2018 - 11:50
The Mystery Men? - Firewalkers

Firewalkers has had a long road. The original plan was to have it released at the 2017 SurfGuitar101, and The Mystery Men? even played the album in its entirety, essentially treating it as an album release. However, it missed that date and instead they released a preview EP called Embers with some choice cuts from the album. So naturally it felt like it was just around the corner. A year later, they released a...Read more

Post date: 09/07/2018 - 10:18
Impala - In the Late Hours

Who would have thought that after 20 years of silence we’d see seminal instro acts of the 90s like Impala and The Bomboras rise from the grave? While I think surf is having a great year right now, it’s slowly changed since the 90’s, probably a little less traditional, or at least allowed a lot more instrumental music styles under its umbrella.

Perhaps that’s exactly why Impala is back. In the Late Hours is not a surf record. While it feels comfortably at home with their back...Read more

Post date: 08/24/2018 - 10:12
Los Protones - Misión: OA4

The trouble with releasing a greatest hits album (in Los Protones’ case ) as an active band is that your next release is expected to rise above that bar. Los Protones show that they’re willing to rise to that challenge,...Read more

Post date: 08/17/2018 - 11:04
The Head Henchmen - Oh No! It's the Head Henchmen

This music isn’t about commercial success, so just about everybody’s in it for fun. So it feels kind of wrong to judge a band by how much fun it sounds like they’re having, but damn if these guys don’t sound like they’re having a little more fun than the rest.

The Head Henchmen are a pretty traditional surf group and you’ll hear a lot of very familiar licks, but they have a great sense of why they’re used. The percussion is a huge...Read more

Post date: 08/17/2018 - 10:57
Reverb Nation: Live at the 2017 Surf Guitar 101 Convention

For those that got into surf somewhere after the 80’s and before bandcamp, compilations were key for exposure to more surf groups. That’s slowed down significantly, with only a handful of notable ones in the past few years (off the top of my head Brave New Surf and Monsters of Surf). Reverb Nation serves a dual purpose of commemorating a great lineup at the Surfguitar 101 convention (the tracks are mostly in the same sequence of the performances) and as a...Read more

Post date: 06/29/2018 - 09:15
The Bradipos IV = Lost Waves

In 2016 The Bradipos IV after 11 years The Bradipos IV released their comeback record The Partheno-Phonic Sounds Of… It was a great record, and gauging by the hype at Surfguitar 101, a lot of people agreed. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait very long for the next one.

While Partheno-phonic was comprised of traditional neapolitan songs, the new record is a bit more of a straightforward instro record, especially as they tend to be today. That means a few covers, some dipping into other...Read more

Post date: 05/29/2018 - 08:23
King Ghidora - The Secret Origin of an Unknown Planetary Destroyer

In surf music we don’t deduct points for being derivative so I’ll go ahead and confirm what you have already deduced from the album art: there’s a pretty heavy Man or Astro-Man? influence here But who among us thinks that the universe couldn’t use another Project Infinity? That’s basically what’s going on here: not so much the experimental, sciencey side of MOAM but the loud guitars and punk energy.

“Punk energy” is a hard thing to quantify, but the important thing...Read more

Post date: 05/24/2018 - 18:40
I Fattones - I Fattones

We are gathered here as worshippers of the vibrations of the guitar string, but stand before you today telling you that good surf music can be made with the guitar firmly relegated to a supporting role. Many of you may be quick to cry heretic, but the elders know that the saxophone was once a very respected rock & roll instrument, including in the surf realm.

The saxmanship displayed here is, I think, palatable to even the most skeptical surf fan as the energy...Read more

Post date: 05/20/2018 - 09:16
Tor Jones - Toro Jones EP

Always cool when somebody that listens to my show shows me their music, and it’s especially cool when it’s good! This EP comes out swinging with “Bat Outta Hell!” and “Bone Vampire” which have a Huevos Rancheros vibe except with a beefier low-end. Then “Lighthouse Point” cools it off a bit, reminding me strongly Los Straitjackets’ classic “Close to Champaign”. Then “Noche Sin Luna” goes for the creepy vibe before a cover of Sandy Nelson’s bouncy “Big Noise from the Jungle”. Then...Read more

Post date: 05/17/2018 - 08:15
Volcano Kings - Midnight on Switchblade Street

If I’d have known that Volcano Kings were going to release three more EPs after , I would have rationed my hyperbolic praise for them to span the next review. I don’t know much about them, and though they label themselves as a group that makes soundtracks (among many...Read more

Post date: 05/17/2018 - 08:09
The Cameramen - The Cameramen

The first track of Sunken City gives you a good cue of the album to follow: atmospheric lead-in giving a sense of setting and narrative, some vocals reinforcing that, then breaking into unmistakable surf guitar.

But yes, vocals. I usually focus on entirely instrumental bands but I think this is a pretty palettable approach for a surf fan, with a vocal style that sits somewhere between Boss Martians and Man or Astro-man. It’s hard to describe, but the vocal stylings...Read more

Post date: 05/16/2018 - 09:41
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.

Despite slashing the guest list, this still sounds very much like a Frankie and the...Read more

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