Another Bandcamp Friday where all of your money goes directly to the artists -- and I use it as a push to get me to write some stuff about new releases. This is by no means every release or even every good release, but they're the ones that stood out to me. Some oddballs in this group! Let's dig in
Les Robots - Project World Control
Les Robots were in the last Bandcamp Friday roundup with a 7" and then BAM, full-length. I've sung their praises a bunch of times here -- clavioline heavy group that sounds like a modern Joe Meek group, perhaps with a little more focus on sounding robotic. Their song structures are dead simple and catchy as surf music oughta be. While their recent 7" was a bit of a stretching out, this is a focus-in, staying robotic (perhaps with a darker, angrier sound than their first). I can't get enough of this band -- in fact I went ahead and bought their new collaboration with yeye artist Fleur too.
The Rough Shapes - Lost Stations EP
Sitting somewhere between the hazy psychedelia of The Mermen and the jazzy darkness of Big Lazy with perhaps a little more cinematic flair than either, The Rough Shapes have a very exciting EP here. I wasn't aware of their first EP, but giving it a quick listen the recording on this one is a little more pronounced. A like a lot of what's happening on this record, and I love the way it ends.
The Bali Lamas - High Times/Low Tides
I love the sound of the opener "Bud Lime City" - a warm growling chord that sounds straight out of the amp. These guys have a strong energy with a bit of a menacing attitude. Generally pretty modern/trad sound to them, but sometimes I feel shades of a more post-punk Sonic Youthy sound, like in "Choose Your Own Galaxy". Make sure to turn it up, get the full range of that reverb and the grit to the guitar.
The Reverbivores - The Reverbivores Watch TV
First full length from this group after a strong debut with their Orbit ot Intercept record. This is a solid modern/trad surf record that's a pleasing listen the whole way through. I think I like them most when they relax a little like on "The Girl from A.C.T.I.O.N." and "Costa Mesa Curl" but it's all worth a listen.
The Ghiblis - Domino
The Ghiblis have members of the great group Diabolico Coupe (check out either of their records if you haven't) and put out a great debut EP in 2018, so I jumped at the chance to hear their first full length. Domino is 11 tracks of fun straight-ahead surf music with plenty of sax. I think the opener "La Nana" is a standout, with some overbearing loud surf guitar, but I also enjoy the lighthearted "Oki Doki", the aggressive burner "No Shortcut" and the exotic latin/jazzy closer "Yasega Wat".
Gitkin - Safe Passage
Having just completed an interview with Gitkin, I'm quite familiar with this one by now! Gitkin combines a lot of influences from likes of middle-eastern music, surf, chicha, tuareg and New Orleans and combines them into a a wild mix that's continuously refreshing but always danceable and accessible. I've seen him compared to Khruangbin, and I get it, but this feels a little more exotic and bombastic than Khruangbin's subdued and subdermal approach. And perhaps more important to mention here, this feels a little more surf-friendly. I've really enjoyed soaking this album in, and his previous debut record was just as fun.
Thee Orbits seem to have three distinct sounds that they're blending: Surf (duh), a dash of Meek groups like The Tornados, and exotica. What's interesting is that these parts all feel mostly intact -- this isn't a soup where everything is blended into a new strange sound (like the above record by The Rough Shapes for instance). It's a sandwich where you can see each ingredient, but it still tastes good altogether. The organ gives me occaisional Surfites flashes, though that's really not a great comparison. It's on the slower side, taking its time, but there's enough to take in.
Vern Jules & the Aquanauts - Spyforce EP
Great surf sound with excellent interplay between guitars but what really stands out to me are the moodier second two tracks with an excellent sense of atmosphere. Excited to see what this group does from here.
The Men in Gray Suits - Shark Bait EP
Of course this band releases something the same year as The Men in Grey Suits. The worst thing is that neither should be ignored! This group is the more traditional surf record of the two, but very loud and in-your-face with their sound, particularly with some saxophone that has that blastin' feel like in the Revels' Comanche. All four tracks are great.
The Creature Preachers - Halloween Hullabaloo
If you were to ask me a week ago what new Halloween surf I'd recommend, I would likely point you towards The Creature Preachers' first EP from February. But then they released another one just now! Slow, lurching, lo-fi and "bad" sounding (in the good way). The standout for me is probably the least traditional "Mummy's Minuet" with it's spooky synth.
Frigoria - 13
This isn't surf music by any stretch. I don't think I can even make out any guitar. But you're gonna want some Halloween tunes and that stuff always tends to release like 3 days before Halloween, and I think this is delightfully crass and spooky. By the way, if you're reading this an you're planning on releasing a Halloween record, don't wait until the last minute. Or at least send it to me in advance so I can put it on my Halloween show!
Halloween Beach Party
The Zomboco label released four records all at once, and one of them is this Halloween compilation. A lot of these are leaning more towards beach party in mood, but there's a lot of covers of Halloween surf favorites (and of course, a misfits song). It's name-your-price and can double as a sampler for the bands on the label.
Vertigogo - Jetpack
Threesome with a raw and trashy garage sound. Their sound has plenty of bite, but they strike me as more of a bar band than the sort of group that tries to overwhelm you with speed and aggression. Maybe think of Flat Duo Jets. Name Your Price too!
Night Zoo - Vs. the Cast-Iron Mummy
There are several things going on here, with jazzy drumming, punk-styled growling bass and guitar-playing that's kinda horror surf, kinda post-punk. I definitely connect with it on a surf level, but it's constantly wandering off the beaten path and into the unknown. And I like it!
Sallas Orchestra - Nostalgia do Futuro EP
I just saw this one as I was wrapping up this article and it'll likely take a little more time to really process it, but these seem like some nice and sweet instrumentals with a big wall of sound and plenty of effects at play. Despite the big sound, I think they're aiming for warm and fuzzies, Pet Sounds style.