Gremmy Awards 2017: Best "Rad" Instro Record

Rad Instro 2017

This is my own terminology for surf music that's more punk-influenced, with a focus on speed and force before anything else. I like it because it rhymes with Trad. It's not necessarily about who's the loudest and the fastest as much as it's about who's the best at being loud and fast.

Honorable Mentions

Light Strucks - Light Strucks

Light Strucks - Light Strucks

Last year the Light Strucks made themselves known with a great EP, this year they showed us what they really meant. They’ve got a bit of a post-punk sound to them, coming through especially clear on “Session Saison Sazonal”, which means their guitars often aren’t all that menacing in their tone, but coupled with some growling bass and relentless drumming and a persistently quick tempo it’s hard to deny their force. It grows on me with every listen, and I have a feeling we’ll hear something even better from them soon.

The Chukukos - Deep Latin Surf Attack

The Chukukos - Deep Latin Surf Attack

It’s only been out for a little over a week, but in just 10 seconds or you can tell that this is going to be a fun record. Chukukos play fast with guitars that moan and cry out and with plenty of reverb that makes it sound like a big ugly room. Always works! The tone reminds me a bit of The Apemen without the distortion. They never slow down, and the beat stays bouncy. It all comes to a frenzied conclusion on the excessive “Surfeando en los 90’s”.

The Cavaleros - Atomic

The Cavaleros - Atomic! The Album

Disciples of Wray, this is a band you need to keep an eye on. The Cavaleros play fast, mean, and dry like jerky. Their EPs have been a treat so far and though it’s disappointing that this is basically a compilation of those, it’s good to have a singular album to point people to. Most of these are covers, but they’re done with enough spit to still be fun. The few originals like Mexican Standoff are just as great.

Amphibian Man - Babylon

Amphibian Man - Babylon

One of the unexpectedly cool things about the Surfguitar101 convention was getting to talk to people in person about how cool Amphibian Man is. It's apparently not just me, a lot of other people have taken notice of the Ukranian mystery man. This year he slowed down his production schedule a bit, and I'm tempted to say that meant more polished, well-thought-out releases but all his 2016 output was pretty damn high quality. Babylon has shades of Madeira, which always makes things interesting. But I'll be honest here: when Amphibian Man slows down I raise my eyebrow and think "Ah yes, a more nuanced approach! Quite interesting! Quite!" and then when he rips it up my knee starts poppin, and I think "aww yessssssssss dis good, yaaaa".

Genki Genki Panic - Litanies of Surf

Genki Genki Panic - Litanies of Surf

Picking up right where they left off with last year’s “Spooky Fingers”, Genki Genki Panic gave us another 6 songs of cinematic evil in surf form drawing from influences like Danny Elfman, John Carpenter, and probably some Mike Patton. They’ve honed their already great sound with a little more grit and a little less reverb and it sounds unbelievable. It’s even more brutal and frantic than last year, I just wish there were more than 6 tracks.

Arno De Cea & the Clockwork Wizards - Flash-Freezing the Sun

Arno de Cea & the Clockwork Wizards - Flash-Freezing the Sun

Arno sometimes sllips into metalcore, but I like to treat this category with an attitude of "savagery by any means necessary" and that'd might as well be Arno's mantra. Though I think it is a slight improvement over 2015's Bug Terminal, it doesn't veer very far from that sound. That's fine because nobody engineers loud, gigantic walls of sound foiled by feisty guitar melodies quite like this group. "Danse jusqu'à ce que tu tombes" gives you a great idea of the full range of cacophony they can muster, but after many listens it's "Planète Antichromatique" that got put on repeat, wielding such a massive feeling of force to it that it feels symphonic rather than coming from a trio. Flash-Freezing the Sun is the sort of album with an urgency that makes anybody's day-to-day life feel comparatively peaceful and mundane, but then again anybody whose life could be appropriately soundtracked by this music probably died horribly shortly thereafter.

Arno De Cea Rad Instro Gremmy


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