Storm Surge of Reverb is currently just one person and I have my own fickle tastes. There are lots of albums that I know others enjoy but didn't click with me, and there are albums I enjoyed but not quite enough to find their way into the Gremmys. So I call on my friends to spread it out a bit! The following people are very well-versed in today's instro music and I want to thank them for letting me put that to use.
Alistair Evans aka DJ Readers’ Wives
I met Alistair through Facebook but he's very active on bandcamp as well. He does live DJing with surf-friendly sets in Bristol UK.
I must admit that my choices are a tad limited as i’m strictly a buyer but i do get to DJ out this excellent music. So if anyone wants to send me free records and cd’s… Well i’m not complaining.
Arno De Cea - Retro Futurisme Volume 1
From the moment i first dj’d this one out, curious expressions swept over faces followed by gentle head nodding of a “WTF is this?” Instant converts. Fast crazy intense sci-fi surf.
Surfer Joe - Swell of Dwell
Surfer Joe can do no wrong in my book but this is the best album he’s put out. Full of catchy grooves.
Mary O & The Pink Flamingos - Split Album
This had more instro songs than vocals, but for a garage punk band with choppy tunes they sure know how to write some killer bouncy surf. Besides I’m a sucker for any song with a “Boing” sound effect in it.
Aloha Swamp - Swamp Vacation All Inclusive
The Messer Chups franchise continues. Oleg’s production skills are second to none. He’s like the Basic Channel of surf or the Bloodshot Bill but either way another unique album that needs no introduction.
The Invisible Surfers - Desert King
Serious fretwork indeed over a more rock n roll based sound but it’s still surf and thunders along at a terrific pace.
The Slot Rods - Dueling Dragsters
“Recorded in that not so stereo sound” as the cover proclaims. No shit. Some right dubious recordings but i don’t care as this ep is ace but it’s all about the first tune ‘My Orange Maverick’. The production is pure filth. A tried and tested track in my dj sets for some time to come.
I Fattones - I Fattones
I love me some sax in surf and I Fattones deliver it with bells on. A great EP and leaves me hungry to hear more.
Los Seitans - Summer Hangover EP
I have a vision of Los Seitans looking like Sunn O))) but they write some damned fine acid drenched reverb (as it says on the tin). Deep psych style surf one minute then full on vintage 50’s the next with lots of tasty atmospheric percussion.
Humanga Danga - Humanga Danga
A very versatile and diverse record with Mexican, cumbia and balkan flavours which is just as well as balkan music is pretty popular with the crusty jugglers. There’s nothing crusty about this dope EP.
The Del-Vipers - Cannibal Safari
What’s to be said, that’s not been said already. A mighty EP
The Flux Capacitor Award for an album which didn’t come out in 2018 but 2017 but i only heard it recently
Outer Space-Psycho Tropic Plank Tone - It Came From Outer Space
Oh my, a chance buy of this album which only had a limited release in Ukraine. This is without a doubt one of the best and freshest surf albums i have ever heard. Classic surf rhythms with some interesting technical chord changes, intense and progressive, complex yet simple. An exciting album up there with Arno De Cea and Daikaju alike. You need this album in your life.
In a way Ferenc has already appeared in the Gremmys a few times as a member of Frankie and the Pool Boys, but the real reason I asked him was because he's been posting his own surf record reviews on the Pool Boys' blog.
Best Albums of the 2018 in no particular order
2019 was a great (fantastic!) year for surf music. According to Storm Surge of Reverb, 156 surf albums were released. I like to write the occasional review on my blog, and I really only review albums I really like (and there were definitely some not too my taste this year). These are the ones in constant rotation in my world:
The Bradipos IV “Lost Waves”
The Kilaueas “Touch My Alien”
Surfer Joe “Swell of Dwell”
Black Flamingos “Play Speedway and Other Hits”
Monokini - "Systopia"
Tikiyaki 5-O “Tone Control”
Fascinating Creatures of the Deep “Float on Forever”
Satan’s Pilgrims (x2)
Les Aggamemnonz (digital)
“Rumble at Waikiki” The John Blair Collection
Best Addition to Surf Music
Les Aggamemnonz made a huge splash in America this year with a long tour of brilliant performances. They killed at SG101Con, Asbury Park and gave their all in small clubs like the Ivy Room in Albany, Great songs, great performances, a friendly and engaging stage show, they’ve got the whole package.
Best Album that will come out in 4 years or so
Based on two excellent singles released by Satan’s Pilgrims this year, I expect a collection to come out in a few years, and it will be terrific. Also, they’ll probably release another album or two in that time. Somehow, this very long running band stays vital and remains one of the top draws in the genre.
Best Album That Fell out of the Sky:
Literally, almost… When I was getting offstage at the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival, a gentleman walked up and handed me a vinyl album his son had recorded and produced– “Ampersand” by Magic Number (the artist behind it is Taylor Grant.) I haven’t been able to find out much about the project, but they do have a band camp page. If you dig Insect Surfers style spaghettis, check this record out. https://magicnumber.bandcamp.com
Best Live Album:
Hands down, the best live album released this year is The Madeira’s “Center of the Surf”. The “Reverb Nation” collection, also recorded at the 2017 SG101 Con comes in second. These were, possibly, the only live albums released this year, but they would have taken first and second place anyway.
Best Format to Release Surf Music:
Vinyl with a download card. I really should have put Spin the Bottle out on vinyl, I apologize. CDs are dead, which I’m really sad about because I really like the format. But, new cars don’t even come with CD players now and people are giving up on stereos for streaming. Fuck Spotify and all the rest, they do nothing to support the music.
Action List for 2019:
- Spend more time on SurfGuitar101.com (undeniably the best format for discussing and advancing surf music).
- Go see every surf band that plays within reach. Buy albums and support surf music and musicians.
- Write more reviews.
- Write more music.
- You can do these things too!
My wishes for 2019
- a revitalized North Sea Surf Radio (and/or more surf music shows that stream.)
- More festivals.
Kevin's a surf superfan. He monitors bandcamp as closely as I do for new releases and often gives people a heads-up on the Instrumental Surf Music facebook group.
Once again it was another FANTASTIC year on the Surf Music scene! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year's SG101 convention but am planning on attending in 2019. Not much personal news to report for the year apart from an OUTSTANDING surprise 50th birthday party my wife threw for me in August...I'm so naive, I had no clue what was going on!!
Here are my Top 5 surf albums of 2018:
5. Los Daytonas - Twang or Die
Los Daytonas hail from Spain and this is their second go round as a band. They took a six year hiatus after being active from 1997 - 2006, coming back with a vengeance in 2012 and having released three more stellar surf albums with this being the best (in my opinion). As you can guess by the title there is loads of twang throughout this release. There is something for everyone on this release from loads of trad surf sounds to lots of western twang, some spy and even exotica.
Favorite track: ‘Big Rod’
4. The Huaraches - Curl Up with The Huaraches
Hailing from the 'Great White North' of Canada, The Huaraches released their third album in 2018. The album cover capitalizes on the recent curling fad due to the Winter Olympics via a drawing of a coed pair curling. The Huaraches play self-proclaimed surf punk but I would not put them in this category, to me they seem to fall into a trad/space surf genre. You'll hear saxophone, keyboards and theremin at various points in the album. This is a very infectious album that should be played LOUD for maximum enjoyment. Be sure to check out their fun video for 'It's Called a Cave Stomp, Babe' on YouTube.
Favorite track: ‘It's Called a Cave Stomp, Babe’
3. Blackball Bandits - The Lost Mission
Sunny California's very own Blackball Bandits released their first full length album in 2018 after two singles and an EP in the last few years. For those who love the reverb-drenched, retro, trad surf sound you will dig this! The songs are well written and evoke visions of California beaches as well as Arizona deserts. I predict great things for the Blackball Bandits and their future in surf music.
Favorite track: ‘Blackball Stomp’
2. The 427's - Stay Gold
The second band on my list from Canada is The 427's with their 'Stay Gold' album. There certainly is lots of great surf music coming from north of the border these days! This album has it all…14 tracks of twang, spy, spaghetti western, hot rod, lounge, and exotica influenced music sure to please any instrumental fan. Be sure to check out their video for 'Diablo' on YouTube.
Favorite track: ‘Liberty Belle’
...and my top surf album of 2018 is...
1. The Surf Zombies - Return of the Skeleton
I have been a BIG fan of these guys from my neighboring state of Iowa for quite a while and have seen them play live a half dozen times. This album took four years in the making and it is well worth it! The Surf Zombies are a quartet led by Brook Hoover who masquerades as a guitar teacher when he's not jamming with the band. Each member is quite proficient on his instrument! Ian Williams is an incredible rhythm guitarist that complements Brook's leads well when he's not flashing lead runs of his own. The Surf Zombies are not new, they have a decent sized catalog as this is their 5th studio album release along with a couple live recordings. The band had been playing this new material live for a couple of years before they went into the studio to record and the tightness of the tracks shows it. The album grabs your attention immediately right from the beginning with the blistering 'Starstorm'. There are several melodic, infectious 'ear worms' here guaranteed not to disappoint ANY surf instro fan!!
Favorite track: 'The Hungry Eye’
Dorthy "DJ Dotty" Treasure
Dorthy DJs a show called Paradise Cove on North Sea Surf Radio and in general is very involved in surf music and shows. I like her twist on the Guest Gremmys this year...
Best Horror surf 2018
To say that there was some good releases in 2018 would be an understatement.
Below are just a few of the releases, In no particular order, that kept Halloween in my heart all year long.
The Primitive Finks- Cave Party
This album came out just in time to make the spooky season spectacular. It captures everything I felt was magical as a child during Halloween and brought tears to my eyes. If you haven’t listened to it yet. Do yourself a favor and turn it up loud.
Messer Chups Aloha Swamp- Swamp Vacation All Inclusive
I often fantasize of hearing certain genres melding together in perfect harmony. Horror surf and exotica? Yes please! This album sounds like the perfect ghoulish Hawaiian vacation.
Volcano Kings- An Exotic Monster Beach Party in Outer Space Vol. 2 (in progress)
A perfect mix of various genres all with an underlying sinister sound. Let this become your everyday soundtrack to make the mundane exiting as hell.
Nestor Burma / UKAY54
Every year when I publish The Big List Nestor's always got a list of things I've missed, so naturally I want to know what he's listening to. This year, turns out we were listening to similar stuff :)
It was really hard to make my choice, because there was so much great new stuff released in 2018. But my favourite albums are -
3) "Surf Sessions" by Ted Boys Marinos,
2) "Los Kosmos" by Los Kosmos and at number
1) "Crime-Jazz And Film Noir (Volume 1)" by Volcano Kings
and besides that I also have an honorable mention for the best single tune in 2018 -
"Diana" by Les Agamemnonz
imho one of the best surf tracks ever recorded
Okay thats it
And naturally I want to remind you that we have a very informal (likely abused) poll going on where you can chime in with your favorites.