The Gremmy Awards hinge pretty heavily on my own inexplicable tastes and biases, which is why I like to call for backup and ask for opinions from people who I know absorb a LOT of new surf material. I give them carte blanche as to how they'd like to present it, and most of my "editing" here is just formatting to fit the site better.
I want to make this known: this is publishing in April solely because of me -- these wonderful people submitted these months ago and I've just been such a disorganized mess that I'm getting around to compiling them now.
Mark fronts Mark Malibu & the Wasagas and makes a surf radio show called Surfin' A Go Go. He also put together the great Surfin' Kitty Xmas Vol. 2 compilation this year. I love that he used my categories!
2021 could have been a momentum killer for most bands….but Surf bands are like Zombies; the faster they move, the harder they are to kill… so we got heaps of new music.
Best Traditional Surf LP
The Cursed Island by Blackball Bandits
This LP has it all, great writing, recording and arranging… and for a Trad LP it never gets boring as the varied sounds, instrumentation and dynamics take you on a musical journey. The song The Wolves and the Fireflies falls into the category .. "Gee I wish I wrote that song !” A MUST BUY LP for sure!!! …. serious runners up would be Surf Zombies - In Color and The Routes - Instrumentals II.
Best Modern Surf LP
Arno de Cea & the Clockwork Wizards - Retrofuturisme Vol. 2
Intense, hard hitting, progressive, noisy, operatic, science fiction sonic journeys. This LP could easily cross over to fans of both Metal and Prog rock. I’d love to see this band live. ALSO, Incredible cover artwork by Flo Impure.
Best "Rad" Surf Record
The Underwater Bosses - The Night Divides the Ride
This LP could potentially be considered a traditional in sound however the beats are heavier and a bit more post-punk .. as well the guitar cuts like a steak knife but never sounds like heavy metal… phew! The songs are impeccably recorded and arranged. I think if I played this CD in my truck I’d be getting a lot of speeding tickets. I think if I played this CD at the dinner table I’d bite my finger!
Best Horror Instrumental
The Wet Ones - The Monster of Jungle Island
Movies and music sometimes go together very well... this band produced, filmed, edited, scored, and directed the 14 minute no-budget horror film in 2020 and released the sountrack January 1, 2021. Right up my alley!! The monster in the film is very close to the beast in 1964 classic, "Horror of Party Beach". Who doesn’t love weird atomic beasts that live off human blood… and play surf guitar… yes the monster eventually plays the guitar very well!!!
The Bomboras - The Return of the Up Up Sound
What else can be said about the Bomboras other than welcome back and thanks for 4 new AWESOME songs in a cool gatefold jacket on beautiful Red and White splatter vinyl. It’s got Fuzz, it’s got Farfisa all on a pounding beat! Party at Gregg’s is the standout song for me.
Best Cover Surf song
Don't Ask Me Love · Les Robots
WOWzers…… les Robots reimagine Uruguay’s Los Shakers 1965 hit Don't Ask Me Love … a haunting love song. They were the best of all the British Invasion influenced bands out of Latin America. Les Robots new LP "12 "Favorites From Planet Earth” has many reworked songs of the 60’s, specifically from the Hollies, Kinks, Zakary Thaks and many more … BUY the LP... I did!!!
Best Christmas Surf song
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Joel Paterson
Second year in a row I was up to my eyeballs with Christmas music this year with my cat sanctuary fund raiser. This recording really captures the sound and craft of those 50’s recordings and jazzy guitar styles. For those that dig Les Paul and Chet Atkins. If you added some record crackle, you’d swear it was a vintage rendition. Super well done.
Bug Music For Bug People by Atomic Mosquitos
Thankfully a lot of "out of print” surf releases from the 90s and early 2000s are getting re-issued for all the new surf fans out there. Everyone knows I love the Atomic Mosquitos and this lime green release hasn’t left my turntable. I can hardly wait for their just announced re-release of “Meltdown".
Best Album Cover Art
The Tremolo Beer Gut - You Can't Handle...
Any band that uses the same photograph for 7 albums, multiple singles over 20+ years deserves an award. We live in an age where a photo is worth a thousand streams, spectacle reigns over substance. However Tremolo Beer Gut let their music do the talking… and it’s AWESOME music.
Best Surf Music Video
The Green Reflectors - Cat Burglar Cut Up
The animation is by long time friend of the band, Benjamin S. Hebb! Hand drawn with magic marker on white paper, cut out like South Park. Stop motion mixed with some digital effects. Simple but labour intensive.
Since last featured in the Guest Gremmys, Dotty's show Paradise Cove has moved from Soundcloud to GTF Instrumental!
2021 proved to be a GREAT year in the surf and instro realm. While most of us avid concert and music show goers worldwide had limited access to live shows, our favorite musicians were hard at work making magic behind closed doors! Below is NOT a complete list every release I thoroughly enjoyed and loved (there were too many good releases), just a few I kept reaching out for again and again. AND are given in no specific order.
Full Length Releases
The Chung Kings – Presents Surf-O-Tica
The Hamiltones - Dracula Invitational, 1791
The Desolate Coast – Time Slips Away
Les Agamemnonz- Amateurs
The Tremolo Beer Gut – You Can’t Handle The
Arno De Cea & The Clockwork Wizards – Retro Futurisme Volume II
The Routes Instrumentals II AND Shake Five
Surfer Joe – World Traveler
Genki Genki Panic – The Munge
Disclaimer: I DON’T know what a munge is, but I DO know that THIS is the 7 inches you need to get your Halloween party in full swing AND if you are a Horror and spooky music lover like I am, this album is perfect for your everyday listening pleasure. This EP tells the tale of three monsters from the inner depths of your worst nightmares! From ominous, energetic to murky lagoon depths, to evil villain theme music (well, what will be MY evil villain song if ever I choose that route!). A perfect assemblage of songs with great cover artwork as well.
Messer Chups – New Wave or Surf Wave
How were we to know that we needed some sweet 80’s new “surf” wave zen to get us thru this year? We didn’t, but Messer Chups knew. Suddenly, the songs you danced to in sweaty, gloomy night clubs while sporting teased hair that reached towards the sky, wearing enough eyeliner to draw a life size rendition of Notre Dame, are transformed into entrancing echoing lullabies. Elegant and sophisticated, they’ve transmuted great 80’s and 90’s hits to become your favorite refined surf hits of today. This EP soothes the soul, and they even added an excellent danceable vocal, just in case you wanted to relive your wild clubbing days for a bit.
The Bomboras- The Return of the Up Up Sound
The mere rumored mention that The Bomboras might be back on the scene early last year was like a warm hug from my teenage years, a time when my back didn’t hurt, and I could remember the reason why I went into a room. The Bomboras however, set a bookmark in the pages of the past and re-emerged, promptly setting fire to said pages. They aptly shifted their sound gears, facing forward to the future with fresh vitality. Was this the same band I remembered? No. They are colossal, better than ever, with an eminent sound, still as captivating and exciting if not more so. I was so fortunate to hear this in advance of the respective release and sat dumbfounded with mouth agape, and yet months later, I still cannot get enough of this release.
The following few albums gave me the flames that warmed my heart,
body and soul and kept my faith alive for the present and the future of surf music.
- PEKKA LAINE - The Enchanted Guitar of Pekka Laine
If anyone tells me again that surf music do not have a soul,
I will make him listen to this vinyl until his ears are damned.
My absolute favorite album for 2021. A masterpiece!
- LES AGAMEMNONZ - Amateurs
Another step above their fine earlier works.
Complex and sophisticated. A dive to the past in a modern way.
A magnificent release!
- TREMOLO BEER GUT-You Can’t Handle…
A celebration of powerful surf sounds from killer waves,
with great Guests! A superb release!
- YOUNG BARONS-Hella California
So many covers? So WHAT!!!
This record is a piece of raw power, youthful energy,
pure love for surf music. Brilliant!
- CHUNG KINGS - Presents Surf-O-Tica
A very nice surprise from a bunch of musicians
in Amsterdam and a very enjoyable album. Splendid!
B. CONFIDENTIAL & THE SECRET FOUR - Black is the colour of my baby’s soul/Satan is her name
Bambi Molesters fans don't lose this. A real gem!
Another friend with a finely-tuned surf release radar. I want to point out that Uwe sent this nearly a month before I had posted *any* Gremmy awards and his list includes almost none of my picks -- this is why I love to do this category!
- Bamboogie Injections – Orbit Chaos
- Chrome Castle – Forts
- Doctor President – Doc Pres
- El Borko – Surficana
- Frankie & The Pool Boys – The Wet Season 2008-2021
- Lazer Gun Saloon – Seven Weighs More
- Los Blue Marinos – Big Mamma
- Messer Chups – Visiting The Skeleton In The Closet
- Superdune – Superstition Mountain
- Wormkids – Inzen
- The B. Christopher Band - Surfing With A Vintage Lad
- The Belharras – Pelee
- The Capacitors – Hang 10101010101010101010
- The Cruncher – X (Ten)
- The Diamondheads – Hot Sand
- The Guantanamos – Asylum Escape
- The Mermen – Splendeurs et Miseres
- The Wet Ones! – The Monster Of Jungle Island
Best wishes from Cologne
To friends that appeared in past Guest Gremmys that I did not reach out to this year, it's purely because of disorganization. If I don't reach out to you next year, feel free to reach out to me! I have not yet had a Gremmy Guest I would not invite back.