Gremmy Awards 2022: Best Rad Instro Album

Best Rad Instro Record

The Gremmys are a stupidly complicated thing, slicing up surf music into imaginary categories just so that I can make sense of things in my head. It's messy -- there are things in this category that could be in another category and vice versa. But the judging criteria of this one is delightfully simple:

Does it rip? How much?

This is a category for surf/instrumentals that aim to get your adrenaline spiking, maybe inspire some headbanging or fistpumping. I call it "rad" because it needs a name and it rhymes with trad. Let's go.

Honorable Mentions

Amphibian Man - Flaming Home

Amphibian Man are no longer a surf band, and I'm kind of grandfathering them in here particularly for this record. The surf songs we listen to are typically trying to evoke themes themes of leisure and fantasy -- surfing, spaceships, cowboys, unknown lands, etc. Amphibian Man are dealing with a lot of reality as a band in Kyiv, Ukraine, and perhaps the energetic colors of surf music aren't the right language for that setting. Is Flaming Home an instrumental representation of the experience of living under war? I truly can't say, but I do believe I hear that in its downtrodden yet strong demeanor, and it's a powerful listen for those empathizing with them.

The Zipheads - Surf Wars Vol. 1: The Day the Surf Stood Still

I don't have a rule against EPs making this list, I just have to find as much value in them as I would in something longer. So here we are, an initial instrumental offering from a longstanding psychobilly (to simplify it) outfit where all four tracks would likely be my favorite on another album. Normally a trio, they brought in an additional guitarist for an extra degree of chaos, and the result is densely packed, hard-hitting wildfire.

The Tulsa Doom - War Chief

Here's a record that begs to be turned up. Their crunchy sound probably owes as much to desert rock as surf, but just because they're heavy doesn't mean they're weighed down. Mean, huge, but not always grim, this album may not fit too neatly in the surf world, but they should have an easy time finding fans among us.

Evil Waves - Despotic Machines

I enjoyed Evil Waves' previous EP, which had a Spits-like lo-fi punk feel to it, but I think they evolved here in a bit more of a noise rock direction. It's something very few bands have done and I've loved just about every example I've heard. They have a real nasty tetanus-inducing buzz and they wallow in it. It's abrasive, heavy, basement-shaking stuff, and they get enough range out of it that it's a blast the whole way through.

The Eye Five - Coast Ghost

There's only one in this five, but it's the guitarist for , a band that I think I have overlooked in this category in previous years. The Eye Five often keeps a punk-like fast pace, but with spacey and impactful guitar playing that kind of makes them sound like slightly more minimal Madeira. There's a lot of energy here and it's funneled into an imaginative, adventurous vision.

The Whys - A Day On Mercury

I know what I'm doing. 16 years ago The Whys released their album Sanjyo and flew from Japan to the US to tour dressed as hula girls. It was fun and cute. It's tempting to continue to think of them this way, but man this record is mean. The guitar sounds punishing and the drums relentlessly push you on, ready or not. I mean just look at the cover art, they're ninjas now, and they're deadly.

And the Gremmy goes to....

This record starts on full blast, with sound clips reviewing the terrible events of 1986 soundtracked to howling, disastrous surf music. I love it. The album continues at that pace: shouting, exciting, titillating with a trashy sound but melody to back it up. It's honestly kind of hard to say much else from there. They don't have a particular gimmick. It wins because it hit the hardest and kept me bobbing around the most.

This band's previous releases were solid, but I think they've really managed to crank it up on this one. And what is it with France? Arno de Cea, Hawaii Samurai, The Irradiates, Demon Vendetta, many others, and now Z & the Tiki Twisters. Y'all have some rage. Anyway, congrats to Z and every Tiki Twister.

Rad Instro Gremmy


Share This





is a SURF & INSTRUMENTAL ROCK & ROLL radio show on

Every Monday from 4-6pm CST

Here's a to help you remember

Listen to WTUL

SSOR is not broadcasting right now, but there's always something interesting on at WTUL

Stream WTUL

or go to WTUL's website