This is the first set of albums included in this countdown. Though these may be lower on the list, being on the list at all is a great accomplishment, and if it were entirely up to me several of these would be much higher. That said, since these had fewer votes than higher on this list and there were more tie-breakers to decide, their position was a little less absolute and my thumb pressed on the scale a little bit more than it will in subsequent chunks.
For more details about how this list was decided upon, see this page.
The greatest Mexican sound-alike of Man or Astro-man returned delivering on the promise of galactic guitars and electronic meddling.
Intoxicos - End Times (2019)
Innocently released in 2019 with no idea of what 2020 would hold, Brazilian group Intoxicos successfully balanced surfin' fun sounds with a foreboding haze.
It's a rare thing to find a band that can "pull off" sounding sloppy rather than just be sloppy. The Head Henchmen's debut is as genuine of a trashy surf party record as they come.
A nice drippy-wet surftone accompanies adventurous sci-fi tunes with a great whirling organ. Fun and punchy the whole way through.
The debut record from this Moscow group is a frantic and wild one, busting with energy and flashing guitar work. There's a lot going on and plenty of new things to pick up on repeated listens.
The Biarritz Boys - Enjoy the hip, slick, ultra-violent and super sexy surfsound of... (2012)
This album with its obnoxiously long-winded name is redeemed by song after song of energetic, exciting songwriting. Despite mostly traditional tones, they sprint by at a speed often reserved for more punk-influenced groups. Not a single dud on the record.
I don't want to spoil how this list will end up, but upwards in the ranks you might find an album by The Tomorrowmen, a band that adds spacey psychedelic layering to surf sounds. Not quite in a Man or Astro-Man way. Wanglen is a lesser-known album that could happily sit alongside Tomorrowmen's material. It's a thrilling album full of ideas that plays with sounds in a way that extends to feelings rarely felt in surf.
The Kahuna Kings - Who Wants to Party with the Kahuna Kings? (2017)
I would like to party with The Kahuna Kings. Drenched in reverb with a fun and bright tone, while a driving drum beat keeps things in motion. They keep it simple, never a bad thing in surf, and each track is fun.
Great melodies, a sound with some serious bite, and some moments that will knock you flat. This is one of those albums where the band truly feels like they were trying to outdo themselves. There's a few vocal tracks, but the instrumentals behind them are still pretty surfy.
This band has had some of the most genuinely creepy songs in all of horror surf. That wasn't necessarily the focus on this one, which has a raw and nasty edge to it. It roars with anger and ill will, and pulsates with a savage beat.
Brazil's Gasolines have been doing it differently for over 20 years, and with Jungle Surfers they incorporate chicha, reggae, exotica and other, well, jungly influences. It's a refreshing and fun listen that show's surf's flexibility.
Where else to find faithful trad surf than Iceland? Fiberglass Frenzy is an excellent balance between great tone, adventurous emotions and memorable melodies.
Eta Carinae is one of my personal favorite songs of the decade, never failing to give me goosebumps mid-way through the song. Great traditional surf tone but with a penchant for serious power.
The 'Verb - Only 'Verb Can Break Your Heart (2013)
The 'Verb aren't so much about just a lead guitar melody, but a swirling accompaniment of sound at high, mid and low. A band that can not only work up a cacophony, but maintain an atmosphere.
This was the moment Genki Genki Panic truly found their footing and showed us something unlike anything anybody was making. A fantastic blend of roaring horror surf, metal, and soundtrack composers like Danny Elfman.
Not many bands really nail the 60s sound, but the Kanaloas do an amazing job. Just lo-fi enough with great riffs and delightfully simple songwriting. It's the stuff we're all trying to get back to.
These legends of Florida are pitch-perfect here, with nimble and speedy guitar work whipping at a frenzied pace. It feels like everything they try lands in just the right spot, and it's a wild ride from start to finish.
Perhaps the closest a modern band has come to channeling Joe Meek. A fantastic record with faithful takes on vintage sounds less frequently mimicked.
Ferocious aftershocks from the Alabama crater that Man or Astro-Man made. Their 2013 LP Corridor X was a wild ride, but this anthology includes that and their even heavier subsequent singles.
The Good The Bad - 018-033 (2010)
All three releases from this group were great, but their second record balances the proud riffs from the first record and the shifty shake of the third. A truly unique sounding group.
That's it for now! Stay tuned for #80-61 in Two Weeks!