Gremmy Awards

Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Album Art

Gremmy Awards 2021: Best Album Art

Album art is important. Bad album art can negatively affect a listener's opinion going in, and good album art can inform how to approach the album, what imagery they can conjure in their head. I think this especially important in instrumental music, where so much is left to interpretation without lyrics to guide you. Here are some records that stood out to me before I even listened to them.

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Introducing the 2021 Gremmy Awards.

Gremmy Awards 2021

Despite the world grinding to a halt, 2020 proved to be a surprisingly fruitful year for surf. And just like 2021 ended up not being as different from 2020 as we'd hoped, 2021 compared similarly to the previous year's bountiful instrumental outlet. But there are other things that may not be remembered from the recordings. For instance, surf music once again was played live in countries across the globe. Though most of the larger festivals were again delayed, some surf festivals resumed!

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Here's every surf/instro release from 2021 that I could find.

2021

The state of the surf is strong! This was another big year for surf music both in quality and quantity. These year-end lists are an attempt to convey this in at least some quantitative fashion. Clearly another year of turmoil and disease didn't keep people from making music, and thankfully this year we started to get back to performing live!

A few things you should know about this list:

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Guest Gremmys

Gremmy Awards are hard. I often don't agree with them a year later, there are records that I inevitably overlook or great albums that just don't find a place. Thankfully, I've met a bunch of friends over the years that I know are listening to plenty of new surf releases, and so I ask them for their favorites so that you can have some opinions other than my own terrible ones. I give them cart blanche as to how they want to write them up, so this may be a little disjointed, but I think it's fun that way.

Huge thanks to everybody that contributed! Parts in italics are my own introductions.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Rest of the Best

Gremmy Awards 2020: Rest of the Best

Every year there are a few other things that I think are worth mentioning or commemorating other than just some good albums. Some of these categories appear every year, some disappear, it's really kind of up to my whim.

I didn't include Gremmy Award .png files because there would be too many of them. Feel free to contact me if you'd like your image.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best "Mad" Instro Record

Best Mad Instro

This is the category for bands that skirt the edge of what would be considered surf, either intentionally or by chance. This was another category this year where there was an abundance of good stuff, moreso than usual. Could it be that surf groups are trending in a more adventurous direction? Or maybe instrumental groups are gaining in popularity. I think it's both! Anyway, here's my pick of standouts.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best "Rad" Surf Record

Best Rad Surf Record

Full steam ahead, this category is for groups that prioritze noise, speed, and power in their instrumental music. They often take influence from punk groups, they're often simple and lo-fi, and in spirit sometimes I think they're closer to what teens in the 60's wanted to do.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Modern Surf Record

Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Modern Surf Record

This category is for surf groups that don't feel like they need to closely imitate the sounds of yesteryear, who carve out their own sound and identity. I don't know if I've ever crammed this category with so many records as this year -- and this is after several difficult cuts. Maybe I need to be more ruthless, or maybe there was just so much to love. I like to think it's the latter. Here are what I consider to be the cream of the crop for 2020.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Trad Surf Record

Best Trad Surf

These days garage bands with a little bit of reverb on their vocals are called surf bands. Thankfully, there are still plenty of excellent groups out there that know what surf really sounds like. The following bands aren't aiming to reinvent anything, they're all about making great instrumentals with that irresistable sound cooked up in the 1960s.

This was a good year for trad surf groups and an interesting one. Most of the groups below are sort of rising stars of the scene who made their initial appearance only in recent years, without much presence from the more legendary 90's era groups. Here are what I believe to be the standouts.

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Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Album Art

Gremmy Awards 2020: Best Album Art

Welcome to the first, most irrelevant round of the Gremmy Awards. Album Art matters. Without listening it gives you an idea of what an album might sound like, the effort put in, and even though it shouldn't, it usually does have some say in whether or not you end up listening to it. Even when listening to the final product, it can guide the mindset that you listen in.

Here are several picks from this year that really stood out.

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