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Review: The Ventures: Stars on Guitars Documentary

The Ventures: Stars on Guitars

Last year there was an unfortunate collision of interests for instrumental music fans: two documentaries on The Ventures, each seeking crowdfunding at the same time. Stars on Guitars appeared to have suffered more from that conflict, raising considerably less than Walk Don't Run with roughly a third as many donors. However, this clearly didn't shake the team for Stars on Guitars, as their film readies for release while appears to be looking at 2021 at the earliest. I certainly didn't expect to see this film so soon, but the result feels quite full, fun, and perhaps more exciting for surf music fans than they might expect!

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Surf-a-Tomica - Auténtico del Líbano

Surf-a-Tomica -  Auténtico del Líbano

Surf-a-Tomica made their debut earlier this year with a full of great guitar lines and a great, punchy beat. Did they know they were going to release another 7 songs within the same year? While a full album would have suited them well, they took a good formula and made it great here.

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The Tourmaliners - Tourmaline Dream

The Tourmaliners - Tourmaline Dream

The Tourmaliners (named after Tourmaline Beach) are billed as a 60’s throwback band, but I suspect this like likely designated for gigs around town. For us picky surf fans, I hear a throwback to an unexpected time: 2nd wave surf! If I were to listen without context, I’d pin them right square at 1990, particularly with the reverbed drum treatment, and flavor of the reverb altogether. In fact, if you want a good frame of reference I’d point you to The Pixies’ version of “Cecilia Ann” off their 1990 album Bossanova. It’s not entirely a matter of production though: “Adios Saladita” and “Stellular” evoke Mermen and “Green Pipe” has a light ska/reggae intro. The Tourmaliners absolutely don’t tunnel-vision their sound to the surf golden age, there’s clearly a lot of other influences at play, though don’t expect Man or Astro-Man to be found anywhere inside.

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Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - Studio 37

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - Studio 37

Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited would be one of the best at their genre if they didn’t feel like their own genre. If each LPs sounds similar to the last, I believe that’s OK because nobody else sounds like them and that sound has been pretty tightly designed since LP1.

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The A-Men - Let's Fly to Mars

The A-Men - Let's Fly to Mars

Let's Fly to Mars is a high-profile, long-term, cross-continental collaboration between Jeremy DeHart known primarily from The Aqualads, El Firetone from El Ray, Dr. Boris  from Messer Chups, and Dane Carter from The Madeira. Jeremy lays out the story in detail in that I would highly recommend reading.

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Black Valley Moon - The Baleful Sounds of...

Black Valley Moon - The Baleful Sounds of...

The Sharawaji Records roster has been growing steadily and adding more high-profile releases. They recently grabbed some attention for the upcoming Chewbacca’s record, but meanwhile this little gem snuck under the radar. Black Valley Moon features the guitarist from Epitaph punk band Down By Law, but they do a great job of carving out a unique surf that feels accomplished and comfortable within the genre.

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Beach Moonsters - Wild Surf Power EP

Beach Moonsters - Wild Surf Power

I don’t know much about French surf power trio Beach Moonsters but they quickly had me thinking of another prominent French group: Hawaii Samurai. They’re tastefully clipped to sound loud, play fast, and generally keep it pretty stupid and fun. There’s one slower one “Before the Death of the Gringo”, but it’s by no means any softer. It’s hard to find much to say here, if power surf is your thing, I think your interest will be piqued.

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