Album Reviews

On this page you will find reviews of:

 

3 Ball Of Fire - Best Of The Balls

'63 Burnout - Trouble at the Speedway

A

Alwaro Negro - Clean!

An Evening In Nivram - The Music Of The Shadows

B

The Bambi Molesters - Dumb Loud Hollow Twang

The Bambi Molesters - Intensity

The Bambi Moletsers - As the Dark Wave Swells

The Bambi Moletsers - A Night In Zagreb

Dougie Barron - Surf Trax

The Beat Tornados - Pole Positions

Beyond the Sea

The Bitch Boys - Ride The First Wave

The Blue Hawaiians - Live at the Lava Lounge

The Blue Hawaiians - Sway

The Bradipos IV - Instro Mania

The Bradipos IV - Surf Session

C

Cosmonauti - Just Surf

Cowabunga The Surf Box

D

The Deadlies - Meet The Deadlies

Dead Man's Curve - World Catastrophe Generator

The Doggs - Black Love

E

El Ray - Chasing Ray

Estrume'n'tal - Neander'n'tal

FG

Further Beyond the Sea

Glamour Puss

The Good The Bad - "From 18 to 33"

HI

Hell-o-Tiki - Attack of Lady Octopussy

The Illuminoids - Secret Society of Surf Guitar

The Imperials - Not For Sale

The Incredible Mr Smith - Adventures in the Land of Twang

Instramentaclees - Switchblade

J

The Jaguar Sharks - The Jaguar Sharks

Alan Jenkins - Free Surf Music #1

Alan Jenkins - Free Surf Music #2

Alan Jenkins and the Thurston Lava Tube - Free Surf Music #3s

Jon and the Nightriders - Fiberglass Rocket

Jon and the Nightriders - Surf Beat '80

K

The Knights - Surfin' The Web

The Knights - Surfin' the Southwest, Santa Fe Style

L

Langhorns - Langhorns

Langhorns - Club Gabardino

Las Patatas Bravas - Hot Sauce Surfadelia

Michael Lindner - Cocktail Napkin

The Lively Ones - The Best Of The Lively Ones

Long Boards - Big Surf

Long Boards - Motorhythm

Los Fantasticos - Cesare Gorgeous Presents... Return Of The Leopard Man

Los Fantasticos - Los Fantasticos

Lost Acapulco - Acapulco Golden

Lost At Sea

Los Tiki Phantoms - Regressa La Tumba

M

 

The Madeira - Carpe Noctem

Joe Meek: Intergalactic Instro's

Melenhead

The Mermen - The Amazing California Health And Hapiness Road Show

The Missing Chord

Mister Neutron - Red Triangle

The Mulchmen - Louder Than Dirt, Thicker Than Mud

The Mulchmen - Greetings From Planet Stupider

Musique Instrumentale And Other Attrocities

Dave Myers and the Surf-Tones - The Best Of Dave Myers and the Surf-Tones 

Pollo Del Mar - The Ocean Is Not For Cowards

N

The Nematoads - Spy Car Mechanic

The Nematoads - Five Guns West

No Approval Needed Volume 4

OP

The Phantom Four - Madhur

Plantagenet 3 - Plantagenet 3

The Plungers - The Band That Time Forgot

The Preston Wayne Four - Themes From Wayne Manor

 

QR

The Razorblades - The Dark Side of the Beach

The Razorblades - Twang Machine

The Razorblades - Gimme Some Noise

The Reckless Reefers - Over The Edge

The Reverb Syndicate - Mondo Cacti

The Reventlos - Essential Reventlos

The Reventlos - Songs Of The Golden West

Rover - Surf Meets Che Guevara

S

The Sentinels - The Best Of The Sentinals

The Sidemen - Go Too Far

Slacktone

The Space Agency - Galactic Guitars

The Space Cossacks - Interstellar Stomp

The Space Cossacks - Tsar Wars

Spookey - Spookey Cat

Stevie and his Sideburns/Pozor Vlak - Fuzz'n'Surf Records Prasentiert

The Sunmakers - Viens Twister Ce Soir

The Supertones - Cinema Surf

The Surf Breed - Surfariland

The Surf Creatures - X50

The Surfdusters - Surf After Dark

Surfin' Lungs - Hang Loose With The Surfin' Lungs

The Surfin' Lungs - Splash Back

Surfin' Lungs - Surf Drags & Rock 'N' Roll

Surfin' Lungs - Full Petal Jacket

Surfin' Sundays

Surf Monsters

Da Surfones

The Surf Set

Surf's Up

T

Archie Thompson - The Legend of Johnny Surf

The Thurston Lava Tube - The Pink Elephant With Nipples For Tusks

The Thurston Lava Tube - The Thoughtful Sounds Of Bat Smuggling

The Thurston Lava Tube - Year Of The Dog

George Tomsco of The Fireballs - Har Lee Guitar

The Tornadoes - Now And Then

The Tornadoes - Charge Of The Tornadoes

The Trabants - Highwire Surfing

Los Twang Marvels - Guitars In Orbits

Los Twang Marvels - Pruebo De Fuego

UV

The Vara-tones - Jetty Subject to High Surf

The Vara-tones - Heading Out

The Vara-Tones - Have Yourself a "Vara" Merry Christmas

The Veterans - The Veterans

The Vibrants - The Exotic Guitar Sounds Of...

Vibrasonic - Instrumental Vibrations

Vivisectors - Case History Of John Doe

W

Way Out West

Link Wray - Shadowman

XYZ

Ziggy Played Surf Guitar

 

 

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Surf's Up

Music Club

Featuring 30 tracks from American label Del-Fi, nearly all of them instrumentals. Plenty of stuff from The Lively Ones (including versions of Wipeout, Sleep Walk and Misirlou, as well as Surf Rider, which plays over the closing credits of Pulp Fiction), Bullwinkle (Part 2), from The Centurians and several classics from The Bobby (I Fought The Law) Fuller Four. Well worth checking out.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Surf Set

Sequel Records

A Triple cd collection, with only eleven instrumentals (Misirlou, Pipeline, Wipeout, Penetration, to name a few), but loads of great vocal Surf as well. Particular favourites are The Tradewinds' New York's A Lonely Town (When You're The Only Surfer Boy) and The Rip Chords' This Little Woodie. There's also plenty from the obvious people, Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys, The Surfaris et al.

Jon Deadman

 

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Cowabunga The Surf Box

Rhino

If you only buy one Surf collection, buy this one. A four cd set, beautifully packaged in a box which looks like a surf board and complete with a superbly illustrated booklet, with extensive and brilliant notes from John Blair of Jon and the Nightriders. This may not contain every essential Surf number, but it must come damn close. It covers over thirty years of the genre - cd 1 is 1960-1963, cd 2 is 1963, cd3 is 1963-1967 and cd 4 is 1977-1995. Essential.

Jon Deadman

 

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Joe Meek: Intergalactic Instro's

RGM

So what was the first British record to go to number one in the states? The Beatles? The Stones? No, it was Telstar, by The Tornados, written and produced by the late, great Joe Meek in his home studio on the Holloway Road. Now, Joe Meek was not only a technological genius, but (allegedly) a drinking partner of our very own Cesare Gorgeous - and so worthy of mention here. This great compilation features a rather ropey live recording of Telstar and two other Tornados numbers, along with a truly weird recording of Joe Meek humming the melody of Telstar over the backing track of a tune called Try Once More. Also to be found are the fabulous Night Of The Vampire and several others from The Moontrekkers (who apparently had some connection with Rod Stewart!), Green Jeans (a re-working of Greensleeves) from the Fabulous Flee-Rakkers and many other gems. All feature Joe Meek's trademark weird little sounds and while it isn't proper surf music, it's certainly well worth tracking down. Great early 60's instrumental music wasn't only made in California (but also on the Holloway Road) and this compilation helps to prove that.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Missing Chord

Snatch Records

Well, it had to happen sooner or later - an album that showcases the brightest and best of the UK's surf bands. And what a scorcher it is. On his 'The Missing Chord' cd Howard Raucous brings us the cream of British reverb, together with quite a few other goodies.This isn't really a 'surf' album as such - there's a fair bit of rockabilly raunch mixed in too - but to my mind this makes for a damn tastey recipe.

I'm (nearly) lost for words about the numbers on this album. There's just so many highlights I'm not sure where to start. There's a couple of great cuts from Canadian garage surf meisters Huevos Rancheros and Los Meltones, but (he says with a patriotic flourish) it was the UK bands that really got me jumping. 'Charlie's Point' by Dead Man's Curve is one helluva number - with crashing guitars and vicious drumming bursting out all over. Just amazing. Make sure you play this one at '11' on yer volume control, the neighbours will love you forever. Following quick on their heels comes the Surf Creatures' now classic single 'Toxic Beach' - a fast and ferocious ditty from the Cornish (you had to be at the Brighton gig) surf demons. Boyzone... woops! I mean Los Nachos also do themselves proud. 'Blue Stratos' is one of my live favourites and this version is inspired. When I close my eyes I could swear I was sitting in my Aston Martin D B 5, sipping a dry martini and swopping sweet nothings with Ursula Andress. Guys, I'm just not going to rest until you've brought out a whole album. Or several. Ok, maybe I'm biased because the Surfin' Lungs are mates of mine, but I reckon their 'Vostock 1' has got to be one of the surf gems of the year. Man or Astronman? meets Boris Yeltsin. Well, sort of. But it's outstanding...just outstanding.

I'm beginning to run out of superlatives, but I can't go without mentioning a few more of the great tracks on this brilliant cd. Surftrek bring us an enigmatic spaghetti-spy-surf (don't pretend you don't know what I mean) number with 'Deathwave Theme', while the Interceptors kick in with their 'Electric Pineapple' - a 1000 volt rocker if ever I've heard one. Oh yeah, and I can't forget The Sandblasters' 'Body Bag' which is Link-esque in its rumbling intensity.

Overall this album rates a 9+ out of 10 on my seismic surf scale. It's a great introduction to the UK surf scene and I'm sure it'll be a treasured addition to any Cowabungan collection. It may be hard to track down in the States, but it's worth the effort - and I'd imagine that you'd be able to get it direct from Raucous Records in the UK.

Billy Ramone

 

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An Evening In Nivram - The Music Of The Shadows

MuSick Recordings

I think that I’ve always been aware of the sound of Hank Marvin’s guitar. I was born at the beginning of the 1960’s and don’t remember the first time I ever heard Hank and The Shadows, it was just one of those sounds which I knew. The term "that peerless tone" was coined to describe the sound of Miles Davis’ trumpet, but could equally be applied to Hank Marvin’s guitar.

Many people look at you slightly askance if you tell them that you like The Shadows, or that you consider Hank Marvin to be a genius (which I do): they know that The Shads were Cliff Richard’s backing band and don’t really want to know much else. But somehow, without ever being a huge fan, without ever collecting their records, I knew about the fabulous electric guitar sound of The Shadows’ instrumentals (in much the same way that I was never a huge fan of The Beatles, don’t own a single Beatles record, but know their music). Even in the punk days, when my musical tastes were formed, I maintained a love of that sound and, I guess, it’s this which forms the basis for my love of instrumental music. Later, of course, I discovered that Hank was the first musician in Britain to own a Fender Stratocaster, that he used a Vox AC30 amplifier and a Watkins Copycat tape echo: and I just loved him more (always overlooking some of those terrible records he made in the 1980’s).

Well, finally, the Americans have caught on. What a pleasure to say that! I guess that Stateside surf musicians often have a secret laugh up their sleeves at the thought of Brits being influenced by Dick Dale or The Surfaris; now we can laugh at the idea of them being influenced by our own Shadows.

My God, though, on this tribute album, they do a damn fine job. I emailed Art from MuSick yesterday to tell him that this was one of the best albums I’d heard in a while. Since then I’ve had some time for sober reflection and, damn me, it still is.

Sixteen artists tackle sixteen Shadows tunes (including one vocal, of which more later). Many of them are well known hits, some are more obscure (b-sides and the like), nearly every one of them is wonderful.

The album kicks off with Main Theme by The Omega Men, redolent of 60’s coffee bar ambience, brimming with Hammond organ stylings. Next up is Apache, from The Falcons. This is one of the great tunes and they handle it well, adding, if I’m not mistaken, a few bits of Fender VI, an instrument which also features on The Huntington Cads’ take on Gonzales.

The next three tracks are outstanding: The Aqua Velvets plump for Atlantis, which has simply one of the most beautiful openings of any song ever (and a delicious string arrangement), while the Fathoms bring you Man Of Mystery, one of the great spy tunes. Ivan Pongracic, of The Space Cossacks, is a lifelong Shadows fan (his father, Ivan senior, played in a 60’s Shadows covers band in Croatia) and was much involved in the compilation of this album (he also wrote the excellent sleeve notes). The Cossacks are next in line with a, erm, savage rendition of The Savage, owing much to The Ventures’ version (which I have only heard once, but which I remember being much more full-on than The Shadows’ version) - a real stormer.

Now, HangNine is supposed to be devoted to instrumental music and one of The Boss Martians recently threatened to come over here and beat up my mate Johnny over something he posted to Cowabunga, so I shouldn’t review the album’s only vocal number, Don’t It Make You Feel Good? Trouble is, it’s fantastic: a great version of a great song, which I’d never heard before, so a real treat for me. For you too, I guess.

Next are a couple of oddities, The Troubadours (featuring Pongracic père et fils) on The Lute Number (which, sadly, does not feature a lute, but a classical guitar - something akin to Greensleeves) and Evening Comes, from The Alohas, a Hank Marvin solo number, which here features heavy use of steel guitars.

The Tiki Tones follow with, Tomorrow’s Cancelled, not my favourite, but featuring a nice "ba ba ba ba" backing vocal and some vibes. Next is Davie Allan, who I’ll mention later, before The Travellers Of Tyme give us a Theremin-featuring Maroc 7 - very strange!

Satan’s Pilgrims, The Deoras (featuring Mike Palm of Agent Orange) and the near-legendary Teisco Del Ray weigh in with, respectively, The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Blunt, Zambesi and Theme For Young Lovers (each of these an excellent version of a well known and popular tune), while the album ends with a multi-instrumental Back Home, from Jim Mankey (who, apparently, was once in Sparks!).

So, a cool collection of great tunes, played really well. One track, though, makes my heart leap and want to take flight. While many of the other acts here seem to believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Davie Allan and the Arrows know something different. Tales Of A Raggy Tramline is amazing - Davie makes no attempt to sound like Hank Marvin, after all, he is the King of the Fuzzzzzz guitar and we’d be disappointed if he didn’t fuzz out. This sounds exactly the way I used to imagine that music should sound, simply brilliant.

Do anything you can to get hold of a copy of An Evening In Nivram, including shoplifting, if necessary.

Jon Deadman

 

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Surfin' Sundays

Golden Sand Records

This album is brought to us by the Huntingdon Beach International Surfing Museum, the only international surfing museum in the world and, since 1995 a regular venue for surf bands on a Sunday afternoon - hence the album's title.

The album features many of our favourites: Slacktone, Pollo Del Mar, Davie Allan and the Arrows, The Reventlos and Jon and the Nightriders. There's also a (for me) first chance to hear the likes of The Surf Kings (every bit as good as Johnny Deadman told me), Kelp, The Insect Surfers, Brazil 2001 and the world's only all-girl instrumental surf band - The Neptunas.

All in all a great album and in support of a worthy cause.

Jon Deadman

 

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No Approval Needed Volume 4

Broken Note

The arrival of this album brough me a great surprise: the back cover shows a photograph of my mate Tony Perretta and the legend "Crazy Tony on top of the World Trade Center, New York City". Of course, it isn't my mate Tony Perretta, but it looks bloody like him!

What of the music, though? Well, some familiar bands here: Drifter (a rousing El Gato Nuevo kicks off the proceedings), The Sub Mersians (Spanish Feeling doesn't feel very, well..um...Spanish to me, but damn good all the same), Squid Vicious (Deadwood - a bit more surf than other songs I've heard - definitely a good one, especially when it speeds up in the middle, then slows down again, then speeds up again - oh, you get the idea!), The Mill Valley Taters (History of Rock and Roll) and Agent Raygun (neat organ driving along Wasitu, my favourite track, I think). Sullivan and Neal of The Mill Valley Taters also feature in their own rights, with Scene of the Chrome and Big Daddy respectively.

It's always nice to get a compilation - something on it is always good and it's a good way of catching up on those bands you've heard of, but not heard. This one isn't all surf (Mayhem Brew's Sour Pussy is a funk workout!) and it's not even all instrumental, but it's well worth seeking out if you can.

Jon Deadman

 

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Surf Monsters

Del-Fi

Instro compilation of the year and no mistake. Surf Monsters features an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary surf (in the broadest sense) music and, it should be added, not a bad track amongst them.

Some of the old stuff was immediately familiar to me; Bullwinkle Part II from The Centurians, The Lively One's version of Miserlou and Surf Rider, Dave Myers and the Surftones' Church Key. The new material features many of our favourite bands here at HangNine; The Space Cossacks contribute The Apes of Wrath, Man or Astroman? offer up Flotation Devices For Frequencies Yet To Be Detected, Huevos Rancheros add a storming Beach Blanket Blackout, while probably my favourite (and certainly the oddest) is Island of the Lost Soul, from The Tiki Tones.

What is so striking about this collection is just how comfortably the old and the new sit side by side. The old material is all played with terrific gusto and recorded loudly, making it seem quite modern in itself. The newer acts may not all play strict trad surf, but every one of them has the spirit of the music in their blood and it would be hard to tell old and new apart on a blind (deaf?) listening.

If you can, buy this fantastic album.

Jon Deadman

 

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Jon and the Nightriders - Fiberglass Rocket

Atomic Beat

Back in the late 1970’s, John Blair and his buddies decided that surf music had been dead for too long and that the time was ripe for breathing some life back into it. Thus began the "second wave" and the rest is…well…history.

Thankfully the emergence of the "third wave" inspired John to reform the Nightriders and Fiberglass Rocket is the first album of that reformation. It’s a mighty fine thing too - opening with the surf-trademark "brooowwwmmmm" slide down the e-string and launching into Depth Charge, which is terrific.

John Blair is an outstanding guitar player and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre and both of these things are pretty apparent here. The Nightriders have a classic surf sound, somewhat beefed up by the powerhouse drumming of Dusty Watson. Paul Johnson of the Belairs plays guitar on two numbers (his own Night Patrol and Spindrift, written together with John Blair).

Other highlights include Amor Del Mar, featuring Maliboo John Zambetti on Fender electric 12-string, the lilting Moon Tide, (The Waves Of) Lunada Bay and stunning version of Apache, for which Dave Wronski takes over lead guitar duties - the album would be worth buying for this track alone.

Jon Deadman

 

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Slacktone

Go Boy Records

Two of the Nightriders, Dave Wronski and Dusty Watson are also members of Slacktone and you might expect their debut album to sound much like Fiberglass Rocket, but it doesn’t.

Sure, this is obviously instrumental surf music, but in a somewhat less trad vein.

The opening track, Tidal Wave, begins with the longest guitar glissando you could imagine, backed up with thundering drums. Dave’s hand must be hanging by a thread at the end of this double picking mayhem, while Dusty’s drum skins must be aching - God he hits them so hard!!

PCH follows in similar style, except that it also reminds me of The Third Man and Zorba The Greek, while Skateboard Commando and Mysterioso keep up the aural assault.

It’s not all balls out rocking, mind you. Goldfinger (yes, THAT Goldfinger) is very delicate, while Dusty actually uses brushes (!!!) on Reflection: Life of a Lemming (he still hits the drums hard with them, though), which also features some nice violining from Mr. Wronski, never afraid to try something a little un-surf. Rosarito 3-Day sounds like The Shadows (hooray!!) and Nocturne approaches the forlorn sound summoned up by Ry Cooder for the Paris Texas soundtrack .

More rockers follow with Chaos (which actually has some quiet passages amongst the..um..chaos) a particular favourite, before the album closes with the Hawaiian stylings of Gung Ho For Don Ho.

This is an album of great modern surf sounds, which you should hunt down if at all possible.

Jon Deadman

 

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Surfin’ Lungs - Hang Loose With The Surfin’ Lungs

No Tomorrow

This album was number 1 for one week in Barcelona last year (The Spice Girls were number 2!!) and, we’re informed, will soon have distribution in the UK.

The Surfin’ Lungs are not an instrumental band (although their instrumentals are excellent, check Vostock 1 on this album), but they’ve been playing vocal surf music since the early 1980’s and we at HangNinelove them, so they get a review anyway.

Someone once described this band to me as the exact mid-point between The Beach Boys and The Ramones - what more could anyone ask? Well, how about loads of songs about girls, beaches, girls, surfing and…girls!!! That basically sums up the approach of The Surfin’ Lungs to lyric writing - and what better subjects could there be?

My favourite has to be Dead Head, for its venomous wit ("You don’t have to be around to bring everybody down/You can kill a party from the far side of town"), but there’s real beauty on Redondo Moon, and fun by the bucketload (Summer Starts Here, Another Summer, Another Girl, I Don’t Wanna Ride That Rollercoaster).

If we all concentrate hard, maybe The Surfin’ Lungs can relegate The Spice Girls to number 2 in the UK charts too. All together now…

Jon Deadman

 

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Link Wray - Shadowman

Ace

This, or so the sleeve notes would have us believe, is "the most complete Link Wray album in years". Well, in that case it will be good, won’t it? Correct, it is.

Link treats us to a mixture of his trademark instrumental menace and some pretty good one-lunged vocals. Rumble on the Docks is (surprise, surprise) a retread of the old Rumble theme (no bad thing), Geronimo is I’m Branded, played with some heavy duty vibrato effect, while Raw-Hide has become Timewarp/Strider. Other instrumental highlights are Moped Baby, Night Prowler and Shadowman itself.

The songs include Heartbreak Hotel, Listen to the Drums and a fabulous I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You (Dick Dale recently quoted Hank Williams as an influence - maybe we should have a HangNine item on him - what do you think?), always one of my favourite songs.

The band, Eric Greevers and Rob Louwers, are powerful and full of energy, while Link himself is every bit as menacing as ever. Not many 68 year olds can wring so much out of a guitar (neither can many people of any age, come to think of it). We’re lucky to still have Link Wray in this form.

Jon Deadman

 

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Vibrasonic - Instrumental Vibrations

Yep!

I first saw Vibrasonic a couple of years back, supporting Dick Dale at The Garage: they were very good. The next I heard was that they may not play at last year’s Brighton surf-fest, since they were on the verge of splitting up, due to an internal dispute about whether they should be a surf band or a psychedelic band - in the event they did play: they were very good again.

Instrumental Vibrations is the second album from Brighton’s Vibrasonic and it too is very good. And it seems that they never really settled that dispute, because this is most certainly a psychedelic surf band!! All the surf tricks are there: cavernous reverb, guitar glissandos, palm-muting and double picking, but married most effectively to sitars, backwards guitar effects and other assorted psychedelia.

Some of the songs do seem to meander a little, but the overall effect is a good one and these guys certainly can play. Particularly satisfying is the Miserlou-esque take on If I Were A Rich Man (I kid you not!), while Blue Tremolo also stands out.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Surf Creatures - X50

Alopecia

The Surf Creatures seem to provoke strong feelings; people either love them or hate them. Some of my friends fall firmly into the latter category, I fall just as firmly into the former.

Live, frontman, Rapido Turismo Lusso (bastard son of Hank Marvin!), adopts an obnoxious punk attitude to the audience (as well as a phoney American accent), which seems to rile some people - to me it always seems like a fun part of the show. On their debut album, though, there is none of that, just lashings and lashings of ferocious double-picked, reverb-soaked (most of this album sounds like it was recorded in an aircraft hanger - huge!) instrumental savagery. Let it be said that Rapido is the King of the UK Surf Guitar and he demonstrates the fact on every one of X50’s tracks.

Another of The Surf Creatures’ live tricks is to punctuate the set with sampled voices and sound effects - this they do repeat on the album. My favourite? "I’ve always been fascinated by that phrase, ‘Life as we know it’, I have a feeling that we may encounter life as we don’t know it." It’s a neat way of solving the, "What do people focus on when there’s no singer?" problem, although there’s plenty here to hold the attention without the gimmicks.

I’ve heard rumours of The Surf Creatures breaking up, which I hope are untrue, because this is one band that everyone should see - an excellent debut album.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Mulchmen - Louder Than Dirt, Thicker Than Mud

Big Beef Records

The Mulchmen hail from Dayton Ohio and their press release namechecks Link Wray, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy and Man or Astroman? as influences (I would add The Pixies - check out Frank). Well the influences are there alright, but The Mulchmen have come up with a highly original sound all of their own.

Nick Kizirnis’ guitar playing nods towards surf at times, but is generally a little more out of kilter, although the spirit is certainly there, particularly on a tracks such as Flippin’ Out and Chiwahwah. Bonfire Serenade is a beautiful Nouveau-Western thing, while A Man With No Reverb Is No Man At All wins my nomination for the greatest title of the year.

There is also an unusual take on Link Wray’s Rumble - Rumble 3000, with the lead taken by a theremin.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Blue Hawaiians - Live at the Lava Lounge

Pascal Records

This album was actually released in 1995, but we’ve been sent a free copy to review, so we’ll review it (a hint for all aspiring bands, we’ll review anything that didn’t cost us money - if you send us cash, a good review is guaranteed!).

What appears to be the entire audience at the gig where this was recorded are mentioned on the sleeve, which is a nice idea, though not so easy to repeat when you are filling places much larger than The Lava Lounge.

The album features a bunch of covers, proving, if nothing else, what fine record collections these guys have: there’s a strangely muted Pipeline, Apache (you can’t go wrong playing this one), Tom Waits’ Jockey Full of Bourbon (yes, they sing too!), Duke Ellington’s Caravan (another great choice), Baja, Theme For Young Lovers and Jet Black (both Shadows originals), Link Wray’s (hey, that guy gets everywhere) Jack The Ripper and The Ventures’ Dick Tracey. They play most of these pretty damn well too and there are some really nice bits of lap steel playing, to keep those of us happy who like that type of thing.

All of this goes to make for a highly enjoyable album. My only complaint would be that the whole thing seems perhaps a little too studied, although there are moments, most notably during Jack The Ripper, where they really begin to let go.

Jon Deadman

 

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Pollo Del Mar - The Ocean Is Not For Cowards

Pop

This album was the cause (inadvertantly, it must be said) of a recent flame war on Cowabunga, when Teddie James of Squid Vicious claimed that Pollo Del Mar and several other bands were taking surf music forward into the 21st Century. Now, some people took exception to this on the grounds that surf music should stay firmly rooted in the 1960's, where, or so they believe, it belongs. But it wasn't only the trad-surf brigade who objected - you see, one of the bands in Teddie's list was his own Squid Vicious!

Whatever! There is no doubt, though, that this is a fascinating album. Pollo Del Mar (Chicken of the Sea!) are an eclectic bunch. They certainly sound like an instrumental surf band - just check out the twang of the opener, Teleport '61, the slightly Western sounding Playa Pistola, the gorgeous The Blue Rider, or To Surf, With Love. They certainly can sound like a whole lot of other things too, though.

I remember my Deadman buddy, Johhnny, who saw them in California last year, telling me that Pollo Del Mar were a surf band who suddenly went off at tangents, mid-song, breaking into jazz and who knows what? In fact, guitarist Ferenc Dobronyi complained about the jazz comparison during the Cowabunga flame war and, sure enough, there are not many numbers on The Ocean Is Not For Cowards which I would exactly describe as being jazzy (despite Jefferson Turner's fretless bass).

They do love those tangents, though. Frequently a tune will start in one vein, before lurching in a completely different direction (and quite likely time signature or tempo). At times the closest comparison I can find is the prog-rock of a band like early 70's Italians PFM, although Pollo Del Mar (PDM?) generally manage to stay just far enough to the right side of tuneful to hold my attention.

Trad-Surf it ain't (the sleeve is labelled "File Under: Surf, Modern," so no doubts there then), but it seems that many of the newest wave of "surf" bands ain't exactly Trad-Surf either (I recently discussed with StratoCossack, of the Space Cossacks, how both of our forthcoming albums weren't truly "surf," more "surf-influenced" - could be the latest trend).

So, the controversy has died down and we're left with a damn fine album. Whether it will take surf forward into the 21st Century is another matter...

Jon Deadman

 

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The Imperials - Not For Sale

Southwind Recordings

The Imperials originally formed in California in 1963 - and very cool they looked back then (check out the Mosrite-toting photo on the inside of the sleeve). They recently reformed and decided to record an album, featuring thirteen covers of surf classics (OK, The Ventures aren’t strictly surf, but you get the idea).

The problem with playing covers, for any band, is that your version will usually fare badly in comparison with the original (this is why Dick Dale’s Misirlou sounds better than almost any other version - with an honourable mention for the Bobby Fuller Four - his version sounds like the one you first heard!). There are a number of possible solutions to this problem: don’t play it like the original at all, but make it your own; play covers of tunes that only a few people have heard before; only play a handful of covers, so that your own material and sound come across as well.

The problem for The Imperials is that they have chosen to cover maybe the ten best known surf tunes of the lot and to play them pretty straight. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very enjoyable album (the sleeve notes tell us what fun the band had making it and it sounds like it). It features a great selection of your favourites, played pretty well. If you’ve never heard Wipeout, Pipeline, Walk Don’t Run, Surf Rider, Mr Moto, Misirlou…(the list goes on) before, then this album will most likely turn you on to surf music. If you have heard them before (and, since you are visiting HangNine, this is quite likely), you will probably choose to stick to the originals, simply because they are just that, original.

All of that said, it is very heartening to see musicians coming back together after such a long break and paying tribute to the music which probably got them into playing in the first place (only another fifteen years until the Jon Deadman Sex Pistols cover album!!!). Maybe the next album will feature some of their own tunes - I look forward to it.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Bambi Molesters - Dumb Loud Hollow Twang

Dirty Old Town

Album title of the year and no doubt about it!

The Bambi Molesters (band name of the year too!) hail from Croatia, which may not be the first place which comes to mind when you think about surf music, but these guys sure can play surf. The album was recorded live in a theatre, before Californian surf-guru Phil Dirt was sent the tapes to mix (hence Phil's production credit). Phil's mate, Uncle Al, then listened to the tapes, before pronouncing, "Doesn't Suck!" The result is Dumb Loud Hollow Twang.

The Bambi Molestors fall firmly into the trad-surf camp, while managing to maintain a sound and style all of their own. What we have here are fifteen originals, opening with the sprightly Wanganui (apparently the first surf number written by The Molesters - you do call them The Molesters, don't you?), which introduces us to a truly cavernous sound (presumably the Dumb Loud Hollow Twang) and is likely to have most listeners surfer-stomping around the floor.

There are plenty of other stomp-friendly moments too, my particular favourites being Hawaii Joe, which has a tremendous intro, Big Time Action, with its great double-picked main theme, and Standing On The Nose In A Stylish Manner (which has only one serious rival for song title of the year - The Mulchmen's A Man With No Reverb Is No Man At All).

Overall, though, the mood of the album is somewhat sombre (some have said "dark"). The predominant style being a rather delicate and moody counterpoint between the guitars of Dalibor Pavicic and Dinko Tomljanovich - just check out Catatonya, Point Break or Landlocked to see what I mean.

So, there you have it, a seriously auspicious debut from The Bambi Molesters, who look great into the bargain - I'm so jealous!.

And remember surf fans, The Bambi Molesters DON'T SUCK!

Jon Deadman

 

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The Space Cossacks - Interstellar Stomp

MuSick

This is probably one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the so called third wave, certainly the most eagerly awaited since last year’s debut from Slacktone. The reasons for this? Well, Ivan Pongracic, lead guitarist and leader of The Space Cossacks, has long been a regular and vocal contributor to Cowabunga, which has certainly won him many friends, but there is more to it than that. I remember reading early reports of The Cossacks on Cowabunga some time back and, even then, people were full of praise, particularly for Ivan’s guitar playing. Then, of course, there was An Evening in Nivram, the Shadows tribute, for which Ivan wrote the sleeve notes and to which The Space Cossacks contributed a wonderful version of The Savage - expectations were raised to a higher pitch still.

Well, at last, here it is and it’s a damn fine album to be sure.

The first thing that you will probably notice is the sound; beautiful rich surf tones. Then the playing will grab you; Ivan is most certainly a guitarist with fabulous technique, but the rest of The Space Cossacks (Mark English on rhythm guitar, Catherine Gray on bass and Doug Hoekstra on drums) are no slouches either and Mark and Catherine also contribute more than ably to the composition .

Then, though, you’ll notice the tunes, many of which are great indeed. They range from the sweet and beautiful (The Spy Satellite) to the ferocious (Planet Of The Apes). Much has been made of the Eastern influence in surf music (most notably Dick Dale’s Lebanese background, which inspired Misirlou), well, Ivan Pongracic hails from Croatia and the cover of Jim Messina & the Jesters' The Cossack owes much to those roots.

Other influences? Well, The Shadows, of course, although I was slightly surprised to hear less of a Hank Marvin influence in the guitar than I had expected. It is there, though, emerging every now and then, in little snippets during Neutron Sabre, Gunmetal Express, Transatlantic Orbit and Mir Rescue, for example. Another of Ivan’s well known infatuations is for Australian 60’s instrumentalists The Atlantics and their influence is all over this album, most particularly on Planet Of The Apes (reminiscent, to me, of War Of The Worlds - a version of which appears on the vinyl format, if I’m not mistaken) and in the cover of their hit Bombora.

The other influence, as you would expect, is space. Just read the titles; opening with a cover of The Nocturnes’ Third Star To The Left, the album continues through Red Sunrise, Solaris Stomp, The Spy Satellite, Planet Of The Apes, Transatlantic Orbit, Mir Rescue, The Space Victory Theme and Navajo Star. Several of these feature great space guitar playing (if you’ve heard the aforementioned War Of The Worlds, you’ll probably know what I mean), most notably The Space Victory Theme.

I tend to feel that many of the third wave bands have fallen into a trap of producing albums which contain little variation in tone (they have a great sound and they keep on using it), but The Space Cossacks have managed to avoid this; they certainly have a great sound, but they are wise enough to provide enough in the way of variation to hold our attention (Navajo Star even features an acoustic rhythm part, a nod to Bruce Welsh of The Shadows).

Jon Deadman

 

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The Reventlos - Essential Reventlo

Acetate Records 

The Reventlos certainly don’t fall into the "it all sounds the same" trap, in fact they lurch wildly to the other extreme; everything sounds different!

The Reventlos call their music "death-surf/Afro-billy" and it’s not a bad description. They also claim that surf-purists don’t quite know what to make of them; I have to say that I can see their point.

The opening tracks, Death of a Reventlo and Reventlo Hayride, put me in mind of the latter day Link Wray and had me muttering, "This is great." After that, though, it gets a little confusing; surf, heavy metal, African, more Link Wray, more heavy metal, a touch of country - they’re all there, often co-existing in the one tune. They even sing at some points (on Persephone and Over The Falls, for example).

The playing is very impressive and they make use of a large palette of sounds (including a very odd chorusing effect in Planet Reventlo). The aforementioned Over The Falls is even driven by a slap-bass, not something I ever expected to be writing about on HangNine- it’s a good song, though, reminding me for some reason of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet (without sounding remotely like them, though!).

Pass the Gow (I think I’m Chet Baker) has a great title and begins like something written by Angelo Badalamenti for Twin Peaks, before adding a wailing rock guitar lead, while Andromeda Sex Lounge puts me in mind of King Crimson’s Matte Kudasai.

The African influence is at its most obvious on Western Stars, which manages a pretty decent facsimile of King Sunny Ade (not a bad thing by any means), including the slide guitar, but minus the talking drums and with only two guitarists, instead of nine!

So, do I like this album? Well, yes, I do, although I do find the sheer breadth of influences a bit baffling at times and some of the arrangements do seem to be a little over-clever to me. However, it does remind me of lots of things that I like, so The Reventlos must be doing something right.

Will you like it? Well, not if you’re one of those purists and not if you’re looking only for surf, but if your tastes are much (and I mean MUCH) broader, then this could be for you.

Jon Deadman

 

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Da Surfones

CDr is a wonderful thing; you can produce your own album cheaply for small scale distribution, or you can produce really high quality demos to pester record company A&R people with. They’re not without their drawbacks, though; they will hold some seventy minutes of music and the temptation to put everything you have ever recorded onto them must be pretty big. I fear that Da Surfones may have fallen into this trap.

The Catalan city of Barcelona is one of my favourite places and I’m pretty well disposed towards all things associated with the place; Gaudi, Miro, the football club and, yes, Da Surfones.

This CD contains some twenty-four tracks and the best of them are damn fine. The opening tracks, Pateras en el E and Nomé Surf are mid-paced and mellow, featuring lovely palm-muted surf guitar. El Pollo (The Chicken) is more upbeat and, seemingly an homage to Link Wray’s Run Chicken Run, one of my personal favourites. Tendido 69 is lovely, all castanets and Spanish melodies and reminiscent of, I think, The Quiet Surf.

There are plenty of other good moments here too; the vaguely Western-sounding Mar Cruel, a decent enough version of Santo and Johnny’s Sleepwalk; Walking, which has an almost big band arrangement; a curiously swinging James Bond Theme.

On the down side, though, the CD is too long and features several very poorly recorded tunes (most of them live). Now, if you’re really famous, people might be prepared to shell out for your most obscure and worst recordings, but if this is the way that people first hear you, then it’s also likely to be the way that they think of you - and the versions here of Pipeline, Tequila and Surfrider don’t really do Da Surfones many favours.

Jon Deadman

 

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Glamour Puss

Another CDr, this time from Kansas City’s Glamour Puss. It’s a lively enough offering, featuring seven tracks (one, Lounge Man, is a vocal, another, Enter The Dragon, a mere twenty-five seconds in length), but surf purists are likely to be disappointed. I wouldn’t really describe this material as surf (although it does feature plenty of heavily reverbed guitar), more as a kind of instrumental heavy metal. Of course, Kansas City is nowhere near the sea (they call it the mid-coast), so that might explain why there seems to be little influence of either beach or ocean here. My favourite track is Space Race, which is mighty fine indeed.

Jon Deadman

 

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 Way Out West

Kamikaze Records

It took some time, but now it is available, the first Mini-LP by Germany´s number one Surf-Band, WAY OUT WEST. I was curious to see if the band could bring all the power they have on stage to this recording, and I have to say: they do. A fine mix of original WOW songs and some classics (but, fortunately, lacking the stuff heard too often) is found on the LP (the CD is identical but one track; a great version of Man or Astro-Man?´s "Bermuda Triangle Shorts" is replaced by "Stampede"). The classics include "The Cruel Sea" and "Penetration" (well done, guys!), the originals "Poser!" (nice!), "Evolution" (the title-track; rather experimental, with a space organ) and "Big Gun" (also with organ, a sax-player is included, too). A fine debut!

kash c

 

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The Surfin' Lungs - Splash Back

No Tomorrow

If you’re new to the Surfin’ Lungs then Splash Back will be a real treat, sit back and enjoy it. If, like me, you are already a fan, this is the ‘best of’ we’ve all been waiting for; fifty five minutes of songs on sun, sea, sand, surf, girls and heartache - sheer bliss.

A compilation of previous releases on this Spanish label, it has a range of songs from the beautifully melodic "Alone on the Beach Tonight" through to a surf music version of "The Munsters Theme" which really works. For beach party groupies like myself, "Last Beach Party of Summer" stirs up wonderful nostalgic memories, while rocking versions of "Waiting for Summer Vacation" and "Quarter Mile Machine" keep your feet tapping. "Don’t Face That Wave" features the classic line "give me the keys to the woodie, your records and your stereo," before we finish off with the foot stomping "Let’em Eat Surf".

The Surfin’ Lungs have been together a long time now, but to hear them play these songs live now, you would never guess it - it still sounds fresh.

This album, shows why the Surfin’ Lungs are at the forefront of the British Surf Scene and long may the stay there!

Julie Hamilton

 

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The Blue Hawaiians - Sway

Pascal Records

This is the "first album of mostly original material" from The Blue Hawaiians. Now this is an odd concept to those of us in the UK; the idea that, in this day and age, a band should want to (or be able to) release an album of covers as its debut and wait until later to record any of its own material seems peculiar indeed. Well, what the hell? Judging from the number of compilations The Blue Hawaiians appear on and the amount of soundtrack and television work they have done, this is a well connected band, so I guess that they can do whatever they like. Also, I actually enjoyed their Live At The Lava Lounge album and was quite looking forward to hearing this one.

This time around Mark Fontana (bass and vocals), Mark Sproull (guitar) and Tom Maxwell (drums) are joined by Gary Brandin (replacing Bron Tieman on lap-steel) and Michael Murphy, who adds impeccably tasteful Hammond organ.

And that is my problem with this album; its relentless tastefulness. Just when you want The Blue Hawaiians to let loose and kick some ass, they serve up another lounge-inflected dose of good taste. Now I’m sure that they think that this is a damn good thing, indeed it seems to be what they have set out to achieve, but we at HangTen like a bit of venom and spirit with our twang, I’m afraid.

That said, this is a nice album, in a laid-back, loungey sort of way and anything which serves to bring instrumental music to a wider audience is fine by me. If you like plenty of mellow moods (and the slowest version of Hawaii Five-0 you’re ever likely to want to hear), then Sway could be for you.

Jon Deadman

 

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Dead Man's Curve - World Catastrophe Generator

Gorgeous

I just got in my supply of Dead Man's Curve's new CD World Catastrophe Generator. This has got to be the coolest, most fun instro CD I've heard in a while. It's not just a collection of songs. I had to do a doubletake when I noticed that there were 25 songs listed. Turns out that DMC have written a spy story centred around the evil surf genius Cesare Gorgeous and how he plans to destroy the world with the World Catastrophe Generator. The story's broken up with 12 episodes overall. And then the songs act as a sort of soundtrack for the story. DMC certainly don't have to brag about their songwriting. Everything is rich and full and melodic. The songs aren't your basic 12-bar variety, either. Each song is especially equipped with a melody that actually goes somewhere.

It's all original with the exception of re-arranged covers of Hawaii 5-0, Rumble, and Night of the Vampire. But even these covers fit in well with the context of the overall story.

Easily the coolest release of '98!

Teddie James

 

Cesare Gorgeous adds:

I have to say that I wasn’t very impressed with the Deadman when they came up with the idea of linking the tracks on their debut album with this story. It wasn’t the idea itself, I thought that was good; it was the way they turned me, their mentor, Emperor of the Surf Guitar, into Cesare Gorgeous, Evil Surf-Genius, with Warped Surf-Thoughts. I have to tell you, that hurt.

After several listenings, though, I’m getting kinda used to the idea, especially when it looks as though I’m actually going to escape with the World Catastrophe Generator, the most powerful weapon known to mankind.

What of the music, though?

We kick off with an old favourite of mine, Lada Riva Special Edition, a tribute to the greatest car ever built. The solos in this one (including some very chic theremin) will have the speakers hanging off your walls and your wallpaper shredded, I can tell you.

Next is Watergate Wipeout, which, in spite of the "Deep Throat" intro, was inspired by Watergate Bay, in Cornwall - a good surfing spot. The organ at the beginning of this one will turn your liver liquid (hey, mine’s been liquid for years, what the hell!), while the neat variation on the Wipeout theme will have you stomping like a good ‘un.

Third number is the beautiful, tequila drinking, Sauza Gold, complete with drunken "Ay ay ay ay ay ay ay" sing-along. I happen to know (because I was there) that the engineer in the recording studio thought that the Deadman were mad to add this bit to such a lovely tune, but it works…somehow it works!

You may already be familiar with Charlie’s Point, from the Missing Chord compilation, but this version, if anything, is harder, more crunching - a terrifying evocation of Vietnam madness - followed quickly by Agent Orange, a cool spy-theme classic.

Track six is the first of the covers; Hawaii Five-0. Now, this tune may be ultra-familiar, but Dead Man’s Curve put a new spin on it, with Buzz’s wailing feedback break a particular thrill.

A great favourite of mine is Muscle Is The Powerhouse Of The Body, because I gave this song to the band…in a dream! It’s a dead ringer for my own Calamaries Stomp, with the addition of a lap-steel, shimmering in the background of the Spanish-influenced middle section.

The second cover is The Moontrekkers' Night Of The Vampire (originally produced by my old mate, Joe Meek). This is one of the great rock instrumentals and this is a great version, complete with blood-curdling screams. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine!

Sci-Fi Hi-Fi sends DMC deep into space, complete with seriously strange transmissions-from-space intro, before we are all brought down to earth with a bump, for the savagery of Link Wray’s Rumble.

Last track proper is Blacktop Blackout, in which I am pursued by the Deadmen in a rocket-powered woodie! Enough of that, I think.

And that is about that, apart of course for the reprise of Hawaii Five-0, where we finally get to hear the Deadmen sing; discovering into the bargain just why they are an instrumental band!

All in all, a great album. If I wasn’t their manager and an Evil Surf-Genius to boot, I’d even go and buy myself a copy. 

 

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Langhorns - Langhorns

Bad Taste Records

Sometimes an album comes out and you know you just have to hear it, so you contact the record company and beg a review copy. Sometimes they just arrive, unsolicited, in the post. Frankly, some of these are a bit of a chore to listen to, but some...

...well...some are an unexpected pleasure and this, the excellent debut from Sweden's Langhorns, is one of those.

The opening Jack The Ripper-esque powerchords of Tierra Del Fuego grab your attention, before it takes you by surprise, with a lovely, Spanish-influenced trumpet (remember Misirlou?). The sound is great; twanging, reverbed and always in-your-face, even on the quieter tunes, such as The Quiet Surf, while there are moments when Michael Sellers' guitar just shouts, "Listen to me!"

There are lively (and I mean lively!) versions of Penetration and Squad Car, alongside ferocious originals like Knuckleduster (surf-boxing crossover, anybody?), Langhorn and The Poker. There are also gorgeous moments, such as Latinia and El Guago (glory be, that trumpet comes back!).

What more could you possibly want? Well, how about Shark Attack, a computer game for you to play on either your PC or Mac? Such thoughtful guys!

European instro music is going through a good spell just now and Langhorns are up there with the big hitters. If you can get your hands on this album, do it right away.

Jon Deadman

 

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Las Patatas Bravas - Hot Sauce Surfadelia

Melting Pot

I can’t recommend the debut album from Southampton’s Las Patatas Bravas highly enough. I’ve enjoyed their live set on a number of occasions, but Hot Sauce Surfadelia is something of an eye-opener.

Firstly, the band has a new drummer and Scott Tobin and his powerhouse surf beats keep the sound nailed down throughout. Production on the album is also notable, with the addition of the tremendous Hot Sauce Horns on two tracks (the opening Return of the Thin Man and On L.P.B.T.V. Tonite - a medley of sixties TV themes, featuring Randall & Hopkirk (Deaceased), The Avengers and The Prisoner), occasional vocals (although certainly not lyrics) and a guest appearance from Johnny Deadman and his Vox Continental organ on a number of tracks (although he’s generally buried much deeper in the mix than with Dead Man’s Curve). Nic Bradford is also a fine surf/Ventures/Shadows guitarist, whose tone and technique are amply showcased throughout.

The album kicks off with the aforementioned Return of the Thin Man, which is tremendous; the horns moving it just a satisfying little away from the trad-surf sound. Of the other originals here, Space Madness is propelled by a truly manic sounding laugh (no, it’s nothing like the one on Wipeout), Anasazi could almost be The Shadows (if the Shadows took some pretty heavy drugs), as could Comanchero, a particular favourite of mine. Chupacabras appears to be the tale of a particularly diabolic dog and M.I.A. powers along, as does Technojunkies, familiar from the band’s excellent demo. Remember Waikiki brings the tempo down a notch or two, featuring a great tom-driven verse and nice touches from Johnny’s organ.

There are five covers in all; a searing version of Pipeline, which more than stands comparison with most other versions; The Ventures' Journey to the Stars and Walk Don’t Run; The Savage (as performed by both The Shadows and The Ventures), which is pretty good too, although lacking quite the savagery of The Space Cossacks’ version; and the collection of TV themes mentioned above.

I would only have two minor complaints. The first is to do with the number of covers, but that is ameliorated somewhat by the sheer quality of most of them. The second is that, while the album sounds great, the raw, punk edge of Andy Oswald’s rhythm guitar has been somewhat blunted in the mix (not that this will bother you if you’ve never seen Las Patatas Bravas in the flesh, but once you have, it might). These, though, really are minor quibbles; Hot Sauce Sufadelia is a brilliant debut.

Jon Deadman 

 

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Cosmonauti - Just Surf

Omomusic

Cosmonauti are the leading (and for all I know only) surf instrumental act in Italy; so leading in fact that the Italian Surfing Association (yes, there IS surf in the Mediterranean) chose them as the official band of the 1998 season. Just Surf is their first album and very good it is too.

Cosmonauti utilise a for the most part clean surf guitar sound to quite lovely effect on the thirteen tracks here. At times (Mexico Beach) they could almost be The Shadows (maybe it’s the acoustic rhythm guitar) and I mean that as a compliment.

Like The Shads, they tend to lack some of the ferocious power of a Dick Dale, or of European contemporaries Langhorns, but their playing is pretty damn good and several of the tunes are very sprightly indeed, a particular favourite being 7th Level. There is also plenty of Hispanic influence on the aforementioned Mexico Beach and on (Death Of A ) Matador, as well as a tribute to Italian auto-design in the shape of Maserati.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Surfdusters - Surf After Dark

Fireball

Canadians The Surfdusters sure can rock, but then again, they can do plenty else besides.
The opening number here,
Death Trap, features a pounding surf beat and some manic double picking guitar frenzy from Scott Smith and gets proceedings off to a pretty impressive start, while El Dementia pretty much lives up to its name.

It’s not all like that though; Gruesome is closer to the raw fuzz of Davie Allan, Russian Dressing and KGB-In are somewhat more brooding and feature Joanne Banks’ organ more prominently, Gas Jockey could almost be a country tune, as could Stubble Jumper, while Forgotten Rebel sounds very like The Shadows to these ears.

A particular favourite is Kona Angel, lovely vibrato chords, a rolling tom-tom rhythm and more of that organ; quite beautiful. The only cover is The Friendly Martian, more fuzztone guitar and sixties TV theme organ, which is certainly fine by me. The secret to all of this diversity would appear to lie in the fact that every member of the band is a writer and that only one tune (Haunted Surf, another good one) is written by the whole band together.

All in all an album well worth adding to your collection, I’m pretty sure that you won’t be disappointed. And don't forget to leave the cd running, or you'll miss the surprise bonus track, which appears to be called Hen Pecker: more mad country picking - those crazy Kanuks!

Jon Deadman

 

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The Mulchmen - Greetings From Planet Stupider

Big Beef

Having enjoyed The Mulchmen’s last album, Louder Than Dirt… it was a pleasure to receive their latest offering in the post recently. Greetings From Planet Stupider has, as you might imagine, something of a space theme, each track being tagged with a "flight number," opening with the low theremin hum of Delta Velocity.

Nick Kizirnis, Cruise Director and guitarist, leads The Mulchmen on their merry way through some pretty powerful territory; personal favourites being the double-picked mayhem of The Stalker, the Pink Panther-esque Go-Go Boot Camp, the particularly tuneful Pocketful of Pennies, the bizarrely named Tiddytwister, the vaguely…er…Shadows-ish Shadow Walk (as you know, I’m a sucker for all things Shad) and the heavy metal of Dr. Cyclops/Danger Todd Robinson.

If I were to make two criticisms they would be these: there is no great variety of sound on display here; The Mulchmen are a three-piece, with the occasional addition of the theremin and a lot of the tunes are tonally very similar. Did I say two criticisms? Ah yes - why no titles to rival the fabulous A Man With No Reverb Is No Man At All, from Louder Than Dirt…? I guess that’s a fairly small criticism!

Jon Deadman

 

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The Beat Tornados - Pole Position

Amigo

Some albums are just too damn short! This cd from The Beat Tornados contains a mere eight tracks and clocks in at exactly twenty minutes, which barely makes it worthy of being called an album at all.

Just hold on a minute; only eight tracks, but what great tracks; only twenty minutes, but how could you spend a more exhilarating twenty minutes?

I don’t know what it is about Scandinavia, but it sure as hell produces great surf music; Norway has Laika And The Cosmonauts and The Hypnomen, Sweden has Langhorns and Norway has The Beat Tornados.

Pole Position contains three originals; Throttleman, which wears its country ‘n’ Western credentials on its sleeve, and two stormers in Pole Position and El Nino.

There are also two covers in the beautiful lap-steel stylings of The Shads’ Kon Tiki and a really pounding version of The Dakotas The Cruel Sea - hey, these guys know their UK instrumentals.

Also featured are three tunes described as "traditional." The "album" opens with Oppå Fjellet, which may be traditional, but sounds a hell of a lot like Dick Dale to me, while Piken I Dalen (I only wish I knew what these titles meant) also rocks with the best of them. Oddest moment of all, though, must be the third of the "traditional" tunes, Reinlender, which features a Jaw Harp; the first instrument I ever owned and a new one on me in surf music.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Bambi Molesters - Intensity!

Dancing Bear

Dumb Loud Hollow Twang was certainly one of the best instro albums of last year and the second album from Croatians The Bambi Molesters has been eagerly awaited throughout the surf world.

Well, now it’s arrived and well worth the wait Intensity! is too. The sound is somewhat less cavernous than on the previous album, although still heavily reverbed, and this adds maybe a little power.

Power is certainly in evidence on the first two numbers, Intensity! Itself and a very sprightly rendition of Dick Dale’s The Wedge. Dalibor Pavicic’s double picked guitar is well to the fore and boy can this man double pick - it’s…well…it’s INTENSE.

Next up is Central Coast Swing, familiar to anyone who has The Bambi’s Bikini Machines 7" and featuring more manic double picking, over an at times thunderous beat, provided by Hrvoje Zaborac’s drums and Lada Furlan’s bass (hey what is it about female bass players, first The Space Cossacks, now the Bambi Molesters?). This is followed by C Alpha, which makes great use of that huge crashing sound you get when you drop (or kick) a spring reverb unit. Fifth number is Bikini Machines itself; a really lively dance tune, which I think I like more with each hearing.

There are mellower moments to enjoy too; the Spanish/Hawaiian collision of Tempted and on Sweet Spot. The closing Latina, a tune also covered recently by Langhorns, is mellowness tempered with a real edge of anxiety, before building to a crashing finale. It’s also one of the high points of the album.

The Wailers’ High Wall provides the album with it’s third cover, while Napulskja Gitara is credited as Traditional; a Croatian folk dance maybe - it certainly has the Balkan swing!

There’s more intensity to be enjoyed on Chase, while in the middle of the wonderfully titled Invasion of the Reverb Snatchers, producer Bojan Kotzmuth suddenly goes all dub-wise on us (and to great effect, I might add).

The Bambi Molesters are another great European instrumental band and Intensity is another great album. In fact the only thing wrong with The Bambi Molesters is that they look so cool; even the balding Dinko Tomljanovic looks coo - it's just not fair! All we have to do now is get them to come and play in England.

Jon Deadman 

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The Knights - Surfin’ The Web

Lance Records

The Knights (or King Richard and the Knights, as they were known) began life in 1961 and, in 1964 had a regional hit with Precision, before finally calling it a day in 1967.

In 1997 guitarist Dick Stewart and bassist Gary Snow reformed The Knights, adding drummer Steve Hudgins to the line up. Surfin’ the Web is the result; featuring six original guitar instrumentals, alongside four covers, Bull Dog, Sleep Walk, Sea of Love and Walk Don’t Run.

The title track kicks off the album; it’s a pleasant enough number, featuring a series of spoken computer messages ("You have mail," "This programme has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down," you get the idea, I’m sure). Now, I’m sure this seemed very witty at the time ("Surfin’ the Web…" geddit?), but I do worry on The Knights behalf that it may all become a little tiresome after a few listens.

Fortunately, the rest of the album features nothing like this and is, in fact, a very pleasant collection of well played tunes. It is all very laid-back and not exactly filled with in-your-face sounds, but it is well worth checking out.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Reventlos - Songs Of The Golden West

Ranell Records

Another album of almost bewidering eclecticism from The Reventlos, who describe themselves as "death-surf/Afro-billy". Fun Zone, which starts procedings, is almost a straightforward (I use the word cautiously) surf instrumental, Spahn Ranch Rodeo is altogether more spacey, Haunted Valley is a very odd song indeed and Stan Orlow is torn between African hi-life and surf (not to mention the horns at the end) - and that's only the first four numbers. Then there's heavy metal (Crawl of The Reventlos, Crankheads of Elsinore), more African rhythms and tones, broken up with ...um... other bits (Mondo Reventlo), Jazz - of a type - (Groove, Part 1) and big band swing (Hey Andy). Much of the rest sounds like...well...it sounds like The Reventlos really, which is as it should be, I suppose.

Don't misinterpret me, because I like this album a great deal, as I liked the band's previous offering, but I am rather puzzled as to why it is that The Reventlos hitch themselves to the surf music bandwagon. Yes, most of this album is instrumental and, yes, it features plenty of electric guitar playing, but it doesn't really feature very many of the things which we would normally consider to be surf music, even in its broadest interpretation.

Of course, none of this prevents this entertaining and enjoyable collision of styles from being a good album (which it is), nor does it mean that you shouldn't track it down and give it a listen (which you should), it simply maked The Reventlos a very odd bunch indeed (which they are). Of course, we at HangNine wouldn't have it any other way.

Jon Deadman 

 

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Heads Up! - The Best Of The Lively Ones Volume 2

Sunset Beach - The Best Of The Sentinals

Moment Of Truth - The Best Of Dave Myers and The Surf-Tones

Del-Fi

Three more releases from the Del-Fi label, all of them Best Of..s, featuring three first wave surf bands, all of whom are also featued on the Surf Monsters compilation.

The Lively Ones were apparently so called because they jumped around a lot and the album is certainly lively too, opening with their barnstorming version of Pipeline, with lead guitarist Jim Masoner well to the fore. The band played mainly covers and the album features plenty of tunes which you will know, even if you haven't heard these versions before. My favourites are Pipeline, Hot Pastrami, Wipe Out, Latinia and Sleep Walk, most of which feature Masoner heavily. If you like sax-led instrumentals though, there's plenty here for you too, with Joel Willenbring leading the way on versions of Surfin' USA, Surfin' Safari, Surf City and others.

The Sentinals album opens with Big Surf, which can also be found on the Surf Monsters compilation, before bringing us a variation on the Misirlou theme in the shape of Exotic. The third track is the one which makes this album really worth buying though, Latinia, in its original (and best) form. It would be pretty hard to match the intensity and power of the opening trio of tunes, but the album has other fine moments too: Tor-Chula is very reminiscent of Tequila, but atmospheric with it, as is Sunset Beach. There are also several vocal numbers; Shout, Surfin', Ooh Poh Pa Doo are all okay, but Surfin' Tragedy is my favourite (although I am definitely a sucker for a song which tells a story, especially one involving plenty of death - you probably get the idea). The instrumental version of Surfer Girl could almost be The Shadows, while Sensation and Twilighter could almost be produced by Joe Meek. There's certainly plenty of good stuff on this album.

The Dave Myers album kicks off powerfully with Frog Walk Pt. II (we never do get to hear Pt. I, which I, for one, think is a bit of a shame), followed by an absolutley stroming Church Key. All of the songs, including mellower moments such as Aquavelva, sound big; the guitars heavily reverbed and supported by huge honking saxes and rolling pianos and there's plenty of whooping and yahing, which never goes amiss in my book. Other high points of this collection include the quite astonishing introduction to Surf Breaker and the rolling Passion. The finest moment of all, though, is Moment of Truth istelf. If you have never heard this tune before, buy this album and you'll be reminded of what Dick Dale said about trying to recreate the roar of the ocean with his guitar, while also being delighted by the melodic guitar and sax playing - a genuine classic.

While both The Lively Ones and Sentinals albums fall a little into the trap of having some great moments and a lot of material which can sound a little formulaic and samey, the Dave Mayers album is a real eye-opener and I can't recommend it too highly.

All three albums are beautifully presented, with extensive and genuinely interesting sleeve notes.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Preston Wayne Four - Themes From Wayne Manor

dino Records

Apparently Preston Wayne has been the "King of the Wammy Bar" for twenty years or more now, which shows what I know, because I've never heard of the guy.

That said, this is a storming album and raw as hell. Opener, El Aguila, sets the tone, with its wailing, over-driven guitar, before we are introduced to the feeback-o-rama of Double A Fueler, in which Preston shows that he can double pick with the best of 'em, never mind being the King of Wammy (which he most assuredly is).

There's straight ahead (well, almost straight ahead) rockabilly here too, in the shape of Dialed In, there's what probably passes for a ballad (OK, a ballad with some fast bits) in Preston Wayne's world, Theme From Wayne Manor and there's some hellish kind of Country twang on Flamethrower.

My favourite, though, is a somewhat unexpected version of Kumbaya. Now, in England, this is a song most associated with the Girl Guides, but I wouldn't recommend thinking about young girls in uniform in the same breath as this sex-fuelled version, or you'll be ending up in solitary confinement!

A great album, no doubt.

Jon Deadman

 

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Alan Jenkins - Free Surf Music #1

CDR from Alan Jenkins, featuring a black and white sleeve reminiscent of The Cortinas classic punk single Defiant Pose, but probably nicked from some dodgy porn site on the web.

This all starts a little unpromisingly with some synth-noodling, but soon kicks into the most decidedly twangsome Pour Quoi Pas Moo, which is mighty fine. This is followed by more noodling, which reaches its most irritating on Free Surf Music #1 itself. I had hoped that the album was so titled because it was being given away free - sadly not; the Free Surf Music referred to being based on a misunderstanding of what Ornette Coleman meant by Free Jazz and an even bigger misunderstanding of what the rest of us mean by surf music.

Tell Out My Soul may be a rendition of a hymn (and so likely to annoy me even more), but at least the twang makes a comeback here; in fact it is surprisingly effective, at least until the sax kicks in. The twang returns again for the stupidly-titled, but rather tasty, Lumpy Gravy and Untitled (the seventh of the untitled numbers here) is OK in a vaguely sixties TV kind of way.

Too much of this collection, though, is the sort of stuff which seems like a good idea in your bedroom studio, but less of a good idea when you inflict it on the rest of the world.

Alan Jenkins informs me that the album will be released on vinyl by sorted records in the near future.

Jon Deadman 

 

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Langhorns - Club Gabardino

Bad Taste Records

Langhorns eponymously titled debut album is one of my favourite surf instrumental albums of recent years and this follow up was eagerly awaited here at HangNine Towers - and we weren't disappointed.

Club Gabardino's opener Surf-99 doesn't kick in with quite the same ferocity as Tierra Del Fuego on the first album, but it certainly moves along very swingingly, assisted by some tremendous riffing horns. Other great up-tempo moments include the stomper, Wet Wedding, Power Grip, Fuzzball and Pit Stop Stampede (whioch verges on heavy metal).

Some of the album's finest moments, though, come when Langhorns introduce a Spanish (or more properly Mexican) influence; the title track begins like some kind of Latino cocktail bar background music, but then it takes off with the introduction of a gorgeous trumpet, a trick repeated to similar effect on the only cover here, Dick Dale's The Victor.

The album closes with Pall Mall, a huge, twanging spy theme played over funky drums, wah-wah guitar and Fender Rhodes: tremendous and not unlike the furrow ploughed by Los Nachos in one of their incarnations.

Jon Deadman 

 

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Archie Thompson - The Legend of Johnny Surf

Stat Records

This album is built around the playing of Archie Thompson ("King of the Surf Sax") who is apparently best known as a pianist. Indeed, on this album he plays just about everything; sax, piano, organ and bass, as well as writing, arranging, producing and providing vocals.

The playing and production is extremely slick and the tunes are pretty useful too, although I doubt that you would recognise many of them as being surf music (despite the rather lovely woody which features on the cover); there are simply not enough twanging guitars on most of the numbers!

That said, this is a lively enough collection of pretty groovy (mostly) instrumentals which would grace any 60's retro party you were planning to hold by the pool or the beach.

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Bradipos IV - Instro Mania

Omomusic

This album has a good title and a cool 60's chic sleeve (although the cool loses a little in the translation into cd format!),the Bradipos IV have a great name and they come from the same stable as the estimable Cosmonauti: how can they fail?

Well, they can't really and they don't; this really is a fine album and one which you should check out.

The sound is just what you might expect, heavily reverbed guitars and the old bah-bah bah surf beat, augmented to great effect by a cheesy-as-hell organ for some numbers (try Forbidden Island for one).

My one complaint would be with the production, which is not quite as in your face as I might have liked. Great album nevertheless. Any chance of a UK visit boys?

Jon Deadman 

 

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Melenhead

little silver records

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of the saxophone as a solo instrument in rock 'n' roll, unless it's just used for riffing away, so feel free to take my comments on this album with a large pinch of salt.

Melenhead apparently "recalls the spirit of King Curtis and Jr. Walker and combines it with guitar sounds reminiscent of Link Wray." Well, that all sounds fine and dandy to me, although I've never heard King Curtis and find it pretty tough to discern either the joy of Jr. Walker or the raw menace of Link Wray in many of these tunes.

That's not to say that the album isn't worth a listen though. The playing is very good and some of the tunes are extremely atmospheric (Mantilla), while some are lots of fun (Party Time! With the Little Big Horn - great title too, although not as good a title as Jack Lord Is Bored, another nifty enough up-tempo number).

Jon Deadman

 

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The Knights - Surfin' The Southwest, Sant Fe Style

Lance Records

Another outing for reformed 60's surfer The Knights, promising this time to be "the real deal" and featuring eight original tunes (two of them, Moonbeam 2000 and Precision 2000, evidently retreads of their own 60's oeuvre) and three covers; The Red Guitars' (no, I've never heard of them either, from Quebec, apparently) The Man Who Wasn't There, Ghost Riders In The Sky and Wipe Out.

"This time we stepped up the delivery a notch or two without compromising The Knights' traditional melodic style," they explain in the sleeve notes and this would appear to be a pretty fair summary of what's on offer here. The Knights are certainly not the most rocking of instrumental surf bands, but they sure are melodic and play well.

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Vara-Tones - Jetty Subject to High Surf

One of the great things for me about the revival of interest in surf and instrumental music over the past several years has been the way in which the careers of numerous performers have been revitalised, or, as seems to be the case with The Vara-Tones, completely recommenced. Back in 1964 Bill Epps and his merry men released their one and only single, Repeto, on the Kay label. Well, here they are, a mere 36 years on, re-recording Repeto, along with some other of their 1960's originals (Vara-Tone Stomp, Rendezvous Run, Sunset at the Wedge and Groo-V-Chicken) and a batch of brand new material - and a mighty fine album is the result. The playing is exceptional throughout, belying the passing of the years with its verve and, at times, intensity. Meanwhile and judging from the cover photograph, Bill Epps has been keeping a portrait in his attic, since he looks about as young now as he does in the original shots from the early 1960's (don't you just hate people like that?).

Jetty Subject to High Surf (God, I wish I could live in California, then we could have signs like that at the bottom of our road - in Brighton it would more likely read Pier Subject to Slight Ripples) contains some pounding rockers (try the opener, Surf Blaster, or The Jetty for examples) and plenty of quite beautiful mellower stuff too (EL Sereno, Midnight in Mazatlan, Sunset at the Wedge). I particularly enjoyed Groo-V-Chicken, with its pretty blatant steal from one of my favourite Link Wray numbers (Run Chicken Run), while the re-recorded Repeto 2000 is pretty nifty too.

Pride of place, though, must go to the original version of Repeto, which closes this album. The big surprise to those of us who have never heard this before, is that the lead isn't taken by twanging guitars, but by a huge, fat, honking saxaphone, which powers through this lively two minutes and seven seconds of stomping joy - great stuff indeed.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Surf Breed - Surfariland

Roughtone

Another UK instrumental surf band and another good one to boot, The Surf Breed are a three piece, featuring Paul Keyes (who you may have come across under the name Surftrek, whose Deathwave Theme featured on the Missing Chord compilation - see the Compilations Archive), on guitar and bass, Simon Norris (of Surfzone) on guitar, bass and sax, with Richie "Stix" Simpson on drums.

The sound is pretty much pure surf (if you can ignore the drum machines, which I can for the most part, although I know that some will consider them to be heretical), with heavily reverbed (and very well played) guitars well to the fore. The majority of the tracks are originals, alongside covers of Big Wednesday and Bombora, both of which are pretty sprightly.

Particular favourites for me are Snake Dancer, which features a nice snake-dancing-stylee sax intro and arabesque guitars, and Summer at the Point, which is gloriously poppy and (as you might expect) summery, reminding me more of The Shadows than anyone else; play this track at your summer barbecues and beach parties, you won't be disappointed. A special mention should also be reserved for Tubular Swells, just because it has great title!

Jon Deadman

 

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Free Surf Music #2 - Alan Jenkins

Hot on the heels of Free Surf Music #1 (see above) comes Free Surf Music#2. This time there is no cover (at least, not on the review copy we were sent) and NONE of the tracks seem to have titles. Once again Alan Jenkins unleashes a bizarre and eclectic mixture of sounds on the world, although this time there seems to be a lot less of the slightly aimless meanderings which characterised so much of the first album. The sound is a lot more focussed and the majority of the (short) tracks have clearly discernible tunes, filled with twanging guitars, great cheesy organs (ooh er missus!) and a variety of oddly warbling synths, theremins and saxaphones. There are even some pretty nice girly backing vocals (although there is a slightly unsettling, off-key quality to these).

While the first album featured some very good moments amongst a lot of "experimentation," the balance this time is firmly in the opposite direction and all the better for it, say we.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Space Cossacks - Tsar Wars

MuSick

Tsar Wars is the long awaited follow up to The Space Cossacks' excellent debut, Interstellar Stomp and it certainly proves to have been worth the wait, packed as it is with great tunes and playing of quite extraordinary virtuosity. Anyone familiar with the first album, or with the tastes of head-Cossack and lead guitarist Ivan Pongracic, will find the usual mix of influences: surf, space themes, The Shadows and The Atlantics, but there are one or two surprises thrown in as well.

The album opens with a burst of backwards guitars, before launching headlong into the frenetic double-picking, coupled with tasteful melodic middle section, of Exolumina. Next up is a cover of The Ho-Dads' Space Race, which is fine in a TV space-theme kind of way, but which barely holds a candle to The Space Cossacks' own Apes of Wrath, which follows: drummer Doug Huekstra bashes three shades of hell out of his skins, Mark English and Catherine Gray nail the rhythm down tightly, while Ivan tosses off huge reverberant guitar lines with gay abandon. You may already know this number from the Surf Monsters compilation, but if you don?t, it alone makes Tsar Wars worthy of your attention; massive, simply massive.

Tsunami Tsurprise doesn't have quite the same enormous impact, although it too allows plenty of scope for all members of the band to show off the quality of their playing. Escape From Gulag 17 is a bit like The Shadows on speed, highlighting Ivan's love of a good melody; this one bearing a slight resemblance to Greensleeves (or did I dream that? Greensleeves was never played this fast, that's for certain).

Sea of Tranquility is a waltz which provides the first pause in the breakneck pace of Tsar Wars and features acoustic rhythm guitar, very much in the Bruce Welch mode, while it's pretty easy to imagine Hank himself picking over the lead melody in the verses. It's quite beautiful too.

The calm is short-lived, however, with more high-octane playing on The Defector, which is followed by a cover of The Atlantics' The Crusher. Ivan Pongracic has long been a champion of the (apparently soon-to-reform) Australian instrumental sonic experimenters and when you hear tunes like this one, or Bombora, which featured on Interstellar Stomp, it's easy to see why. Apparently The Space Cossacks particularly enjoy playing this number, since it is such torture for drummer Doug Huekstra. Actually, the next number can't be all the much better, since Cossack Rocket Patrol, also has some pretty nifty stick work on it. This is a version of a traditional Russian tune, previously performed, under different titles, by both The Spotnicks and British band The Krew Kats, whose members numbered two future members of the Shadows. I sound very knowledgeable about obscure instro bands here, but have to admit that Ivan gave me the details!

The Jewel of Duende is another of those laid back, acoustic strums, with a South Sea island feel, very nice too. I have to admit that the next track, Departure, is not exactly my favourite, although it's pleasant enough. It does, however, feature a quite ridiculously clever guitar line at the very end, the sort of thing us guitarists feel very smug about if we manage to pull it off; the difference being that Ivan actually does pull it off!

Beyond The Third Star, which was co-written with Jim Frias, original sax player of The Nocturnes, whose Third Star to the Left (a prequel to this tune) featured on Interstellar Stomp, sees the band back in top gear, tearing along and shredding those strings. Frias' sax can also be heard augmenting the choruses. Tsar Wars itself is up next; more pounding tom toms, more surf beats and great melodic playing.

I mentioned that the album contained a few surprises and, for me, Fiesta Del Cossacapulco! is the greatest and most pleasant. If I were to have one criticism of The Space Cossacks, never having actually met any of them, or seen them play live, it would be that their recordings sound a little earnest at times. Not so here, though; not only does this tune sound fun, it sounds like to was fun to record (although the "Yee-ha" type chanting obviously contributes to that sense). It's just what you might expect to find in a Mexican holiday resort canteena (or so I fondly imagine, never having visited such an establishment); really excellent stuff, which will make you want to order a jug of marguerites right away.

The album closes with Catherine Gray's Tradewinds, a rather lovely, relaxed tune, redolent of warm summer evenings, sunburst skies and walks along the beach.

If you buy the album on cd you also get some additional features, at least you do when you drop the disc into your computer's cd drive. Firstly you are presented with the option of listening to the audio tracks or viewing the multimedia content. The cd liner notes suggest that it is not possible to do both of these things at once, although my pc seemed to manage this task, so give it a go. The multimedia content consists of a number of photographs of the band in action (I want Catherine's cowgirl hat!), links to both the MuSick and Space Cossacks web sites and also Tsar Wars the Novella. The Novella turns out to be an entertaining and nicely illustrated Science Fiction story, each chapter relating to one of the songs on the album. This kind of thing can lead to mental writer's cramp, as you try to twist your plot to fit a series of not-especially-related song titles, but it's all good fun anyway. The navigation panel at the side of the screen links can take you to any chapter you like and, when I had the audio playing at the same time, also took me to the relevant track, although this didn't work predictably, nor in every case.

A second great album from The Space Cossacks, featuring some very interesting new ideas in terms of multmedia presentation.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Mermen - The Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show

Mesa/Blue Moon

OK, so what is surf music?

Well, it's twanging electric guitars, double picking, glissandos. It's two minutes and thirty seconds of great melody and tunes with titles related to surfing. It's reverb, it's the surf beat, it's all about trying to recreate the sound and style of early 60's California. Isn't it?

OK, so what do The Mermen sound like?

Well, they do use electric guitars (and pedal steel and synthesizers and djembe drums and autoharps) and they do play instrumentals, but there the similarity pretty much ends. The tunes are stretched out (Burn is nearly 14 minutes in length), the titles have nothing to do with surfing (or spies, or space, or whatever else has influenced what we might recognise as modern surf music), in fact most of the titles are just plain stupid (worse than that they're hippy-stupid) and the drummer never plays anything like that ole surf beat. Oh yes, and Jim Thomas uses effects on his guitar (and not just reverb, or even tape delay, but modern, digital effects - heretic, burn him at the stake!). Hell, they even take their name from a Jimi Hendrix lyric? And to some surf aficionados Hendrix is the anti-Christ (wasn't it he who, in 1967 said, 'You'll never hear surf music again? Some people never forgave him for that). And yet...

And yet... Jim Thomas actually surfs and the press release for this album quotes real live surfers as claiming that The Mermen make, "Music that communicates to real surfers."

And yet... that beautiful, rich, sonorous guitar at the beginning of Unto The Resplendent sounds to me like the ocean itself. There is double picking on Micki's Lush Beehive (damn good double picking too) and Sway is gorgeous, just what you want to hear at the end of a long tiring day communing with the waves (OK, I only play at this, but if I could commune with the waves for real, this is what I'd want to hear afterwards). To Be Naked And French Is Always Hard (I told you the titles were stupid), could almost pass for Hawaiian, or is that Spanish? Or Mexican? Or, I suppose, French?

And what the hell, Burn might last for half an eternity, but I wanted it to last even longer. I can only think of one other number, Television's Marquee Moon, which extends over anything approaching this legth without descending into self-indulgence, but self-indulgence is the last thing that comes to mind when listening to this gorgeous, joyous, graceful music.

At times I can hear another favourite guitarist of mine, Richard Thompson, who you might do well to check out, some of you. At other times I can hear the Celtic instro-folk-rock of a band like Moving Hearts, while the pedal steel in Unto The Resplendent reminds me of nothing more than The Walker Brothers' No Regrets. Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South is operating somewhere at the surf-spaghetti western interface (well that bit of it where howling feedback interjects!), while Bare White even toys with some of the tools of dance music and Jazz (more heresy!), but mostly this album sounds like nothing on earth or in the sea. It sounds like The Mermen and it sounds fantastic. sJust fantastic!

Jon Deadman

 

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Rover - Surf Meets Che Guevara

So, you love surf music and have a keen interest in radical politics; what do you do? Obviously you write material like this. Most politically minded musicians probably choose to write songs with political lyrics, Sean Rush has opted to write instrumental surf tracks with political titles and to graft on relevant vocal samples and the like (so the cd opens with Ronald Regan and his infamous, "We begin bombing in five minutes," remark; well I guess he found it amusing!). I have to say that all of this makes for great fun, particularly since the tunes are pretty damn fine and the playing is excellent throughout.

The well put together sleeve notes also make for enlightening, if at times rather frightening, reading and the back cover picture of the surfing Che Guevara is hilarious; if only it was real!

If the cd suffers at all it is from the fact that Sean seems to have done it all alone and, as with many bedroom productions (and believe me, I know) the sound can suffer. Personally I quite like drum machines, but they do tend to sound like drum machines. The good news on this front is that Sean is currently trying to put a band together to record what he describes as a "full cd" - now that I do look forward to.

Thanks for the "fridge magnets" by the way Sean!

Jon Deadman

 

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The Bradipos IV - Surf Session (Teen Sound Records)

Who are they? Along with Cosmonauti, surely Italy's finest exponents of instrumental music. Surf Session is the second album from The Bradipos IV (a review of the first, InstroMania, can be found in the HangNine archive), a band greatly enjoyed by the HangNine contingent on the beach in Marina di Massa a couple of summers back. Amerigo Crispi (bass), Francesco Lo Presti (guitar/keyboards), Massimiliano Crispi (guitar) and Enrico Ragni (drums), seem intent on reproducing an authentic 1960's sound and on this album they have surely achieved their goal.

What's good? Current favourite track has to be Night On The Vesuvius, a rather lovely, brooding, loungey thing, complete with mariachi trumpet towards the end (and we do love a good trumpet, don't we?). Similar laid-back moods are conjoured on La Ultima Ola and King of Sloths (these latter two making excellent use of Francesco's atmospheric organ playing). However there are also plenty of twanging surf numbers to get your feet stomping - check out Beach Grave, Reverb Gang and the manic double picking of L'Ineguimento. Special mention should also go to the great version of A Fist Full Of Dollars, Hey! with its rather splendid shouted chorus (they all shout "Hey!") and to the Davie Allan-without-the-fuzz biker anthem, She Devil's Curse.

They sent us a CD of photographs, which is a nice and unusual touch.

They sent us badges - and it's well know that HangNine is always open to this kind of bribery.

What's bad? If you're looking for something startlingly new and original, this is probably not the place to start your search, but then that's not really the point is it?

HangNine Rating: AB - visit the Bradipos IV website for further details of how to get your hands on a copy. 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Thurston Lava Tube - The Pink Elephant With Nipples For Tusks (Cordelia Records)

Who are they? Self-proclaimed psychedelic, experimental surf instrumental group from Leicester, England. In fact, probably the best psychedelic, instrumental surf instrumental group from Leicester (and, for all I know, the only such band from Leicester). Featuring Alan Jenkins (his Free Surf Music numbers 1 and 2 are reviewed elsewhere on HangNine) on guitar, The Thurston Lava Tube are a rather lovely combination of twanging, Young Marble Giants organ and quirky bits. The Pink Elephant With Nipples For Tusks (see, I told you they were quirky), features eleven self-penned tunes and finishes with fairly faithful renditions of Surf Rider and Wonderful Land and 7 minutes 44 seconds of Mrs Robinson, some of which they claim to have recorded in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City!

What's good? Well, most of the tunes, for a starter. Particular favourites in the HangNine household at the moment are The Anchor Pigs, Peruvogator, Forgot To Put The Chain On Baxter, Absurdo, Shit Weasel and Oh, What Happened To The Poor Bear?

Alan's guitar twangs away like a good 'un and some of Blodwyn P. Teabag's organ parts are just gorgeous (I've always loved the Young Marble Giants, you see).

Some of the titles. Pick of the bunch has to be It's The Music Of The Thurston Lava Tube But It's Performed Here By Pigeons.

What's bad? If you don't really like quirky, I suppose that some parts of this might irritate after a while, but personally I pretty much like quirky.

HangNine Rating: AB - go to the Cordelia Records website and find out how to buy this now! 

Jon Deadman

 

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Beyond The Sea - The Surf Instrumental Bands Of The World Fearlessly Extend Their Repertoire(Cordelia Records)

 

What Is It? A compilation put together by Alan Jenkins of The Thurston Lava Tube and released on his Cordelia Records label. The idea is that surf instrumental bands play tunes from well outside the usual repertoire. This seemed like such a good idea to me that my own band, Los Fantasticos, features, performing Roger Whittaker's Mexican Whistler. I will make no further comment about this.

What's good? Some great versions of some quite unexpected tunes. Particular favourites include: A Ha's Take On Me, played in stirring fashion by the quite excellent Bitch Boys; Estrume'n'tal's stunning Davie Allan-esque version of Redemption Song; a quite hilarious take on the absurdly pompous and overrated Bohemian Rhapsody, from The Thurston Lava Tube themselves; Beyond The Sea, by The Aquamarines. Also worhty of mention are The Glasgow Tiki Shakers' Auld Lang Syne (quite probably the first time that Robert Burns has had a writing credit on a surf album, but apologies to him if it isn't), the completely bonkers Spongebob Squarepants Theme Tune, by Monkey Versus Robot, The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, from The Astroglides, You Sexy Thing from Our Flying Saucer and some fine stuff from The Pyronauts, The Urban Surf Kings and The Cocktail Preachers.

A rather beautiful digi-pack sleeve, featuring Vincenzo Campi's Fishmongers.

What's bad? While the playing is never less than fine, some of the tunes don't extend the surf repertoire quite as fearlessly as might have been hoped.

HangNine Rating: AB - visit the Cordelia website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Supertones - Cinema Surf (Golly Gee Records)

Who are they? New York's finest, or so the sleeve notes tell us. Cinema Surf features a collection of familiar tunes (mainly film and TV themes, surprisingly enough), played in a surf style.

What's good? These boys can play.

You will know all (or nearly) all of these tunes (and, I would hazard, love quite a few of them) and sometimes the familiar is just what you need to cheer you up. Personally, the original versions of some of these tunes are amongst my favourites: Atlantis, The Magnificent Seven, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, The Munsters Theme, Music To Watch Girls By, Paint It Black and Wonderful Land.

A good selection of instrumentation, including brass, sitars and, I swear, a jew's harp.

What's bad? Over familiarity is not always a good thing.

One band member looks suspiciously like John McCririck in one of the sleeve photos. Unless you are from the UK, this will almost certainly mean nothing to you. If you are from the UK, you will know that it is not an entirely good thing.

HangNine Rating: PDG - visit the Golly Gee website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Estrume'n'tal - Neander'n'tal (Golly Gee Records)

Who are they? From Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Fred, Lino, Gui and Claudao, proclaim themselves to be Metal-Surf-Punk and, amongst a pretty lengthy list of thanks, namecheck The Ramones. As you might imagine, Estume'n'tal do NOT have an absolutley authentic surf sound!

What's good? They don't have an absolutely authentic surf sound! Guitars fuzz and drums clatter through 18 high-energy Metal-Surf-Punk tunes that you will just want to get up and pogo to.

Brilliant playing, which never drops below frantic in pace - great stuff.

Two reasonably unexpected covers, in the form of Bob Marley's Redemption Song (Redemption Surf) and Kraftwerk's The Model (Kraft). I would have to say that Redemption Song is not my favourite Marley number, but Estrume'n'tal breathe a whole new life into it. The Model IS one of my favourite songs.

What's bad? Next time somebody says to you, "Surf music, just remind me what that is again," don't play them this as an introduction! But do play it to them anyway.

HangNine Rating: AB - visit the Golly Gee website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Bitch Boys - Ride The First Wave (Golly Gee Records)

Who are they? Without doubt, Slovenia's finest exponents of instrumental surf music. On this, their third album, the Bitch Boys have teamed up with Mel Spinella, from Golly Gee, to select classic tunes from the first wave of surf music (and a handful of other tunes which they just couldn't resist) to play in their own inimitable style. Apparently, many of these tunes have never been covered before.

What's good? The absolutely authentic surf sound and some absolutely stunning playing from Damir, Marko, Robi and Tomaz.

A fantastic choice of tunes, some of which you may know and many of which you may have the pleasure of discovering for the first time (I know I did), including a handful of classical pieces, already in the surf repertoire, a traditional Bosnian tune and, especially for Robi's late father, The Snowman (with no Aled Jones in sight). One oddity is Knajazigor vs. The Phantom Of The Opera. Yes, the abominable Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom Of The Opera - and these boys even make that sound great. Tunes are not always played as straight covers either; Surf Rider is one of the more famous first wave numbers, but here it takes on a splendid and unexpected swing.

The whistling on Big Noise From Makaha.

Dracula's Theme, complete with its spooky voiceover and lovely organ.

The bit when they go all Balkan on us in Puszta Beat.

Next time somebody says to you, "Surf music, just remind me what that is again," just play them this: the perfect introduction.

What's bad? Nothing at all, this is a fantastic album.

HangNine Rating: AFB - visit the Golly Gee website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Lost Acapulco - Acapulco Golden (El Toro)

Who are they? Mexicans in wrestling masks (it seems they actually had this idea before Los Straitjackets).

What's good? Lost Acapulco have a fine line in instrumental mayhem (Mision Malvarosa, Acapulco Golden), incomprehensible shouting (Tangatutanga, Surf Mongul, Frensick) and some quite unexpectedly beautiful bits (Luna Luau, Roqueta To The Moon).

Aqua Vulva is a fantastic title for a tune.

If you like Davie Allan-style fuzz, there's plenty here for you too, including great motorcycle samples on Acapulco Golden.

What's bad? Not a whole lot really.

HangNine Rating: AB - visit the El Toro website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman 

 

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Los Twang Marvels - Guitars In Orbit (El Toro)

Who are they? A Chilean and an Argentinian, based in Germany and signed to a Spanish label. Much beloved, perhaps not surprisingly, of Eddie Angel and, a little more surprisingly, Robert Fripp.

What's good? Los Twang Marvels are well named, blending Latin melodies, with the twangiest surf and space sounds (oh and a large slice of The Shadows for good luck).

The guitar playing of Marisoi Yolanda and Alex Anthony is jaw-droppingly great in places (just listen to Runaway From Zardoa or Rancho Cucamonga if you don't believe me).

There's a version of Swan Lake, which can never be a bad thing.

What's bad? While still pretty good, the version of Link Wray's The Black Widow, is a touch disappointing - but I'm just being picky now.

HangNine Rating: AB - visit the El Toro website for further details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Vara-Tones - Heading Out (Vee Tone)

Who are they? Revived sixties American surfers, whose previous album, Jetty Subject To High Surf, was quite a favourite at HangNine Towers. Heading Out again features some great playing and great tunes from Bill Epps, Rich Campbell, Gary Sunda and Terry Zimmerman.

What's good? A great mix of originals (some favourites include Heading Out itself, Prima Vara, Mrs Moto, Reverberator, Rockin' The Bach - which isn't really an original, but is great anyway - and the rather lovely Beyond The Blue) and covers (Pipeline, Tickler, Ramrods 'n' Hotrods, Surf Rider, Surf Man and Siboney, which reminded me a little of The Bambi Molesters on first hearing - on second hearing, I'm not quite so convinced of that though).

What's bad? Well, I know that it's fun to play your favourite tunes and it's nice to give the punters something that they recognise, but you may feel that your collection already has enough versions of Pipeline and Surf Rider, although the versions here certainly pass muster and some of the other covers ARE less well known.

HangNine Rating: AB.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Tornadoes - Now And Then (Crossfire)

Who are they? Not The Tornados (of Telstar fame), but the Tornadoes (of Bustin' Surfboards fame), whose career was revived by the use of that tune in Pulp Fiction. Now And Then is a real curate's egg of an album, featuring all of the band's original 60's singles (available in one place for the first time), including The Gremmie, Moon Dawg and Shootin' Beavers, some of them featuring the engineering skills of one Frank Zappa. In addition, you get plenty of newer material (only some of it instrumental) - some recorded in the mid-1990's, some recorded live in 2004 and one track recorded in 2005. While the old material sounds great, many of the newer tunes are firmly in the Fine Bunch Of Musicians category. As they say at one point, "Why can't old guys have fun?" which is fair enough, I suppose.

What's good? The old tunes. If you don't have the singles elsewhere, it's probably worth buying this album to get them.

What's bad? Many of the newer recordings. If you're going to tackle Jailhouse Rock, My Prayer, What A Wonderful World and Fulsom Prison Blues, you'd best be a great singer, or else bring soemthing new to the songs. Unfortunately, neither is really the case here.

HangNine Rating: Then - AB, Now - AFBOM. Go to the Crossfire website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Vivisectors - Case History Of John Doe

Who are they? "Lo-Fi Psychosurf band from deep Russian underground," or so they say. Actually it's a pretty accurate description of the way they sound, although the "Psycho" bit might be stretching it a touch. Apparantly one of a handful of Russian bands currently playing surf and instro.

What's good? Guitarist Mick Antipov leads The Vivisectors through twenty-six mostly jolly-ish instrumentals, mainly, but not exclusively, in a surf style. All are originals, with the exception of a nice version of House Of THe Rising Sun.

The sound is nicely augmented by an organ and Mick's playing is fine throughout.

The album opens with a track called Intro and closes with one called Outro - this is the sort of thing I love.

What's bad? Being of a naturally lazy disposition, I always find this number of new songs hard to grasp. Personally, I would have put out a shorter album and saved some for the next one, but that's just me.

HangNine Rating: PDG. Go to the Vivisectors website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Surfin' Lungs - Surf, Drags & Rock 'N' Roll (Wild Punk Records)

Who are they? Britain's foremost surf music legends - the Surfin' Lungs are a high octane mix of early Beach Boys and the Ramones, with just a touch of Phil Spector thrown in for good measure. With half a dozen albums already under their baggies' belts, the boys are back…. with a new drummer and a stonkin' new collection of tracks.

What's good? Where do you start? There's thirteen slabs of prime surf stomper here. From the bitter-sweet 'Been Awake All Night', through the rockin' rampage of 'Honolulu High', to the super-charged power chords of 'Psycho Surfer' - this album is a high point for the Lungs Lads. And, though most of the tracks are vocal numbers, even you instrumental purists are in for a treat with 'Open Channel D' - a hard-hittin' fix of reverbo-twang. But, for my money, the stand-out number is the title track, 'Surf, Drags and Rock 'n' Roll'.

What's bad? Well, you can't go wrong with this album. It's a scorcher. But I do have a complaint …… the Lungs should release stuff more often. When's the next one boys??

HangNine Rating: AFB. Go to the Wild Punk website for more details.

 

Billy Ramone

 

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Spookey - Spookey Cat (Killer Records)

Who are they? Japanese all girl punk band, featuring Mayumi on guitar and vocals, Minako on bass and vocals and Misaki on drums and vocals. OK, I know that's not the sort of thing we review at HangNine, but we really like them, and no one can stop us!

What's good? They look great, they play really well and the songs are great. Magnificent punk/pop anthems with huge tunes and catchy lyrics (well, OK, catchy BITS of lyrics, which is pretty much all anyone needs). Every song is a winner, but Go!! Go!! 1, SUNDAY, Driving, Spookey Cat and Wedding March get proceddings off to as brilliant start as almost any album I can name. On top of this, Spookey are a great live act; I can barely remember seeing a band have as much fun on stage as they did in Brighton recently.

What's bad? You're kidding, right? Just now, Spookey are my favourite band in the world.

HangNine Rating: AFB. Email for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Los Fantasticos - Cesare Gorgeous Presents... Return Of The Leopard Man (Hang9)

Who are they? Brighton (UK) based surf instrumental band put together by guitarist Django Deadman, (the proprietor of the HangNine website - hence my appearance here as guest album reviewer, I suppose it would have lacked credibility if Django had reviewed it himself). The other members of the band are Tim Self – guitar, trumpet, lap steel, Paul Lawrence – bass and Abe Mohsin – drums.

What's good? There are a lot of very good original tunes on here, and the arrangements are all interesting and effective. They’re particularly good at the slow dramatic spaghetti-western flavoured stuff, “Tierce de Picardi” and “Sergio” for example, occasionally aided by some sketches-of-spain trumpet. Tim also varies the texture with some very nice lap steel here and there. There’s a curiously frantic version of “Sleepwalk” which works very well, although you have to imagine you were dreaming about chasing rabbits. For some reason I can’t quite pin down there’s something very English sounding about this album – it occasionally makes me think of The Monochrome Set - remember them?

What's bad? The production is a little on the clean side for surf music. Possibly it could have benefited from having the guitars a little louder in the mix?

HangNine Rating: AB - Some of the best UK surf music you’re likely to hear. Visit the Los Fantasticos website for more details.

 

Alan Jenkins

 

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Los Twang Marvels - Pruebo De Fuego (El Toro)

Who are they? German-based band with South American members. This is every bit as good as Guitars In Orbit (a review can be found in the Archive), but that's not all that surprising, since the first five tracks can be found on that album too, this being a compilation of tracks from that album, from a 2003 EP and some new traacks specially recorded for this release.

What's good? Well, as we said before, some (if not most) of the guitar playing is fantastic, including on an utterly mental Flight Of The Bumblebee. In only slightly less frenetic mode, there's a fine version of Brazil, a tune which is always welcome at HangNine Towers. Other highlights include the very Shadows-y Cannonball and El Fenderviche.

What's bad? We'd already heard one third of the tracks on offer, so our excitement at receiving a "new" Los Twang Marvels album was somewhat tempered. Great stuff, though.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the El Toro website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Long Boards - Big Surf (El Toro)

Who are they? Another release from Spain's wonderful El Toro records. Alfredo Ramero (guitars), Jordi Porass (bass) and Ander Boda are apparently, "...playing at the same beach party as Los Straitjackets, Link Wray and Dick Dale," and it's pretty easy to see why they think that.

What's good? Plenty of tunes with which you'll be familiar, with covers of Moment Of Truth, Journey To The Stars, Banzai Washout and Big Surf along with a healthy clutch of originals, all played with great energy and verve.

What's bad? Maybe four covers out of twelve is slightly too many, since the band's original tunes seem pretty damn good to us.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the El Toro website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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And now, a special guest reviewer, since it wouldn't be right to review an album with which we are so closely connected. 

Los Fantasticos - Los Fantasticos (Hang9)

Who are they? We look out across a sandy landscape. It could be a beach with the tide way out, but there is no seaweed. Through the hazy blur of heat rising from the sand, four figures emerge on horseback riding towards us, guitars in hand. As they fill the screen the jagged drums and reverby guitar launches into the first track, "The Associate", the words "Los Fantasticos" are scrawled in red on our screen, probably in Italian if it wasn't already in Spanish! Yes, this is the second and self named album from the Brighton twangsters and although it still has all the trappings of surf instrumental music, twangy guitars, heavy reverb, pounding drums, nothing after the opening track really conjures up images of tanned dudes hangin' ten or babes on the boardwalk. Nosireebob, this here is set firmly in a dusty town on the Mexican/American border is the old west….or at least the Sergio Leone version of it, in the Andalucian desert!

What's good? Moroccan Roll moody, atmospheric and the perfect background for the scene where the bandits flee after breaking into the bank. Very impressive it is too.

Johnny Got made has a really cool tune and some impressive noodling from Tim Self on his big purple Gretsch, while Bringing Georgia To Mind, El Pichon, Maracana and Contessa Del Fuego are more slow moody aural psycho-dramas in the style that Los Fantasticos seem to have cornered so well. A Short Song About Killing continues the "Western" theme with some choice country style picking.

The Whites of Their Eyes shows the band can really kick some serious butt when they choose to, and the fabulously named The Smell of Neoprene in the Morning with some licks copped from No Time Like The Right Time and Eight Miles High segueing superbly into The Rolling Stones Paint it Black, its Eastern sounding riff somehow fitting perfectly into the sound painting created by the previous tracks. It sounds like it it shouldn't fit, but damn it, it does, like a glove.

There are so many "surf" instrumental bands in the world, it takes something different to stand out. Los Fantasticos have that in spades.

What's bad? Well, nothing much except it's pretty serious stuff so not a barrel of fun. It's a moody album, so you have to be in that mood. If you are, it's brilliant.

HangNine Rating: PDG with AB bits- Visit the Los Fantasticos website for more details.

 

Riff Randall

 

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The Thurston Lava Tube - The Thoughtful Sounds Of Bat Smuggling (Cordelia)

Who are they? The best band in Leicester! "What," they chorused, "even better than the godawful Kasabian?" Yes folks, even better than Kasabian. As some of you will know, Alan Jenkins and his merry men (Mat Bartram on drums and Marshall Cavendish on bass) and merry woman (Blodwyn P Teabag on organ) make music that is a rather splendid mix of surf/Shadows influenced instrumentals and downright oddness. As fans of their previous release, The Pink Elephant With Nipples For Tusks, we at HangNine were eagerly awaiting this album and it certainly doesn't disappoint. On top of this, they're jolly decent folks and are welcome to sleep on the floor at HangNine Towers again anytime they wish.

What's good? As ever; great tunes, great playing and a somewhat quirky sense of fun.

A version of Miserlou that, for once, doesn't have me thinking, "Oh God, another version of Miserlou." This not inconsiderable feat is achieved by the simple expedient of having Blodwyn's organ carry the melody, so the tune sounds nothing like Dick Dale - genius.

More great titles: Fear The Bat Smuggler; In The Keeler Gap (although I'm not sure this is a place I'd like to go!); The Points, As You Call Them, Will Not Be Changed (it's that subordinate clause that does it for me every time) and Guardian Of The Soul Of Derrek.

THAT fuzztone guitar on Tide Of Jam.

Great cover art, featuring an extremely cross-looking drumming tiki and three rather amused-looking, instrument-playing (and upside down) bat-tikis - all in the most cartoonish of shades.

Fans of the band's more outre, "experimental" moments will love Bag Territory (all eleven minutes of it). Those with the attention span of a child with ADHD (that's me folks) might prefer Organ Failure and Message Two (clocking in at just over a minute between them) as the source for their quirkiness.

We'll Gather Lilacs In The Spring Again is a pretty unexpected choice for a cover, but then Alan is the man behind Beyond The Sea, so we should expect the unexpected.

What's bad? I have the attention span of a child with ADHD and find Bag Territory a bit of a challenge.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Cordelia website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Mister Neutron - Red Triangle (Deep Eddy Records)

Who are they? The most powerful three-piece surf/instrumental band on the East Coast, or so they claim (we assume that they are referring to the east coast of the USA and not that they're huge in Dundee or Cromer). Red Triangle is their second CD for the Austin-based Deep Eddy label and features seven sparkling originals and covers of Dick Dale's The Wedge and the Eddie Angel-penned The Casbah.

What's good? Comanchero is a sublime spaghetti western thing, featuring acoustic rhythm guitars and some fabulous trumpet. If you've visited HangNine much, you'll know we are suckers for trumpet.

Attack Of The Sea People is mental - and only in a good way.

Some thunderous playing from the Fanelli brothers (OK, I'm only guessing they're brothers, but I reckon there's a fair chance I'm correct) - Damian on guitar and Tony on bass and from drummer Drew Paradine.

What's bad? Comanchero hints at the possibility of a somewhat broader musical pallette than the rest of the album, for the most part, actually delivers.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Mister Neutron website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Tornadoes - Charge Of The Tornadoes (Crossfire)

Who are they? Veterans of the first wave of surf music. Like their last release (Now And Then - see the archive), this album features a mixture of old and new-ish material.

The old stuff was recorded in 1962 and 1963 (some of it engineered by Frank Zappa) and much of it featured on their Bustin' Surfboards album. The newer material is a mixture of studio recordings from 1997, some live recordings from 2004 and a previously unreleased version of Bumble Bee Stomp, recorded in 2005 (the original 1963 version also features).

What's good? As usual, it's pleasure to listen to original surf instrumentals from the early '60's.

Favourite oldies include Malaguena and The Tornado.

Of the newer tunes, Talladega and Green Flash are rather nice.

What's bad? While, for the most part, the 1997 recordings are fine, there is something a little too clean and prisitine about their sound when compared to the earlier material.

That said, however, Old Shep, from Bustin' Surfboards, is execrable. It's well played; it's well sung: it's a horrible bloody song.

As on the last album, I don't care for the live material at all, I'm afraid.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the Crossfire website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Alwaro Negro - Clean!

Who are they? Italian exponents of "instrumental spy-psycho-punky-surf'n'roll music" (or so it says here), from the rather beautifully named town of Latina. Clean is a demo CD-R, featuring nine riff-heavy tracks, which proudly wears its influence (Dick Dale, The Ventures, The Trashmen, Man or Astroman and The Phantom Surfers - or so it says here) on its sleeve.

What's good? A powerful, in-your-face, sound, with some fine playing from Crasto (drums), Andrea (bass), Ro (guitar) and Wa (guitar).

The drums in the intro to Centrifuge: massive!

What's bad? While riffs abound, melody is in fairly short supply.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the Alwaro Negro website for more details.

 Jon Deadman

 

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Lost At Sea (FuzznSurf Records)

What is it? Four track 7 inch split EP, featuring The Invisble Surfers (from Greece), The Supersonicos (from Uruguay), Pozor Vlak (from Germany) and The Tommy's (from Australia). The EP is dedicated to the late great Link Wray and, on listening, it's not hard to see why.

What's good? Great tunes. The Invisible Surfers' Cobra Skin Neck Tie (featuring an introduction from Unsteady Freddie himself), is a rockabilly workout; The Supersonicos' Pipemind (Fuzzy Version) is short, sweet and, well, fuzzy. Pozr Vlak's Brainwave is the most "surf" offering here, while The Tommys' Grow Fins is raw and the only vocal number.

Determinedly lo-fi (if you like that kind of thing).

What's bad? Pipemind is so short and sweet you will want to play it again, which is kinda fiddly with vinyl.

Determinedly lo-fi (if you don't like that kind of thing).

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the FuzznSurf website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Alan Jenkins and The Thurston Lava Tube - Free Surf Music #3 (Cordelia)

Who are they? As the title suggests, the third title in the Free Surf Music series, featuring what I take to be an early line-up of Alan Jenkin's current band The Thurston Lava Tube. Tracks were apparantly recorded between 1999 and 2001 and feature the now familiar (to anyone who's heard with Free Surf Music #1 or 2) mix of madness and rather splendid surf/Shadows-style instrumentals.

What's good? For those who like oddity, there's plenty to satisfy, including Deer and Antelope in Las Vegas part one, Section of a Beetle's Cuticle and Badly Painted Cheese. Meanwhile, for those who like great twanging guitar-instrumentals, there's Deer and Antelope in Las Vegas part two, I Want Dick, I Walk the Lion, Talking Cat, Deploy the Frog Exaggerator, What Moose and the rather gorgeous The Governor's Beach.

As usual, some great titles. A particular favourite is I Walk the Lion and, whatever a Frog Exaggerator is, I want one and I want it NOW.

Blodwyn P. Teabag's keyboards.

What's bad? Perhaps a little less focussed than the most recent Thurstons album, The Pink Elephant With Nipples for Tusks, but damn fine all the same.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Cordelia website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Reckless Reefers - Over The Edge

Who are they? Straight ahead instro-surf band from San Bernadino in Southern California.

What's good? Beautifully played selection of tunes, with fine attention to tone.

A rather nice surfing cover photograph.

What's bad? While playing this album makes for an extremely pleasantly spent thirty minutes or so, none of its tracks is particularly likely to grab you by the throat and demand that you put them on again immediately, which tends to be the mark of a great release.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the Reckless Reefers website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Los Tiki Phantoms - Regresa LA Tumba (BCore)

Who are they? A fine rocking instro band from Barcelona (Europe really does have some great bands right now), who appear absolutely terrifying in the leopard skin-trimmed smoking jackets and skull masks, sported on the album sleeve and in their publicity photograph. Unfortunately the press release is in Spanish (or maybe Catalan). this is perfectly reasonable for a band from Barcelona, of course, but it didn't make a whole heap of sense here, so we're unable say too much about the band, although both the Neanderthals and Los Straitjackets get a mention in there somewhere. The press release does categorise the band as Surf/Punk Instrumental, which describes them pretty well.

What's good? Hight energy rock'n'roll playing, tempered by sweeter moments, such as Biarritz and the Sleepwalk-esque Ojos Verdes.

The on-stage-introduction-style opening to the title track (which also features some pretty splendid theremin squeals low in the mix).

A great Spaghetti Western number (for which we are always suckers) in the shape of Saguetti.

The smoking jackets.

The skull masks.

What's bad? Rather than take the traditional route of sending a CD for review purposes, we were given special access to a download of the tracks on the album and the front cover artwork. This is opbviously the twenty-first century way of doing things, but we rather like having real CDs to add to the collection!

Not too much in the way of classic surf guitar tones here, if that bothers you. It doesn't bother us unduly.

HangNine Rating: AB - go to their MySpace stie for more information..

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Plungers - The Band That Time Forgot (No Sweat Records)

Who are they? A seven piece band from Austin, Texas, featuring three guitars, bass, Fender VI (always a good thing), baritone guitar, 12-string guitar, electric sitar and drums. On some tracks the band is augmented with yet more guitars (on Heavy Duty Plunger), lap and pedal steels and percussion: so not the sparsest of sounds, as you might imagine. The sleeve notes proudly proclaim that, "No acoustic guitars or keyboards were used on this recording," although, overall, this is a somewhat less rocking album than all of this might lead you to expect (although they cetainly can rock out when they choose). The album is pretty long, at fifty-five minutes and features twenty-five tunes, including a medley of Astronauts numbers.

What's good? Excellent, accomplished playing by everyone involved.

Some decent tunes.

Fender VI AND baritone guitars!

What's bad? If you like your surf music raw and rocking, some of this album may not be for you.

By and large, us rock'n'roll types should avoid trying to play reggae (The Simple Life), we feel.

HangNine Rating: PDG.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Sidemen - Go Too Far (Zentral Records)

Who are they? Well, if the sleeve notes are to be believed (and they are rather enigmatic), "There are rumours concerning their obscure Eastern European origin." Suffice to say, The Sidemen are signed to a German lable and have a website with a .de address. It seems that they live on a diet of caffeine and never dress casually, which would account for the rather dapper looking guys dressed in crisp white shirts and skinny black ties, who gaze out rather sinisterly from the back of this nicely packaged CD. So, after all that, what are we expecting The Sidemen to sound like? Theme music for films about rather sinsister caffeine-addicted Eastern European spies, that's what! Guess what, they do! Well, OK, that's a bit of an over-simplification; for one thing, there are covers of Mr Moto, Walk Don't Run and tunes written by Eddie Angel and Bobby Fuller, but there are also versions of John Barry's theme from The Persuaders and Danny Elfman's from Sledge Hammer, which contribute a little to the spy idea.

What's good? Good, strong, original tunes. Good choice of covers. Good sounds. Good shirts and ties.

What's bad? If was being picky, I would be looking for a little more variety in mood, but I'm not being all that picky right now.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Sidemen website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Vibrants - The Exotic Guitar Sounds Of... (El Toro)

Who are they? Yet another release on the wonderful El Toro Records' Reverb Series from Spain. The Vibrants serve up a fine-sounding selection of "wet sounds for your dancing pleasure," half of it instrumental, the other half vocal, in a kind of Untamed Youth, but not quite, style. Around half the tracks are covers. Both tunes and songs are firmly rooted in the 1960's, which is a pretty good place to be, but don't be expecting anything terribly groundbrreaking here.

What's good? The instrumentals are very much to our taste, reminscent, at times, of The Atlantics and with plenty of surf-twang.

The sleeve notes are written by Father Dick, someone we came to love very much when visiting Calella a few years back (he is, it must be said, quite mad!).

The cover also features a lovely collection of guitars, which always makes us envious, but in a good way.

What's bad? Well, the vocal numbers are a little less to our taste. As mentioned above, like the Untamed Youth, but not quite. That "not quite" is pretty important.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the El Toro website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Phantom Four - Madhur (Mirananda Records)

Who are they? Anyone who had the same good fortune as we at HangNine did and managed to see The Treble Spankers will know what a great band they were and what a great guitarist was Phantom Frank; indeed, in terms of tone, I thought that they were the best sounding instrumental band I had seen at the time. Sadly the Treble Spankers had to call a halt to proceedings in 1997, due to Phantom Frank's troubles with RSI (an occupational hazard for frantic double-picking guitarists). But, hallelujah, Phantom Frank is back and his new band, The Phantom Four, are as great as you will remember The Treble Spankers being. Frank handles both guitar and sitar duties and is joined by Marnix Krabbendam on guitar, Marc de Regt on bass and Niels Jansen on drums.

What's good? Fabulous Arabic/North African-influenced tunes. Phantom Frank is back and this time he uses a sitar as well! Beautiful, desert landscape photographs on the CD cover.

What's bad? The Phantom Four are from the Netherlands. No bad thing in itself, but I see no sign of any UK gigs in the near future: this is a very bad thing.

HangNine Rating: AFB - Visit the Phantom Four website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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Michael Lindner - Cocktail Napkin (Alley One Music)

Who is he? Michael Lindner began playing the accordion at the age of eight. In 1964 he was inspired by the Beatles to take up the bass guitar and he's been playing it ever since. Of most interest to HangNine readers is likely to be the fact that Michael has been in the splendid Aqua Velvets since 1982. Here he presents us with eight original (although not especially surfy) instrumentals and four of his favourite vocal songs from the 1960's (Little Red Book, Endless Sleep, 2000 Man and Party Doll) and, with the exception of Pete McRae's lead guitar on Party Girl. Michael plays everything (he also priduced, engineered and did the cover art - so quite a tour de force).

What's good? As I know, it's all too easy when working entirely on your own to become rather one dimensional in what you produce; it can be very difficult to provide all the ideas, while also remembering to get all those technical dtails right as well. Michale Lindner, however, succeeds in not falling into this trap. The instrumentals, particularly, are never less than interesting and some are truly captivating, with special mention having to be made of the Indian-flavoured Whirling, the lovely Birth-Day-2004, Conquistador, and 8 Strings.

What's bad? The covers are fairly straightforward (although Endless Sleep is a seriously strange song, which I had never knowingly heard before), despite being lovingly crafted. The instrumentals are much better (but we would say that, wouldn't we?).

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the Alley One Music website for more details.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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'63 Burnout - Trouble At The Speedway (Go Guitar Records)

Who are they? Seattle-based instrumental rock'n'roll band featuring the signature guitar tones (or so says the promo-blurb) of Thom Beckman, Jim Freeman on bass and Rodd Karp on drums. Apparantly these guys have featured in several legendary Pacific North west bands, although we have to confess that none of them have reached our ears in sunny Brighton, UK. The album certainly is pretty rocking, leaning heavily on Thom's riffing, layed over a solid rhythm section, although it does also have it's more laidback moments (eg Drag The Lake and Sleepwalk) and even features acoustic guitar picking on Pin Up Doll.

What's good? These guys can sure play and rock up quite a storm when they put their minds to it.

The band's theme tune, '63 Burnout is mighty fine indeed, as is Theme From "Attacko".

Nice versions of Pipeline and Sleepwalk.

Beautifully presented promo pack (I know, I know, we're just suckers for the superficial stuff).

What's bad? This album is not big on melody.

Pipeline, in particular, is a tune which has been much covered, which always makes it pretty risky to cover yet again!

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the '63 Burnout website for more details.

Our apologies for taking so long to review this album, but we've been hellishly busy what with our real-life jobs and with being confined to our sickbeds.

 

Jon Deadman

 

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The Illuminoids - Secret Society of Surf Guitar (Suppressed Records)

Who are they? A very nice sounding band with a long list of influences listed on the CD cover. Most of the usual instro-suspects turn oup on this list, although they are keen to emphasise their love of The Shadows and the Atlantics and a clutch of more recent bands too.

What's good? Some nice originals and covers of El Cid, Theme From Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Ghost Riders in the Sky. There's also a tribute to Ivan Pongracic, formerly of the Space Cossacks and now of the Madeira, in the shape of The Czar of the Surf Guitar.

A nice mixture of the slightly more uptempo and the more European-Shadows end of things.

What's bad? Guitar sounds apart, this album has the veneer of a very modern production, somewhat at odds with the material.

HangNine Rating: PDG - Visit the Illuminoids website for more details.  

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Veterans - The Veterans (It's Alive Records)

Who are they?Side project for Andrea, from Italian punksters The Manges. It certainly sticks pretty close to that band's Ramones template, but brings in a somewhat more obvious vocal-surf influence, with covers of the Beach Boys' Be True To Your School, the Surfin' Lungs' Oceanside Park and Surfer's Holiday from the 1964 movie Muscle Beach Party. The Surfin' Lungs provide backing vocals on Be True To Your School, Oceanside Park and Hula Girl, while Chris Pearce also adds organ on these tracks and ukulele on Hula Girl. At this point I should declare an interest, since the Lungs recorded their parts in my studio (and you may even notice my rather rudimentary lap-steel playing on Hula Girl!).

What's good? Great songs, great energy, great playing and great fun.

What's bad? That lap-steel player!

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the It's Alive website for more details.

Jon Deadman   

 

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The Incredible Mr Smith - Adventures In The Land Of Twang (General Schallplatten)

The Razorblades - The Dark Side Of The Beach (General Schallplatten)

Who are they?Two albums from Germany, featuring guitarist and jolly nice chap Martin Schmidt. The Razorblades are a high-octane four piece surf instrumental band with some great tunes, while Adventures in the Land of Twang is basically a solo album from MArtin,featuring the wondrous drumming of Dusty Watson.

What's good? Not only do the Razorblades play some mighty fine and twangsome numbers, they also specialise in very funny between song snatches of dialogue (our favourite being, "Hey guys, I got a question. you don't look like a surf band, do you play in a metal band too." To which the only reasonable answer would seem to be the band's chanted, "Fuck off.") On top of all this, they can do moody, laid back and tender too, at least in places (try out Girl In The Front Row or Love Hurts But You Can Dance Your Pain Away). We can't wait to see this band in the UK next year.

Adventures in the Land of Twang features twenty-one collaborations between Martin and uber-surf-drummer Dusty and a much wider pallete of sounds and styles than the Razorblades album. There's some really rather beautiful slide playing (pick of the bunch maybe being opener Gimme My Second of Fame), rock'n'rollers, plenty of surf-style twanging and plenty of between-song banter too.

Lovely packaging.

Dusty Watson.

What's bad? Adventures in the Land of Twang is around 70 minutes long. We tend to like our albums a little shorter.

In places, the rock'n'rollers on Adverntures in the Land of Twang teeter rather close to heavy metal.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Razorblades and Incredible Mr Smith websites for more details.

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Madeira - Carpe Noctem (Double Crown Records)

Who are they? Latest band to feature the considerable guitar playing skills of former Space Cossacks frontman, Ivan Pongracic. If you know the sound of the Space Cossacks, or have been lucky enough to hear either of the earlier Madeira releases (which somehow we have not been!), then you'll know to expect music of the highest qwuality from this album. You're unlikely to be disappoiunted.

What's good? Grandeur (Carpe Noctem itself), maniacal double-picked mayhem (Wreak Havoc, Rolling Thunder, The Saracen), several nice tunes perched somewhere between two more of Ivan's major influences, the Shadows and the Atlantics (Undercurrents, El Flaco, SOS) and a couple of more acoustic and reflective numbers (Infidel and End of the Circle).

Six-string bass guitar - we like six-string bass gutar!

What's bad? Not a whole lot really.

HangNine Rating: AFB - Visit the Madeira website for more details. Then buy this album. then stick it on your iPod. Modern surf of the highest order!

Jon Deadman 

 

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Long Boards - Motorhythm (El Toro)

Who are they? Follow up release from Spain's Long Boards, to first album, Big Surf, which you'll find reviewed in our archive. Once again, this album features some sparkling originals and a handful of covers (Link Wray's I'm Branded and Mr Guitar, along with Harlem Nocturn and Lullaby of the Leaves).

What's good? As we've come to expect from the splendid El Toro, this is another quality release. Longboards play really well, have a great sound and some of the faster numbers are particulalrly impressive, with our favourites being Motorhythm (which the band obviously like too, since it appears twice!), Delmar, I'm Branded (this won't surprise anyone who knows of our Link Wray weakness), Lullaby of the Leaves, Old Race Car and Le Mans.

The really rather nice choral opening to Mothra.

Two tracks (I'm Branded and the second version of Motorhythm) are in mono: this is the kind of retro-chic of which we wholeheartedly approve and they sound no less good for it.

What's bad? For understandable reasons (postage cost and the tendency of the damn things to crack), many CDs get sent out for review without jewel cases, but we like jewel cases - El Torro, take note!

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the El Toro website for more details.

Jon Deadman 

 

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Further Beyond The Sea (Cordelia)

What is it? Long awaited follow up to the Beyond The Sea compilation of a few years back, brought to you by the splendid Alan Jenkins at Cordelia and in which, "The surf instrumental bands of the world miraculously extend their repertoire." The first album presented surf bands from around the world covering (supposedly) unlikely tunes. Some of those tunes were a little less unlikely than Alan would have liked, so this time they had to be tunes from post 1990, although this rule has been less than vigourously applied in a few cases.

What's good? There is certainly a far more eclectic selection of material than on the previous release. Particular favourites (and I won't be making any mention of my own band, Los Fantasticos, doing Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out Of My Head) are Los Banditos' take on Depech Mode's Personal Jesus, The B-Sea Surfers revealing the rather unexpected beauty in the Libertines' Up The Bracket, Alan Jenkins' own band, the splendid Thurston Lava Tube, whose version of the Spice Girls' Wannabe is typically bonkers, Russian Dance by Gulag Tunes and The Lost Boys of Penzance taking on The Fountains of Wayne's Stacy's Mom.

The album closes with The Glasgow Tiki Shakers proving that Oasis' Champagne Supernova is a much better tune (as opposed to song) than I had ever realised. Biggest surprise of all, though, is that I really like bloody Elton John's The Circele of Life (from the bloody Lion King, for Chrissakes!) as performed by the Swamp Collers. Now that really was unexpected.

Lovely artwork, as we have come to expect from Cordelia.

What's bad? On any compilation of twenty-two tracks, there will be some that you will probably skip after a hearing or two, but that's only to be expected.

HangNine Rating: AB - Visit the Cordelia website for more details.

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Thurston Lava Tube - Year of the Dog (Cordelia)

Who are they? When a band (and one of their girlfriends) has slept in your house and taken you out for a splendid breakfast the next morning, it's hard to think badly of them. When they are "psychedelic, experimental, surf instrumental band from Leicester" The Thurston Lava Tube and they make an album as good as this one, it's pretty much impossible. Apparently, this is the band's first album in four years, although I find it impossible to believe that four years have passed since the last one, The Thoughtful Sounds of Bat Smuggling. Alan Jenkins (guitar), Blodwyn P Teabag (organ), Marshall Cavendish (bass) and Matt Bartram (drums) are on splendind form here; twanging guitars, fuzz, organ, great tunes, great covers, organ, eccentric song titles and more organ: what more could a reviewer want? Well, just for good measure, you get three videos thrown in and a couple of MP3 versions of Lava Tube gigs (apparently, smilar live extras are also included on the last two albums, but since the band ommited to tell anyone about them, it's unlikely that many people have heard them!).

What's good? I must start with the videos. One is a pretty straightforward, recording of the band playing Don't Borrow Dominoes From A Black Man (whyever not? On the rare occasions that I have needed to borrow dominoes, I have been pretty unconcerned as to the skin colour of the lender), another a pretty informative and very funny piece in which Blodwyn introduces us to some of her favourite compact organs, but pick of the bunch is a hilarious (and very cheaply made) accompaniment to the version of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust found on the album. If you don't know the words to this song, the effect will be totally lost on you and you will think that you are watching a random selection of stills. If you know the words you will be rolling in the aisles: genius.

The audio content is also exceptional. Favourites being the fuzz laden The Hitler Goat Fuck, the aforementioned Don't Borrow Dominoes... Action Dog (particulasrly the psychedelic wigout section in the middle) and the closing The Poisoned Porn Variation, which is more fun than the opening The Poisoned Pawn Variation, if only for the orgasm noises.

Great cover versions too. I think I have commented before that Pipeline gets covered rather too often, but this version is very good, while I wanna Hold Your Hand and Ziggy Stardust are fantastic.

What's bad? If you like your surf music on the trad side, The Thurston Lava Tube may not be quite your cup of tea, but you'd be missing out.

HangNine Rating: AFB. Visit the Cordelia website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Razorblades - Twang Machine (General Schallplatten)

Who are they? Killer three piece instrumental surf band from Germany. We liked their last album, but having just seen them play live in our hometown and finally realised just how great they are, we like this one a whole lot more. The album features a host of high octane twanging guitar instrumentals, which only very occasionally veer a little more towards rock than rock'n'roll. Interspersed amongst all of this instro mayhem are several rather lovely slower numbers.

What's good? Rob Razorblade (Martin Schmidt) is an awesome guitarist, up there with some of the very best of modern exponents of this music, and he's ably assisted by his two compadres, Regina on drums and Ray on bass.

Some great titles (Hit The Shit Out Of It, Grease Your Hair And Get Tattooed, Trouble With The Style Police, The Lonely Record Collector and, best of all, Thanks For The Offer, But I'll Cry In My Beer Instead).

The last album featured lots of jokey between song bits, which we really rather liked. However, Martin tells us that we were firmly in the minority on this point and they've been toned down here, although there are still a few.

Favourite tunes? Life's Too Good To Waste It Away, Adrenalin Twist, Grease Your Hair and Get Tattooed, Hey Little Punk Girl (it really DOES sound punky), Fast And Loud (which is, you've guessed it, fast and loud and features some heroic double-picked guitar and bits where they shout "Fast and Loud," which is cool), Thanks for the Offer, But I'll Cry In My Beer Instead, which is just gorgeous. To be honest, though, there's not a duff tune here.

What's bad? While the album sounds great, perhaps some of the sheer power of the Razorblades' live sound is lost in the recording process, but I'm just being picky now.

HangNine Rating: AFB - stick this on your iPod now, you will want to hear it often. Visit the Razorblades website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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Thee Jaguar Sharks (Wahalla Music)

Who are they? Three piece purveyors of instrumental surf and garage from Phoenix, Arizona,apparently. Featuring Jim Miles on guitar, Tony Robinson on bass (Tony also sat in the producers chair) and Nick Pasco on drums. According to their press release, the album combines vintage sounds with a modern sheen and this is actually a pretty decent deccription of this eponymous release.

What's good? Great attention to detail regarding the sound and deft playing make this debut album sound pretty impressive from the off.

Particular favourites include: the sprightly opener, Lobster Rumble, Manta's Dream, which features some rather lovely Hawaiian backing vocals, and the brooding Temptation at Danger Cove.

What's bad? While strong on both tone and atmosphere, the album perhaps lacks a little on the melody front.

Having played in a band named after Jan and Dean's Dead Man's Curve, I feel a little proprietorial towards this song. The instrumental version contained here is, unfortunately, not to our taste at all. Fortunately, it is not representative of the album in any way

HangNine Rating: PDG. Visit the Thee Jaguar Sharks   website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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Surfin' Lungs - Full Petal Jacket (Wild Punk Records)

Who are they? Vocal surf verterans from "Surf City" UK. The Lungs released their first album, Cowabunga, back in 1985. Full Petal Jacket is their seventh in all and features the now familiar combination of great tunes, soaring Beach Boys harmonies, twangsome guitars and shimmering Farfisa organ lines.

What's good?You want songs about girls, songs about sunshine, songs about surfin' and songs about beach parties? The Surfin' Lungs have them in (buckets and) spades! Surf Bus, The Girl's Gone Wild, Talk of the Locker Room, Bubblegum Summer, Perfect Summer, She's a Surf Punk... need I go on? No, I need not!

Not only that; they write and play great instrumental numbers too (in this case the cracking 97XFU and Ungawa).

The cover photograph; it's fab.

The perfect antidote to the snows which are currently covering the entire United Kingdom

What's bad? I have to wait another month and a half in freezing Brighton until I get to see them play in Barcelona. However, this album will just about keep me going until then.

HangNine Rating: AFB. Visit the Surfin' Lungs   MySpace site for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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3 Balls of Fire - Best of the Balls 1988-2000 (Deep Eddy Records)

Who are they? From Austin, Texas, 3 Balls of Fire, AKA the men with the burning guitars, were formed by guitarist Mike Vernon in 1985. This album is a re-issue of a retrospective which first saw the light of day in 1998 and features an aditional six tracks over that release. For those new to the sound of the Balls, like us, they fuse surf with jazz and rhythm and blues.

What's good? Mike Vernon is a guitarist with a distinctive and highly tasteful finger-picking style, which sets him apart from most of the players featured on these pages (not thet they can't be distinctive and tasteful too, you understand).

A fine and varied collection of atmospheric tunes, of which the sprightly Pipeline to Baghdad is among our favourites.

What's bad? While there can be no doubting the quality of the musicianship on show here, we'd probably prefer a greater empahsis on the surf over the jazz and rhythm and blues styles, but that's just us.

HangNine Rating: PDG. Visit the Deep Eddy   website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Nematoads - Spy Car Mechanic (Deep Eddy Records)

Who are they? Fronted by Ted James, formerly of Squid Vicious and proprietor of Deep Eddy Records, The Nematoads are from Austin Texas and on this, their third album they sure prove that they can rock like a very rocking thing indeed. Ted's guitar is joined by powerhouse drumming from George Pestana, The Pope (surely not the actual Pope) on bass and Tiger Anaya on trumpet.

What's good? Ted told me that he thought I would like The Nematoads and he wasn't wrong. Regular readers will know that we at HangNine towers tend to swoon when a trumpet is involved and I was won over about thirty seconds into opening track, Rex Dart: Eskimo Spy, when the walking bass intro ends and that trumpet riff kicks in. Fabulous. Most of what follows is equally thrilling stuff; some favourites amongst the originals being Johnny Turbo: Spy Car Mechanic, Squid Racer, Death Garage and album closer Rancho Cucamonga.

The covers. Misirlou can suffer from over-familiarity and I wasn't especially grabbed by this version at first, but then, guess what? The trumpet kicks in and lifts the whole thing to another level. Link Wray's Rawhide, is simply tremendous; even the jazz break in the middle couldn't put me off.

Some of the titles are great too; most particularly No. Mr. Bond. I Expect You To Surf!

Not only does it rock. Not only does it have trumpet. It has theremin too. What more do you want?

What's bad? Not much here for the trad lovers. Ted, famously, eschews Fender guitars and, seemingly, typical surf tones too.What the hell, we love it anyway.

HangNine Rating: AFB. Visit the Deep Eddy website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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George Tomsco of the Fireballs - Har Lee Guitar (Deep Eddy Records)

Who are they? New Mexico's The Fireballs have been playing instrumental rock'n'roll since the late 1950's, so definitely qualify as veterans and true originals. This album is, rather confusingly, credited to George Tomsco of the Fireballs, rather than The Fireballs; presumably because it is a collection of eleven Firbeballs tunes, one by Wes Dakus, one by George Tomsco and the Dots and two by Gary Lee Swafford (all, obviously, featuring George's guitar playing).

What's good? Guitar playing of the very highest order.

Six string bass on Carioca (we do like some nice six string bass).

Sprightly tunes, which will set your toes tapping and help you to understand George's influence, not only on American instrumental music, but on the likes of The Shadows and, I would guess, The Atlantics too. We especially liked: the title track, Indian Nation, Sweet Talk, which also features some rather nice whistling, and Mexican Fun.

What's bad? While mainly steering just about the right side of cheesy, some readers may find parts of this album a little too "easy listening" for their tastes.

HangNine Rating: PDG. Visit the Deep Eddy  website for more details.

Jon Deadman 

 

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The Bambi Molesters - As The Dark Wave Swells (Dancing Bear)

Who are they? At last, the return of one of our HangNine's very favourite bands. It's an ubelievable nine years since the release of the Bambi's last album, Sonic Bullets: 13 From The Hip and we were beginning to think they'd gone for good. Praise the Lord, though, because The Bambi Molesters are back - and then some.

What's good? One of the things that I truly love about the music that Dalibor, Dinko, Lada and Hrvoje make is its ability to sound grandiose, without resorting to bombast or pretention, and the opening title track is almost the ultimate expression of this grandeur. When I first heard As The Dark Wave Swells on the internet I was both gobsmacked and reduced almost to tears. It is cinematic in its scope, the swell of the strings, the drama of the trumpet: simply gorgeous.

Well, the first track is a hard act to follow, that's for sure, but The Bambi Molesters give it a damned good go: there's Euro-spy-style tunes in the shape of The Kiss-Off and Panic Party; there's spaghetti western twang from Point Of No Return and Into The Crimson Sunset; there's the fuzz and slide drama of Wrong Turn; there's the almost punk rock energy of Mindbender and the fantastic cover of Jeujene and the Jaybops' Thunderin' Guitar (which will likely have you seeking out the original; it certainly had me doing so), there's a splendid version of Ernesto Lecuona's Siboney, there's the lovely Lazy Girl's Hangout and there's the rousing closer Rising East. And then it's time to listen all over again - and you certainly will, because this album is fantastic.

Some great doubling of lead lines on baritone guitar.

Strings!

Horns!!

What's bad? There is nothing bad about this album, nothing at all.

HangNine Rating: Beg, borrow, buy, download or, if you have to, steal this album now. There will not be a better instrumental album released this year and there won't be many better in any other year either. Visit the Dancing Bearwebsite for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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Plantagenet 3 - Plantagenet 3 (Jitter)

Who are they? Plantagenet 3 describe themselves as, "a lof-fi instrumental trio from London", although the two tracks here, Theme From An Imaginary Western and Surf Route 101 Revisited, seem to feature only one musician; Richard Lanyon. They describe their music as "post-surf"(but do admit that this is a pretty daft name for a genre) and claim to be influenced by surf, spy and Spaghetti Western instrumentals, alongside post-rock.

What's good? These two tunes are not exactly your standard surf fare and if you're looking for something more experimental and, as they have it, "stripped-down", then Plantagenet 3 could be just the band you're looking for.

What's bad? While the sound is sufficiently twangsome, melody is not exactly this band's strong point, so, if that's what you're looking for, you might well be disappointed.

HangNine Rating: An interesting debut; we'll be listening out for more from them. Visit Plantagenet 3's MySpace site for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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El Ray - Chasing Ray (Blackout)

Who are they? A four-piece from Denmark, featuring the splendidly named El Firetone and El Twang on guitars, La Chiquilla on bass and El Fuerte on drums, El Ray have been playing since 2001, although somehow we managed to miss out on them until we saw their great show at Surfer Joe in June. Chasing Ray is their fifth album and one which we think you'll like, featuring as it does a varied sonic pallette: there are twanging guitars, rocking guitars, screaming, chants, subtle hints of synthesizer, theremins and melodicas all to be enjoyed.

What's good? Great sounds, great playing and great tunes abound.

Impala Joy Ride, which was a highlight of their live set in Livorno.

The way they sound almost like The Pixies on Bob Hund.

Some lovely slower numbers, such as Burlesque - A Velvet Sound and ...And So They Surfed Away (I so wish I'd thought of that title!).

Theremins are not all that unusual in surf music, but melodicas are: we like them both and Flying Saucer Theme seems to have them both; can't be bad.

What's bad? Live, El Ray are an extremely visual (and funny) band. None of this comes across on CD, unsurprisingly, and I was a bit disappointed on first listen. Never fear, though; persistence and repeated listening will reward you handsomely.

Visiting El Ray's website for the first time, I was very sad to hear of the death in 2006 of Jan Povlson, Danish surf music nut and someone I was privileged to meet in London in my time in Dead Man's Curve.

HangNine Rating: Buy this album! Indeed, had we not already done so, we'd be buying one ourselves. Go to the El Ray website for more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Deadlies - Meet The Deadlies

Who are they?The Deadlies, from the Bay Area of San Francisco, claim to be "the cutting edge of the new wave of instrumental surf music" and are obviously well-connected, what with support slots with the B-52's and a regular gig as the house band on Kreepy KOFY Movie Time on KOFY TV20. Their debut album is also produced by a big name producer (Jack Douglas) so James Patrick Regan (guitar), Bob St Laurent (bass) and Jim Lang (drums) must be doing something right. The album itself certainly steers well clear of trad surf, with some of the tunes (most notably opener Teahupo'o) seemingly taking Dick Dale's claim to be the father of heavy metal pretty seriously, while often largely eschewing surf tones and stylings.

What's good? These guys are all clearly experienced musicians and it's reflected in their playing.

Morgan Speaks is really rather lovely and bonus track Pig Farm features some very nifty rockabilly-style guitar.

Splat! which is actually a medley of the themes from the Banana Splits and Batman, is good fun, although I'm not sure I can ever hear the Batman theme again without seeing the guitarist from The Minnesota Voodoo Men hanging by his ankles from the lighting rig at their recent Brighton gig.

The video for Teahupo'o, which features as additional content on the CD is an entertaining little extra.

What's bad? They claim that this is surf music "being played by people who surf" but how much you consider this to be true may well depend on how far you stretch your definition of the genre.

HangNine Rating: The Deadlies are well worth a listen; so go and listen. More details on their MySpace site.

Jon Deadman

 

The Nematoads - Five Guns West (Deep Eddy Records)

Who are they? We don't, as a rule, review old releases, but we lovedSpy Car Mechanic , the last album from Texans The Nematoads and guitarist Ted James, who seems like a lovely chap, sent us a copy of this release from 2007, which we also love, so thought we would give it a mention.

What's good? More great (largely) Spaghetti Western-style instrumentals from The Nematoads, augmented with fabuloius trumpet from Tiger Anaya. We especially like opener Deadwood, the title track, the extremely Spanish Entrada Del Oeste, Los Diablos, Matagorda Ba and the brief, but lovely, Cuero Gold , but there really isn't a duff track here.

The rather handsome cover artwork.

Did we mention the trumpet? Oh, we did.

What's bad? Ted is not one for sticking to surf-convention when it comes to guitar tones (or indeed, guitars), so this may not be to your liking if you're a bit of a purist. t doesn't bother us, though.

HangNine Rating: If you likedSpy Car Mechanic, you'll like Five Guns West. Well worth tracking down. Visit The Nematoads website for further details.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Trabants - Highwire Surfing (Lifted and Gifted Productions)

Who are they? Named after an East German car with a papier mache body, The Trabants, from Boston, seem to be largely the work of Eric Penna, who wrote, performed, recorded and mixed Highwire Surfing, with the help of a few friends on brass, drums, percussion, flute and harmonica.

Oh yes; the album is mixed in mono, for that authentic retro experience.

What's good? Instrumental surf music can be a pretty limiting form, if you stick rigidly to the original blue print. Not surprisingly then, many bands have tended to add influences from all sorts of other places and we're pretty well acustomed to hearing music incorporating elements of spaghetti western, spy themes, space themes, Italian 60's instrumentals as well as Spanish, Eastern European and Middle Eastern influences. While The Trabants don't cover all of these bases here there is a fairly eclectic mix. The opening title track is pretty close to the trad surf style, St Petersburg Shake transports the listener to, um, well, St Petersburg, Cinecitta 65 is very Morricone,...And The Morning After is a spy theme in waiting if ever we've heard, Berlusconi Shake, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the Italian 60's style one and the organ driven Before The Sun is like a cross between Santo and Johnny and something Joe Meek might have produced on the Holloway Road; it's also rather lovely.

What's bad? Well, all that ecelcticism might be a bit too much for some to handle.

HangNine Rating: An intriguing debut, which has clearly been something of a labour of love for Mr Penna. Further details from The Trabantswebsite .

Jon Deadman

 

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The Razorblades - Gimme Some Noise (General Schallplatten)

Who are they?The Razorblades are back, staking their claim to be one of Europe's very finest high-octane surf instrumental bands. Rob's guitar playing is electrifying, Ray's bass is big and beefy and Regina's drumming is a powerhouse; who would know that he (for indeed, Regina is a he) is a huge fan of country and western? From the very start, when some rather cheesy 70's porn theme-esque number is interrupted with the exhortation, "Come on, gimme some noise," before the band launch into the incendiary title track, this album bristles with intent.

What's good? The Razorblades are powerful, alright, but they are also tuneful, even in the midst of numbers which verge on the heavy metal; just listen toGimme Some Noise, She Looks So Cute I Wanna Die orWhy Should I Walk When I Can Run? That's not all they do, though. As you may know from the last album, Twang Machine, The Razorblades are also pretty damned good at rather gorgeous sounding slower numbers andYou & Me Under The Christmas Tree and Beam Me Out Of This Trashy Movie don't disappoint on this front. The dramatic and Spanish-soundingWatching The Blood In The Bul's Eye, uses fuzz bass to great effect, while Global Warming Party has actual singing on it, although this is handled by guests Alina Dimed, Judith Kadel (who also add some vocal parts to Lambretta Shake and Punk! Punk! Rocker) and Neil Fereday, rather than the band themselves.

As usual, some great titles. Our favourite this time around has to beRevolution? Maybe On Monday...although special mention also has to go to Let's Go Down To Brighton, a tribute to Rob's very sensible choice of favourtie town.

We, once again, quite like the between song banter, although there's only a little of it this time around.

What's bad? I'm never totally convinced that the surf-ska/reggae crossover is a terribly good idea (perhaps because I like ska and reggae too much), although it must be said that both Let's Go Down To Brighton and Global Warming Party are pretty damned nifty tunes, so maybe we can overlook this complaint.

HangNine Rating: A fab album, which seems to get better with every listen. The Razorbladeswebsite has more details.

Jon Deadman

 

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Jon and the Nightriders - Surf Beat '80 (Crossfire Publications)

Who are they? Jon and the Nightriders were the band who kick-started what is now known as the "second wave" of surf music and Surf Beat '80 is the album with which they kick-started it. This re-issue, available for the first time on CD, features the original album, with John Blair and Ed Black and on guitar, Nikki Syxx on bass and Dusty Watson on drums, alongside six bonus tracks recorded shortly afterwards and featuring Dave Wronski in place of Ed Black.

What's good? These songs, the majority of them covers (although John Blair's originals, Rumble at Waikiki, Depth Charge, Bombay Beach and Suicide Bay, absolutely hold their own), seem so familiar today, but without this band, who knows, maybe this music would have remained lost in the mists of time and it's hard to imagine how amazing they must have sounded at the tail end of the punk era. Surf music, remember, had pretty much disappeared with the arrival of the Beatles and the British Invasion and existed only as some kind of historical footnote and it's interesting to read Dick Dale's original sleeve notes, in which he states, " I was so inspired by this record that it might just be the time to pick up my gold Fender Stratocaster, come out of retirement..." and to remember that the heroes of the "first wave" had long since moved on to pastures new.

What's bad? Why did we have to wait so long for this re-issue?

HangNine Rating: If you don't already own this album, buy it now. If you do, buy it anyway.

Jon Deadman

 

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Ziggy Played Surf Guitar - The Surf Instrumental Bands of the World Play the Songs of David Bowie (Cordelia Records)

What Is It? Pretty much what it says on the tin; third compilation of cover versions from Alan Jenkins' estimable Cordelia label, this time featuring instrumental versions of David Bowie songs. Two, The Gospel According to Tony Day, by the Green Windows andDid You Ever Have a Dream by the Muffinmates are songs from Bowie's mod-ish mid-sixties era. Their are five versions of songs from Ziggy Stardust; Five Years, by Surfadelica,Starman by the Vara-Tones, Moonage Daydream by the Tomorrow Men, Ziggy Stardust by Alan's own Thurston Lava Tube andSurfer Jet City (geddit?), by the Pterodactyls. There are two versions of All The Young Dudes, form The Razorbladers (who's Martin Schmidt also contributes a solo version of Heroes). Aladdin Sane, one of my favourite Bowie albums is represented by The Jean Genie from Monkey Versus Robot, Panic in Detroit by Pollo del Mar and Los Fantasticos' version of Lady Grinning Soul. Also featured are Life on Mars by The Weaseltones, Speed of Life by the Insect Surfers and The Man Who Sold the World by the Lost Boys of Penzance. Surprisingly (to me at least, since it's the album he made after the one I consider to be his last really good one), Let's Dance offers up four songs, in the shape of Modern Love by the Swamp Coolers, China Girl by the Mighty Surf Lords, Let's Dance by the Bowbridge Band and Cat People (Putting Out Fire) by the Breakaways, although I do have to admit that they're pretty catchy tunes and I think that this album was pretty successful in America, which may explain its popularity here.

There are also bonus MP3 dowloads of the Pterodactyls take on Starman and the Weaseltones version ofAshes to Ashes available for free dowload from the Cordelia website.

Oh, there's a "hidden" version of The Laughing Gnome too. It sounds like Alan's work to me... and it made me laugh.

What's good? It's David Bowie songs... played by surf bands... instrumentally.

I first discovered David Bowie when he appeared on Top of the Pops playing Starman in 1972. He looked and sounded like he'd come from a different planet, or maybe even universe. He put his arm around the shoulder of his guitarist (Mick Ronson) and was decidedly androgynous. I was ten years old and my life was changed. The next year I bought my first ever single, Drive In Saturday, followed shortly afterwards by my first album, Aladdin Sane and, although it was stolen many years ago, I can still remember what the sleeve of that album smelled like. Bowie looked even more androgynous and some of the songs seemed ubelievably exotic, mysterious and scarily adult to me. Of course, I had no idea what quaaludes were or what wanking was, but after hearing Time, I sure as hell wanted to find out, whileLady Grinning Soul absolutely captivated me (after all, it mentioned breasts!). From there I explored Bowie's back catalogue and discovered that he'd released four previous and equally wonderful (although all very different) albums; Space Oddity,The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. I was hooked and remained so for many years, up until after the release ofScary Monsters and Super Creeps in 1980, through the blue-eyed soul period of Young Americans and Station to Station and the Berlin-era albums, Heroes, Low (a particular favourite) and Lodger. Given this history, you can imagine, I'm sure, that the idea of this album appealed to me from the outset.

What's bad? It's instrumewntal surf bands playing... David Bowie songs?

Perhaps some Bowie songs lend themselves better to this treatment than others.

There was some suggestion in some quarters that the release of this album might lead to a whole new audience for surf music, but I can't really see too many Bowie fans who don't already enjoy surf rushing out to buy a copy unfortunately. Could be their loss, though.

HangNine Rating: If you like surf and Bowie, this will sbe right up your street; if you dislike either one of those, it may well not be! Check out theCordelia website for further information.

Jon Deadman

 

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Stevie and his Sideburns/Pozor Vlak - Fuzz'n'Surf Records prasentiert... (Fuzz'n'Surf Records)

Who are they? Elke Heimorgel, guitarist with Magdeburg band Pozor Vlak at this year's Surfer Joe festival in Livorno, where we shared a few olives, while he presented us with a copy of this 10 inch vinyl album, split between his band and Berlin's Stevie and his Sideburns. We can only apologise for taking so long to getting around to reveiwing it; Elka seemed such a nice chap and the album's really good too.

Stevie and his Sideburns specialise in a largely 12-bar based and Link Wray influenced form of instrumental rock'n'roll (although their final track, Verfolgungsfahrt, is more surfy); jolly good they are at it, too. Pozor Vlak also betray a bit of a liking for Link (Schawanzus Longus, which O'Level German tells us is a rather rude title, incorporates a clever steal from Rumble), although they mix it with something much closer in both sound a spirit to Man Or Astroman?

What's good? Well, we're very fond of both Link Wray and Man Or Astroman? here at HangNine, so, as you can imagine, this album goes down a treat with us.

From Stevie and his Sideburns we have developed a particular fondness for Die Manner vom Strahlenschutz, Monster Psycho Agent (which actually succeeds in sounding like the theme from such an improbably titled movie, managing to combine the requisite Horror/Slasher/Spy elements), while Batman Dance Beat is a very sprightly take on an old favourite.

Favourites from Pozor Vlak include Atomic Drop and the very spacey Gagarin (named after the Soviet Cosmonaut, as the Russian intro explains - not that we understood any of it!) and the final track, On Trabi Island, with it's tempo changes and really very pretty sounding echo laden guitar ending.

What's bad? A whole album from both bands would have been nioce, but this will have to do for now.

HangNine Rating: Two more bands to check out when you get the chance.

Jon Deadman

 

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The Doggs - Black Love

Who are they? The Doggs are a three piece garage band from Milan, who were so keen for HangNine to review this five track CD, that they sent us two copies, despite being informed that this is not usually the sort of thing that we cover. The Doggs clearly take thier music seriously, announcing to the world, "We don't play for fun. We don't play for pleasure. We play to survive." Fortunately it's not forbidden to enjoy listening to the band, because they're pretty good.

What's good? Marco Mezzadri on bass and vocals, Christian Celsi on guitar and Grazia Mele on drums (there's some sax in there somewhere too) certainly kick up a storm, their wailing wah-wah guitar and pounding rhythms reminsicent of The Stooges with Italian accents. This is all fine by us, by the way, since we like The Stooges. The Doggs even manage to make their version ov Venus in Furs sound more like Detroit's finest than the Velvets.

If you like The Stooges and their ilk, chances are that you will like The Doggs.

What's bad? If your not a fan of The Stooges and their ilk, chances are that you probably won't like The Doggs much.

HangNine Rating: Well worth a listen and, we guess, pretty good live too. Find out morehere .

Jon Deadman

 

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The Sunmakers - Viens Twister Ce Soir (Violent Lovers Records)

Who are they? We saw Bordeaux three-piece The Sunmakers at the 2010 Surfer Joe festival in Livorno and greatly enjoyed their surf'n'twist blend of perky vocal numbers and twangsome instrumentals. Consequently we were really looking forward to the arrival of this album and Viens Twister Ce Soir certainly didn't dissapoint us.

What's good? The Sunmakers are well named indeed. It's a bitterly cold December day here in Brighton, but, with the sound of The Sunmakers bursting out of the stereo, the room is filled with the sound of sunshine and it's impossible to keep a smile from your face.

From the sprightly opener, Starfire, to the final track, Yakitori, we defy your feet to keep still and your heart not to leap, such is the joyousness of this album. The vocal numbers are pitched soemwhere in the space between The Untamed Youth and The 5, 6, 7, 8's, which is a mighty fine place to find yourself.

It's hard to pick particular favourites from such a great album, but we're especially fond of Back To You, right now, with Cettle Fille La and Yakitori close behind, while Le Rail Du Jugement Dernier is the standout of the instrumentals. Not a bad track to be found, though.

What's bad? It's hard to think of anything, to be honest.

HangNine Rating: Great stuff. Get a copy and stick it on your iPod. The check them out on MySpace .

Jon Deadman

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The Vara-tones - Have Yourself A "Vara" Merry Christmas

Who are they? The Vara-tones released their first (and only) single in 1964 and their first album, Jetty Subject To High Surf, in 2000. We really liked that album and the subsequent release Heading Out and we certainly enjoyed this collection of surf instrumental versions of favourite Christmas tunes.

What's good? The playing of Bill Epps, Rich Campbell, Gary Sunda and Terry Zimmerman is exemplary, as we have come to expect from the Vara-tones.

We particularly enjoyed versions of What Child Is This? (Greensleeves) and Angels We Have Heard On High, but these festive tunes are so familiar, that you will lilkely have your own favourites.

What's bad? I'm not a praticular fan of medleys at the best of times and A Vara Merry Medley comes dangerously close to crossing the lineinto Stars On 45 territory (a line that none should ever cross!).

While you may well enjoy playing this album during the Christmas period, you may well find that it remains on the shelf for the rest of the year.

HangNine Rating: If you were to call in at HangNine Towers on Christmas day it's hightly likely that you would hear this at some time. More details here .

Jon Deadman

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Hell-o-Tiki - Attack of Lady Octopussy

Who are they? Belgians Hell-o-Tiki were due to visit us in Brighton last year, only for their drummer to leave the band as they were about to board the ferry, causing them to cancel. We're pleased to be able to report that more than adequate replacement has been found behind the skins and that they have now delivered their debut album, Attack of Lady Octopussy. Their MySpace site describes Hell-o-Tiki's music as Electro/Garage/Suf, but to our ears they are more like a blen of surf and instrumental heavy metal; not that there is anything particulalrly wrong with that.

What's good? Great energy, good playing and some very enjoyable tunes. We particualrly liked opening track Nostromo, Chicklettes A Go Go, Keep Your Panties Out of the Bush (and not just for the title, but especially for the spooky theremin), Minimata No Neko and La Camisa Roja.

There's a welcome touch of variety in the instrumentation, including keyboards, trumpet, the aforementioned theremin and, on one track, Mandocaster.

Nice art work.

What's bad? We've not yet been able to arrange another date or the guys (and gal) to nip over the channel to Brighton!

HangNine Rating: Good stuff. More details here .

Jon Deadman

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The Good The Bad - "From 018 To 033" (Stray Cat Records)

Who are they? Self-styled Danish Desperados, The Good The Bad are The Adam, on all manner of guitars (plus piano) and JohanLei Gellett on drums and percussion. On this album they are joined by a number of accomplices on, variously, more guitars (including, to great effect, flamenco guitar on 032), vocal (not really in the"with words" sense, although there isquitea lot oforgasmic moaning on some numbers, most notably 026), violin, organ, mellotron and trumpet (regular readers will know that we like a trumpet). "From 018 To 033" is the follow-up to their debut,"From 001 To 017" (you may see pattern emerging here) and, rather disconcertingly features the tracks from that album, as tracks 001 to 017, but played on fast-forward.

The Good The Bad have also earned the not-incosiderable accolade of being described as "an incredible band" by none other than Wayne Kramer, which is praise indeed; praise whih is richly deserved if this album is anything to go by.

According to the CD cover, The Good The Bad are "The New School Surf & Flamenco") although the thing that strikes most obviously on first listen is the huge Spaghetti Western influence in the band's sound. However, as they are keen to point out, there are many other influences (they specifially mention The Kinks, The Who and Jimi Hendrix).

Tunes are generally short. 032 clocks in at 3:41, while 033 is positively epic at 4:38, but most are around the two minute mark, while 018 manages, appropriately, only 18 seconds.

What's good? They sound great; urgent and intoxicating.

Those of us who write instrumental music can someimes struggle to come up with titles for tunes; The Good The Bad have circumvented this problem, by simply numbering theirs, which is vey neat.

Favouritte tracks? For now, 019, 022, 024, 025,028, 032 and 033, but that will probably change tomorrow and you will undoubtedly have your own favourites.

What's bad? While the "first album on fast-forward" trick is pretty funny, I fear the novelty will wear off soon enough. Fortunately, this is easy to remedy; simlpy start listening at 018.

The artwork on the CD itself might upset Tipper Gore and her ilk; you have been warned!

HangNine Rating: Thrilling and highly recommended. We can't wait for "From 034 To...". More details here .

Jon Deadman

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The Space Agency - The Green Door Store, Brighton 15/02/12

The Space Agency - Galactic Guitars Best of The Space Agency (Tremolo Records)

Who are they? I first saw guitarist Simon Jones when his previous band, Vibrasonic, opened for Dick Dale in London and, asidefrom also seeing that band play on the beach in Brighton, the next time in encountered him was in famed Brighton guitar shop GAK, when he came over and started talking to me as I tried out a new Fender Jaguar. At that time his new band, The Space Agency, didn't play live, since Simon lived in Hove and his colaborator, Hiromi Fukuzawa, in Japan. Forunately for thise of us who like a good live band, that has now been rectified, with Hiromi also ensconsed in Hove and with the addition of the extremely tall Andy Bowler on drums, we now get to see them play quite often. This latest gig at the Green Door store is well up there with the best shows I have seen from the band, who always sound to me like they should be the house band at a nightclub in a Gerry Anderson show (and I mean that in an entirely good way). Simon can be a pretty quiet and shy-seeming performer, but tonight he seems to be coming out of himself and actually talks a fair bit to the audience, while Hiromi is positively bubbly and very funny.

Galactic Guitars is a compilation from the band's first three albums, The Space Agency, Galactic Vibrations andKaleidoscopic Sounds (plus one track, Surfer's Guitar, from Simon's solo album Instrumentals Vol 1 ). If you've never heard the band before, this album makes an excellent introduction to their blend of surf, fuzz, psychedelia and Japanese Eleki. Simon's incredibly nimble guitar textures intertwine beautifully with Hiromi's bass playing, while Andy's laid back, almost jazzy drumming is the perfect backdrop. Oh and Simon drops in plenty of psychedelic weirdness and theremin sounds for good measure.

What's good?Live, The Space Agency are hugely enjoyable and it's laways been a mystery to me why they seem virtually unknown in Britain, but tonight the Green Door Store is pretty full and the joint is jumping. However, none of that prepares you for just how bonkers these guys (and girl) can sound on record, but listening to Galactic Guitars will give you the full picture. Start with Flashback Guitar , you'll see what I mean.

What's bad?One of my favourite Space Agency tunes is Phantom Guitar, the one where Simon plays the main melody behind the bridge of his Mosrite; it's not on Galactic Guitars . Damn!

HangNine Rating:If you're in Europe and reading HangNine, chances are that you already know about The Space Agency. If you're in the UK, chances are that you don't, so buy Galactic Guitars now; it's great. Then go and see them next time they're playing at the end of your street. You won't regret it. More detailshere .

Jon Deadman

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The Bambi Molesters - A Night In Zagreb (Dancing Bear)

The Bambi Molesters - Tvornica Kultura, Zagreb 18/02/12

Who are they? No introduction needed to The Bambi Moletsers here, they are, quite simply, my favourite band in the world at the moment and this double CD/DVD makes the case pretty eloquently for whay that is. 18 years and four albums in your may be a pretty good time to take stock of a band's career and A Night In Zagreb is a chance to do just that, covering material from all of those albums, along with some songs performed with Chris Eckman from the album they made with he Walkabouts frontman as The Strange. There'a couple of sung covers; Johnny Kid and the Pirates' Restless (sung by Dalibor) and a really rather beautiful version of Rock and Roll Friend by The Go-Betweens (sung by Chris Eckman), while there's also a version of The Flaming Sideburns' La Bruta.

The two CDs present the whole live show as it happened, while the DVD focuses on the Bambi Molesters' instrumentals (with the addition of Tonight I Will Say Anything, with Chris Eckman), although the rest of the sung numbers and the cover of Cecilia Ann are included as bonus material. Anyone who has had the good fortune to see The Bambi Molesters live in the last couple of years will be unsurprised to find the usual quartet of Dalibor, Dinko, Lad and Hrvoje joined by Luka Bencic on keyboards and acoustic guitar and the excellent horns of Andrej Jakus and Ozren Znidaric, who provide some beautiful ornamentation which can really lift some of the tunes.

The gig at Tvornica Kultura was my fourth chance to see the band in 18 months (having previously seen them in London, at the Sufer Joe festival in Livorno and at my birthday party in Brighton), but to see them in their home town is truly amazing. A last minute change of plan means that the show has to take place in the smaller of two rooms at the venue and the atmosphere is electric, with barely room to move in the crowd (and not much more on the stage). It's rarely that you get to hear hundreds of people singing along to an instrumental (unless it's a Spanish football crowd singing the national anthem, the Marcha Real, before a match), but the crowd does just that tonight during Theme From Slaying Beuaty; it sent shivers down my spine.

What's good? It almost goes without saying that The Bambi Molesters are masters of atmosphere, but there are moments of melodic beauty in many of their tunes, which can creep up and catch you completely unawares. One such is after the brekdown in Invasion of the Reverb Snatchers; Dinko plays his guitar with a Jack Daniels bottle, it goes all moody, then suddenly, almost from nowehere, the glorious main melody returns. Another is the way that they hold back the bautiful chorus of Siboney, you can feel it coming, you keep expecting it, then, just when you think they're not going to bother this time (as if!) there it is. I defy you not to be moved by the awesome power of these moments and of this band in general. I know that there are many people in the United States who would love to have the opportunity to see The Bambi Molesters live, but now at least they can get a good idea of the experience from this DVD.

And, not only do I get the chance to see my favourite band play a wonderful gig, I also get to spend four days in snow bound Zagreb, which is a lovely place. All in all, a pretty good result, I think you'll agree.

What's bad? A Night In Zagreb will make you want to see The Bambi Molesters; you may not be able to!

HangNine Rating:I really don't have the words to describe how great this band is. Buy A Night In Zabgreb and see if you can come up with some words of your own. More informationhere .

Jon Deadman

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Musique Instrumentale And Other Attrocities (CatErratic Records)

Who are they? This seems to be a kind of compilation album from the charmingly homemade CatErratic label (etc etc... see above), featuring 11 tracks from three bands, The Histrioniks, The Thromboes and the aforementioned Instramnetaclees, although the press release states that guitar work is by Larry Levy, bass work by Dave Powers and drum work by Bongo Lahair, which may suggest that all three bands have a certain amount in common. It's determinedly lo-fi (see above!) and pretty good stuff with it.

What's good? Opening track, Instramentaclees' On the Way to Pahrump, is a stormer, while the same band's Liberty (Quentin Tarantino's Theme) is a nice spaghetti western-style number. I also really liked Man in the Way, by The Thromboes, the rather gorgeous The Sun is a Lonely Girl (Instramentaclees again) and The Histrionics' Anger Cherry.

What's bad? Not a lot, to be honest.

HangNine Rating: Really rather njoyable. Go back to the CatErratic website for more info.

Jon Deadman

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Instramentaclees - Swithblade (CatErratic Records)

Who are they? This is apparently the second album from Instramnetaclees on the charmingly homemade CatErratic label (stick-on CD labels, home printed CD covers and all). It's determinedly lo-fi, it's all instrumental and, for the most part, there is no bass player.

What's good?I like the whole do-it-yourself vibe of this album and the eight tunes are short pretty catchy too. Can't resist a good tune.

What's bad?Some will not like the whold do-it-yourself vibe, I fear. I think it would be their loss though.

HangNine Rating: Worth a listen. Go to theCatErratic website for more info.

Jon Deadman

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Dougie Barron - Surf Trax

Who are they? Apparently, "We surf the bold blue Atlantic Ocean... winter and summer. This album clelebrates the waves, the wind, the cold and exhilaration of riding water," and Doug Barron, who also seems to come from Canada is its Associate Producer. Beyond that (and the fact that the opener, Waiting for the Sun to Go Down features Mike Diabo of The Urban Surf Kings) I can't tell you very much, since that is all that the accompanying press release has to say and I can'd find any other information anywhere on-line.

The tracks are instrumental, interspersed with spoken word samples and while the album may indeed "...celebrate the waves..." etcetera, it is not at all what I would describe as surf music. It's far closer to instrumental heavy metal in many ways (although not the ways in which Dick Dale sometimes claims to have invented that genre).

What's good?If you like heavy metal guitar playing, then some of this will probably appeal, although I have to say that I'm not much of a fan myself. The playing is all highly competent, mind you.

What's bad?I hope that the sample form Kick Out The Jams which kicks off Purple Longboard has been cleared, or soemones lawyers are going to come calling!

The album is quite strong on invention and on textures, but it's not overly heavy on tunes.

HangNine Rating: Intriguing would best describe it.

Jon Deadman

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The Reverb Syndicate - Mondo Cacti

The Reverb Syndicate - The Prince Albert, Brighton 05/04/12

Who are they? The Reverb Syndicate hail from Ottowa, Canada and we had the enormous good fortune to hook up with them after they contacted us a few years back to see if we could set up a gig for them in London, when they came over for a short tour-cum-holiday, while guitarist Mike Bradford was living in Scotland. Fortunately we could and what a great band they turned out to be; extremel;y nice people too. Well now they're back on these shores. This time it's fellow strummer James Rossiter who is living in the UK (London, to be precise) and the other guys are over to see him and also to play at the Pipeline Convention on Easter Sunday (where we hear they were rather good too). Along the way they are also promoting their third album, Mondo Cacti, a rather spendid blend of surf instrumentals, spy and spaghetti western themes, with just a little lounge thrown in for good measure. In fact, one tune, Guadalupe's Lab, makes a pretty good fist of including a bit of all these styles in one song!

What's good? As already mentioned, The Reverb Syndicate are lovely folk and their genuine gratitude that anyone would want to help them arrange a gig is symptomatic of this. They should realise that it's always a pleasure to put on a great band and they certainly are one. They have some great tunes too, we especially like Theme To Mondo Cacti, A Plethora of Pinatas, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Gunfighters, Six Shooter Shuffle, the manic Last Train to Death Valley Junction and Tequila Canyon/El Gran Final. I think I want to move to Tequila Canyon, although my doctor would no doubt disagree.

Some of the song titles are fantastic (see above).

The Reverb Sybdicate are a really great live band too and, in addition to their own material, we really enjoyed the cover of The Atlantics' Bombora.

What's bad? It's just a shame that the Prince Albert wasn't a little fuller for the gig, but those hardy souls who made it out on a Thursday evening seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

HangNine Rating: If you already know The Reverb Syndicate you'll know that you should be checking out this new release; if you don't already know them, you really should. Details here.

Jon Deadman

 

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