Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
CHUM - Downtown Beachdotdotdotdot
artwork9 very cool tracks, well written, and very well thought out. It's extra nice to see the To Damascus cover, and the original way the thanks are included is inspired! This album is on guitarist Rick Shaw's label, and is available as an mp3 download.
Picks: Downtown Beach, Double-0-Shamrock, Hyperion Reef, Nite Surfing, Rib Bone, Landslide, The Deep, Vista Cruiser, Thank You

Track by Track Review


Downtown Beach dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Downtown Beach" is a moderately melodic song with curiously dangerous sax squirts from 11 year old Billy Medina and rock licks in the break. The melody tells of risky adventure and emerging darkness.

Double-0-Shamrock dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very cool pulsing heavy number with large dark whammy chords and moody melody lines. Unhappy bass and threatening drums support a rhythmic and dangerous melody. This is definitely not for romance, but surely raises your pulse rate.

Hyperion Reef dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well, there's quite a bit of contrast here, with dark metal surf rhythms and seventies Krautrock lead guitar tone. The attraction here is generated by the contrast between the lead's sound and the heavy pulsing chords of the rhythm guitar. The constant throb of the bass and articulate drums finish off this very large track.

Nite Surfing dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Nite Surfing" is an interesting choice to cover. The only other cover I am aware of is via live tapes of San Jose's Mallards from the mid eighties. The original from To Damascus' was much lighter in texture, yet CHUM have retained the lightness of the intent while bringing quite a bit of weight to it. I must say that I really enjoy this track, perhaps augmented by fond memories of playing the original on my show or seeing the Mallards play it so many times, but that's not enough alone. The rhythm guitar is very cool here, and the reverence of the arrangement adds a sense of updated eighties surf. I wondered how it was that "Nite Surfing" came to CHUM until talking with guys recently. Adrien let on that he was the drummer with To Damascus'. I should have known that! Anyway, this is a fine track.

Rib Bone dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dark whammy danger and chunky chord threats precede a spy-ish melody segmented by thick ominosity (coining words is a writer's delight). "Rib Bone" churns a bit, chugs some, offers up swirling active panning, and conjures a psychedelic surf feeling. It evolves over time without being self indulgent.

Landslide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Brought forward from Rick's former band Surf Report, "Landslide" has become really heavy and dark. It's an intense monster with cool glissandos and very heavy ambiance. Great compressed double pick mystery and metal urgency complete a very powerful picture.

The Deep dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boy oh boy. Lumbering terror and demented string bending lead to looking over your shoulder. Did I mention demented? There's something very unsettling here, while being simultaneously compelling.

Vista Cruiser dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Fast and heavy, churning and intense, "Vista Cruiser" features high strung energy and an endlessly circulating riff of significant danger.

Thank You dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Many thanks are read over a filler rhythm progression that evolves into a semi hard but easy to enjoy flow. There's something compelling about the music that demands a no-overdub release. It's an original concept to bring the band thanks to the audio - it's very personal and sincere. Four stars for the concept and genuineness, and for the music underneath that deserves an airing of its own.