Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Clams - Surfin' The Tubedotdotdot
artworkThe Clams play underachiever surf, a new sub-genre born of low brow (not lo-fi), and delivered on a platter of hidden grins and dried kelp. With a nearly Downs Syndrome approach to surf that might borrow from Jon Wayne (the band) and Deadbolt with hints of very early Southern Culture on the Skids and even Johnny Moped, this band is all alone in their chosen sound. Understated humor and a wholly unique sub-twang.
Picks: Crustacean, Hawaii Five-0, The Silver Lancer, Batclam, Bomp Bomp Surf, Secret Agent Clam, Underdog, Western Omelet, Quanog Wild, Munsters, Bondage, Micro Jammers, Spiderclam, We Are The Clams

Track by Track Review


Crustacean dotdotdot
Frat Rock (Instrumental)

With a kind of stilted rock instro riff, perhaps like some of the Pacific Northwest instros of the sixties, this song plays with a bygone style filtered through reverb. "Crustacean" is an unusual track with a slightly lumbering, maybe even humorous melody riff, though it's delivered in a way.

Hawaii Five-0 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a slowish and somewhat low brow approach, the Clams play "Hawaii Five-0" in a lower register, which gives it a brooding protruding brow ridge feel. I can't decide if I'm attracted to it for its Neanderthal ethic or its sludgy feel. Either way, it's not a common way to arrange this venerable TV theme.

The Silver Lancer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like a hot rod in waiting, "The Silver Lancer" cruises the main, leaving a trail of blue smoke to mark its passing. It's not fluid, with its chorded choppy bridges, yet it has elements of classic surf.

Batclam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Neil Hefty's ultra simple TV theme is morphed from man to bivalve with a professionally unemployed sludginess that separates it from the pack. If Bat Man were an idiot savant superhero, he would fully identify with this.

Bomp Bomp Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

You might imagine this from its title. Chop-chop (bomp bomp) riff rock with a grin hidden behind a struggling youngster learning to walk. It's a humorous track with a Surf For Dummies feel. "Bomp Bomp Surf" grows on you.

Secret Agent Clam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With all of the upbeat shout it out spyisms of Phil Sloane's theme to the US release of Danger Man, the Clams drag "Secret Agent Man" down to the rocks at the bottom where shells rule. The murky attitude transmutes the song into an underachiever anthem.

Underdog dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Perhaps the most "normal" surf instro of the set, "Underdog" is like a slow-boy surf theme. Arrested development and splash, reverb and long shallow swells that never break. Very cool!

Western Omelet dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Who'da thunk a few broken eggs and cactus would emerge from the skillet into the brine? With a very spaghetti western sound, and borrowed verses from "Big Valley" (?), "Bonanza," and "Magnificent Seven," this western collage is both attractive and delightfully dumb.

Quanog Wild dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The low brow ridges are in command in this fine little surf number. Simple enough to fit their territory well, yet surfable and reverby, with glissandoes and inverted grins.

Munsters dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

If Herman Munster had bought an AMC Pacer instead of that silly George Barris buggy, his family theme might have ended up sludgy slowwitted like this. Vic Mizzy's theme dumbed down unlike any other version. Dark with humor, and intriguing.

Bondage dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A few "James Bond" riffs run through this hand cuffed spy song. Dark and murky, with a thickskulled appreciation for the silliness of all those films.

Micro Jammers dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Darkening my doorstep like a vacuum cleaner salesman, the Clams live up to the song's title. "Micro Jammers" brings up images of the uncool swaying very slowly within the confines of their chairs, micro jamming as it were. 'Tis an odd number that connects to the know-nothing within.

Spiderclam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The super simple riff from the cartoon hero's celluloid adventure is somehow about as complex as the Clams can handle. They make it seem just right, where others would struggle.

We Are The Clams dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A signature song must define a band if it is to stick. "We Are The Clams" does that, with its simplicity and unintelligent feel. Simpleton surf with a grin and a few glissandoes.