Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: North East Surf Music Alive!dotdotdot
artworkSeventeen live performance from NESMA bands presented as a promotional tool. It's a glimpse into a vital scene with some fine bands, and might lead you to some great surf CD's or shows. However, cruddy editing and mastering interrupt the flow. Most of these tracks are in cruddy, boomy ambient sound, which is too bad, because many deserve a good airing. Presentation is everything, and I much prefer to hear the performance instead of the room. There's one vocal here that has nothing to do with the surf sound. The Come Arounds' "I Just Wanna Rock and Roll" is fun, but hopelessly murky and hard to listen to.
Picks: I'm Branded, Collision Course, Madagascan Intrigue, Crustacean, Trash Twang and Thunder, Wingnut, London After Midnight, Osama Don't Surf, Boneyard, The Poodle, Black Widow Spy-der, Atlantic Surfer, Rancho Cucamonga, Surfin' At Sunset, Esperanza, Lorelei

Track by Track Review


I'm Branded dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Urban Surf Kings always drive the surf with a dark and powerful edge. Link Wray's classic "I'm Branded" is direct and grumbly as it should be. The ambient sounding recording is even somehow complimentary.

Collision Course dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Good Guys' classy "Collision Course" is very nicely done, with a rich vibrato charm and solid beat. It's not often covered, and makes a nice choice to show off a solid band.

Madagascan Intrigue dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Madagascan Intrigue" is a lovely song featuring circulating guitar playing against a John Barry-ish accent. This splendid track has an intriguing and pulsing guitar line, and a big spy feeling.

Crustacean dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Reminiscent of the rock instros of the Pacific Northwest, "Crustacean" sports an unusual and slightly lumbering structure. It's pretty basic, using the kind of progression that frat rock instros employ, but with reverb.

Trash Twang and Thunder dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Trash Twang and Thunder" uses a circular riff and a relentless thumping beat. Not melodic, but on the angry side. There's danger lurking in the alley this was born in.

Wingnut dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

You know you're in trouble when someone in the band asks "how's that go" before they launch into it. The high flying notes are very cool. Trashy sound dampens this song's potential. A circulating spy guitar riff captured in dreadful sound.

London After Midnight dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boomy and murky sound murk up this slightly angry song. "London After Midnight" is not exactly melodic, but the riff stands up well, and the energy adds to that. Power glissandos and gloomy surf.

Osama Don't Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Osama Don't Surf" is a tasteful and simple instro with shimmer and a pleasant progression. It doesn't rise to the melodic test, but it is engaging and warm. This is one of the better sounding tracks here.

Boneyard dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a heavy thunder down below, "Boneyard" commands attention merely from its threatening demeanor. It's all about big chunk. Not quite melodic, but very strong and dominating. The whammy chords and relentless grumble demand your attention. Dramatic and dangerous.

The Poodle dotdotdot
Accordion Surf (Instrumental)

If it weren't for the extreme creativity of the Serfs, the whole idea of accordion surf would be unfathomable. A fine melody and rock beat that could have been a surf song if only... but alas, it's merely a rockin' good time on the portable keys.

Black Widow Spy-der dotdotdot
Acoustic Guitar (Instrumental)

John Barry was born of beat-gen influence, and spy jazz was the rule, so there's a natural foundation for this. The sax and flute are very creative, and the song is inspired at least. Imagine Herbie Mann at the Village Gate wearing baggies.

Atlantic Surfer dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Heavy dark surf underpinnings and colonial constructs with reverb and flair. Lots of energy and great drums. Harsh stereo limit presentation, but the energy is rock solid.

Rancho Cucamonga dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Rancho Cucamonga" is a riff driven instro that's more basic than I normally like, but it also has some nice moments, a good bridge, and enough splash to keep it interesting. The snare drums sounds like a muted cast iron frying pan!

Surfin' At Sunset dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This basement recording is mono and murky, but shows a band with a flair for the soft side of the instrumental rock. Not very surfy, but very warm and well written. Maybe slightly akin to the island vacation sensibilities of "Endless Summer."

Esperanza dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fine song with an easy surf feel and relentless flow. Dick Dale's delightful "Esperanza" is nicely aped here, though it's a little less dynamic than the master's live performances.

Lorelei dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I don't know what it is about Jonnie Dog and the Dingos, but their music has a distant allure about it that's compelling. This simple and beautiful song is very nicely written. Better sound is a must for this, 'cuz the murk does not allow the subtleties to come out. Still, I like this a lot.