Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Halibuts - Chummingdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is the Halibuts first album since the late eighties release Live At Toes. It sports a fresh, more surf-n-lounge sound, and less of their signature ska sound. The change is just fine. This is a highly talented band, with an optimism that is unparalleled. The hallmark unpretentious fun of the Halibuts continues on this CD full of unabashed celebration. No grin is too silly, no wave to serious to change the outlook of this most optimistic of all bands. Solid CD.
Picks: The Natives Are Restless, Blackball, Beluga Stroll, Impact Zone, Bowling Ball Gardens, Swell, It's A Wonderful Halibut, No Minors, Flyswatter, Molokini By Moonlight, A Taste Of Honey, The Wetspot [Wet Spot], Bottom Feeder, Banzai Washout, Java, Grunion Run, Chumming

Track by Track Review

The Natives Are Restless dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Quirky fundango thumpabilly surf. This tune has a mighty fun melody line, but is most dominated by it's infectious percussion. The tribal rhythms drive home the title theme. poundingly joyous.

Blackball dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thundering ringing tone, round toms, pummeling energy, and a riff that laughs of surfabilly roots and surfside frolicking. Not very melodic, but very infectious.

Beluga Stroll dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This grodie slow groove is definitely a stroll, of the midnight variety. It employs a simple riff, lime the sort of thing that Link Wray does so well with, and it has that sort of guitar tone as well. Plodding and ominous.

Impact Zone dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big chords, chunky rhythms, and a riff that rolls right through town. Not much melody, but party worshippers will dance their behinds off. The guitar string swipes are very intense and cool.

Bowling Ball Gardens dotdotdot

This stomp-on-demand tune is completely from the fun side of the house. The sax squirts and the rhythm thumps are perfect, while the lead guitar just sorta provides a bit of the old noodle. Energetic and fun.

Swell dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As the sea rises and falls, so does this tune ebb and flow with the tide. Shimmering and delicately dribbled out, the lead guitar delivers a Mediterranean vision while the rhythm guitar provides a Duane Eddy style progression, until the middle section arrives, where an Endless Summer warm lazy afternoon sound takes over. The long dribbled glissandoes are very nice. A really nice and very pretty track.

It's A Wonderful Halibut dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More like the Halibuts of old, this is a happier than happy tune, melodic as they come, and entirely infectious. The playfulness of the melody brings a grin, while the rhythm section keeps you rolling down the highway. It is the happy side of this song that makes it so special.

No Minors dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A standard surf drum track, a chord progression of some familiarity, and an R&B sax & bass duet, combine to form what starts out as a party backtrack, but develops into a surf jam with some mighty fine double picking. Fun track.

Flyswatter dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal drums, spiffy guitar chops, big time whammy, and a delightful almost prancing riff and delivery, all seem to work in concert to produce an unusual and chunky trip for the racing party goers. The ending flying insect simulation is just plain fun.

Molokini By Moonlight dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Silky smooth, fluidly scenic, and romantically gentle, this tune features full round and ringing guitar tones and gorgeous chord falls. The gentle grass shack backtrack is perfect for the melody line. Very pretty track.

A Taste Of Honey dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Halibuts have been doing this tune for 15 years or so. It is less playful and ska based than it was in the last decade, but still sports an infectious filigree and drama interplay. Like an elevator at the beach, where gentle tones are interspersed with funky percussion.

The Wetspot [Wet Spot] dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Completely reformulated from the days of old, this classic Halibuts track has been morphed into a full throated surf number with more clean surf fun and less ska. The melody line remains a pure joy as it rises, hesitates, and then falls. Still a fave.

Bottom Feeder dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bass driven, this tune has an almost Ben Vaughn-like melody, with an ominous overtone. The sax and keyboard harmonies are nice, as is the Middle Eastern key solos. This is a sure fire pleasure craft. This tune could easily be adapted to a band like Planet Seven, or Los Straitjackets.

Banzai Washout dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Steve Douglas' classic, originally issued from his Catalinas sessions, done with a deeper richer double picked lead, and plenty of thump. The bass & guitar tandem double picking is really cool. This brilliantly dramatic number is no less effective when rearranged like these lads have done it. Nice track.

Java dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This cover of the Alan Tousaint tune made popular by Al Hirt is surprisingly fun in the surf meets the Tijuana Brass variation heard here. The sax honks are priceless, and the childlike innocence of the performance is quite endearing.

Grunion Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another tune from the first five years of the Halibuts, this version is richer and more surf oriented. More intense and powerful, this is quite fun, and the organ melodies continue to sing of Jan & Dean sensibilities.

Chumming dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Halibuts have been together since... well... since God was a boy. They are a large band as surf bands go, six members. Their sound has evolved over the last fourteen years from primal surf-ska to more complicated multipart tunes with a greater and greater sense of humor. I've had the privilege of hosting them at Summer Surf II when Mike Palm (Agent Orange) was filling in on bass. They are a really great band. They thoroughly enjoy playing, and it shows in their recordings. They have a melodic and richly enjoyable sound. "Chumming" is from their last CD on Upstart. They have a new album due shortly.