Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Manatees - S/Tdotdotdotdot
artworkSeattle's Manatees debut release shows a band easing into new territory. I hope this is half a CD in the works, 'cuz this is one fine cassette. It's well recorded, well written, with solid arrangements and exceptional playing.
Picks: Journey To The Stars, Mr. Manatee, Instant Curry, Latin Soul, Immigration, Diamond Head, Latin'ia, Our Man Flint, Tahiti

Track by Track Review


Journey To The Stars dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Deluxe damped chops and a different tone applied to this Ventures standard provides a launch pad for a fresh feel. Well played, very crisp and almost delicate. This avoids the traditional grind, replacing it with an almost wistful feel. The organ is well placed, and the guitars are excellent. Even the organ glissandoes are cool.

Mr. Manatee dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is very similar Brian Lord and the Midnighters' "Not Another One." Warpy string bending weirdness, like Henry Mancini on the wrong bus, or maybe the Reventlos less their metal tendencies. There's a definite dementia to the lead guitar. The melody is mysterious and very effective. Uncomfortable string bending and a catchy melody line over excellent drums make this is an excellent track.

Instant Curry dotdotdotdot
Space Disaster Surf (Instrumental)

"Instant Curry" has a deserted ally feel, a bit of the brine, and a relentless progression punctuated by stinging whammy. The simplicity seems to work in it's favor. After a couple of leisurely verses, the theremin kicks in and the band kicks off. The sound is smoother than Planet Seven, but no less interesting with disparate tones and swirls.

Latin Soul dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Neither the Original Surfaris nor the Sentinals had any idea where the Manatees were going to take this. Demented string bending, major crunch, excellent drums, warbly theremin, and excellent full bodied sound. The arrangement is very powerful. The whammy gives it a swimming pool feel, and the theremin and "Shaft" guitar chops in the break create an interesting sidebar to this powerful infectious track.

Immigration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A border tango behind a fluid and slightly mysterious melody line. This is a very cool, exotic and suave tune. The bumpin' break sets off against the slither of the main track. Makes you move, even when you wanna sit still!

Diamond Head dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Danny Hamilton / Ventures classic gets a new lease on life via crunchy guitar and smooth delivery. The arrangement is pretty strait, in some ways similar to the Summer Breeze version, but with real percussion. The demented whammy is extra weird, yet quite appealing. Very tasty.

Latin'ia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tommy Nunes' classic is delivered with exceptional grace and beauty. Not exactly true to the original, but very reverent and shiny. This is such a gorgeous song, always appealing in its many incarnations. The Latin feel and fluid whammy chords, and the excellent percussion combine to deliver a fine interpretation that demonstrates that you need not go far afield to recreate a tune with stunning results. There are lots of little variations to keep this fresh.

Our Man Flint dotdotdot
Spy (Instrumental)

Cheesy spy flick themes punctuate the surf scene with tongue in cheek. Here, the Manatees reverb out the idea, add cheap organ and a thumping bass. It's cool and fun, but I think a notch below the rest of the tracks here. It seems tame and not as inventive as the rest.

Tahiti dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Faster paced and darn chunky, "Tahiti" releases infectious energy as the chords drive you home. The main body of the melody is sorta go-go over thundering tom toms. No surf reverb, but excellent fun. The picking is precise and crisp.