Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Retro Active Gamma Rays - Activate!dotdotdot
artworkThis is an interesting first release from Retro Active Gamma Rays. Some solid writing, some very garagy stuff, and some engaging tracks. Musically stronger than their playing, but that's not a bad thing in this case. Looking forward to the next round in their development.
Picks: Avast Ye, Hanmock Con, Get Bent, Western Tongooee, Footprint, Kiwanda Cove, Speak Easy, Juror No 7, Flat Drunk Friends, Get Off Your Back Porch, Boiler Bay, The Last Gamma Ray

Track by Track Review


Avast Ye dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Avast Ye" is a fast number with a circling melody riff and boomy bass. More use of chords than surf usually implies, but fun and spirited.

Hanmock Con dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a mid tempo number with a bit of a friendly riff. "Hanmock Con" suggests a relaxed vision of a coastal scene.

Get Bent dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A bit of speed here as RetroActive Gamma Rays play a pretty traditional AABA surf instro with significant spunk. Calling on the past to suggest the future, "Get Bent" sports a couple of glissandos and a splashy grumble.

Western Tongooee dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tom toms provide an island tribalism to this interesting song. The second guitar's soft slither in the intro is very cool. Once into the track, it doubles its pace, sounding more like modern garage surf.

Footprint dotdotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

Delicate banjo launches into a very cool instro with extreme tension and uneasiness. Chop-danger and gloomy moodiness. An instro on the verge of becoming great!

Kiwanda Cove dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

"Kiwanda Cove" is a more interesting track, with lots of drum action and a circular melody line with ample arrangement changes to keep it interesting. It's a little repetitious aurally, but with all the energy, it rises above. Great drums.

Speak Easy dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

Dark whammy chords and a kind of goofy edge give a sense of a dangerous alley with the surf just out of view. A long gritty glissando followed by a whammy chord series cries out to watch for the rocks!

Juror No 7 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Juror No 7" is thrashier than the other tracks here, with dark chords cycling through a narrow pattern in full reverb. Totally dangerous.

Flat Drunk Friends dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a moody number with a distant sound and ominous edge. "Flat Drunk Friends" suggests you're at risk.

Get Off Your Back Porch dotdotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

Busy unusual notes circle like a yellow jacket about to light in your hair, chop chords threaten, dark splash calls to the surf, and the darkness of the tone renders "Get Off Your Back Porch" to the dangerous file. There's plenty of opportunity for creative arranging here. Very cool.

Boiler Bay dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Boiler Bay" employs a simple but effective riff, and is a bit dissonant. Chop chords give it danger.

The Last Gamma Ray dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Manic and dangerous, with a bit of psycho uneasiness. "The Last Gamma Ray" is dissonant and dark and splashy, with a lurid sense about it. Thrashy chords add a youthful innocence.