Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Sea Horse - Mr. Longboard
|Sea horse is a project release, guitar against drum machine, with a few friends sitting in. While this limits its impact and flow, the writing and ideas here are very strong. Musically a very good disc, but aurally lacking the chemistry that a live band creates. Worth checking out for the writing alone.|
Picks: Mr. Longboard, Spitfire, Skimboard Fever, Flim Flam, Zydeco Boogie, Coast Highway, Mohican, Sea Shanty, Trestles, Metal Man, Weekend Honey, Pony Ride, Dolphin Rodeo, Baja Noches, The Spider Man
Track by Track Review
"Mr. Longboard" is a nicely done instrumental with a flowing and surfable melody line, with the classic AABA structure. Twangy, but reverb free. The drum machine is kind of a drag, since this song has all the earmarks of surf. The song opens with the sea lapping the shore while the grunts of the riders are heard.
More on the modern side of rock instro than surf, "Spitfire" is nonetheless a cool instro on the slightly gutty side, like the Ventures might have done if they were Free.
With aquatic tone and a watery melody line, supported by vibrato chords, "Skimboard Fever" is a very cool instro. The keyboard is kinda cheesy, and the drums machine shallow, yet the song is mostly very good. Well written and classically structured.
On the low energy side, "Flim Flam" is also well suited for the journey to the cove. Not as well developed as it might be, yet sporting a solid and slightly edgy melody line and verging on cool.
With zydeco fiddles and a hoe-down structure, "Zydeco Boogie" is fun and surfable as well. The lead guitar is vibratoed, which provides a country-surf contrast to the Cajun sounds.
Horns honk with impatience, then a sparkling guitar erupts with a happy melody line over an optimistic rhythm. Some classic surfisms here, all coming from the upper registers. A cool song.
An Indian beat, a soft melody line, keyboard accompaniment. "Mohican" features a very nice melody over a bed that's too cheesy to bring all the life the song has out of it. I think this would be splendid arranged like the Fireballs, or even in a modern Paul Johnson sound. Well written and quite fun.
The sea laps at the shore while a fog horn with a frog in its throat croaks out a warning. The song is slow and pretty, with vibrato shimmer on the lead guitar, and a suitable soft backtrack below. Almost haunting, "Sea Shanty" is a little sad, and maybe a little schmaltzy too. Very nice track.
A distant train whistle precedes a low key country kinda instro with a charming riff. The lack of chemistry here hurts the track, but the writing comes through anyway.
Heavy fuzz guitar, a short narrative about the metal man, and then the instro launches into a thick melange of metalisms. The melody is a little Jeff Beck-ish.
This is a bouncy song with a flippant riff and beat, perhaps influenced by the Ventures. Some nice vibrato guitar too.
"Pony Ride" features sparkling guitar and surf imagery blended with a bit of an Indian motif. I think this is easily the best track on the disc. The riff is cool, and the mood both sad in the spaghetti western way, and optimistic in the surf way. Very nice!
Country Surf (Instrumental)
Like the introduction says, "if Johnny Cash did an instrumental, this would be it." That classic I Walk The Line rhythm runs under a fine lead guitar with both country and surf sounds. While it's a rough live track, it shows off the melody well, and the potential is very clear too.
Baja Vacation (Instrumental)
"Baja Noches" is just what it sounds like - a vacation down Baja way. Adventurous and pretty, enticing and exotic, and quite happy. A fine song.
Near Surf (Instrumental)
Nearly surf, "The Spider Man" lumbers with vibrato and geeky coolness. Moody in the way Tito and Tarantula do things, but not that emotional.