Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Slackmates - Hot Car Girlsdotdotdot
artworkThe Slackmates are among the harbingers of the new super clean ultra melodic sub genre of surf. Take a helping of Mose Allison's and a dose of Professor Longhair's piano, Herbie Mann's flute, Jack Cassidy's bass, and Cozy Cole's drums, get Henry Mancini and Lee Hazelwood to write some cool tunes, dress the band in pastel sports coats, beige cardigans, and Hush Puppies, add the energy of the Insect Surfers, and you get a general idea what this is like. It took only fifteen seconds before you are overcome by a come-hither quality that simply draws you in. It puts your guard down for you. By the time the amazing last track rolled past the tape whirling head, you are a goner. This band has picked up where Eric Lenchner left off with the Ultras, but slower and more serious. If Man or Astro-MAN? were tight and polished and better writers... It's mostly dry guitar tones. There are some surprisingly accurate as-if-they-were-there-then-with-a-DAT numbers that hold their own with singles from bands like the What Four when space surf was in. The over all performance smacks of soundtrack destiny in the same incredibly cool way the Aqua Velvets do. There are spots were I found myself thinking about the Illusion's (Jim McCarty & Jane Relf) "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue." Topped off by a very pro mix, it's a must have when it hits the street as a CD.
Picks: Saturation, Sutra Vortex Factor, Rocket Racer, Surfin' At Sunset, Huevos Rancheros, Hot Car Girls, Devil Girl From Mars, Futura, Gender Bender, West Side Story

Track by Track Review


Saturation dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Right down to the woo-woos way low in the mix... really period label space surf with a modern cleanness. Like the sort of thing Laika & the Cosmonauts might choose to cover if it were 30 years old. The spoken guitar lessen intro is almost funny, if you don't own any of the Play Guitar With The Ventures albums.

Sutra Vortex Factor dotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Vibrato Chunky sci-fi (Instrumental)

Way chunky spy movie magic with great surf/vibrato guitar. A bit too riffie. Spacie sci-fi warbles.

Rocket Racer dotdotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Chunky (Instrumental)

Cartoon spacie sounds into a cool traveling tune with a strong melody line over a chunky rhythm. Slight overdrive on the lead guitar.

Surfin' At Sunset dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Hawaii Five-0" drum intro into an organ melody over a chunky bed. Not much direction. Spy movie 80's sound. With a hot double pick lead it would be REALLY cool.

Huevos Rancheros dotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Aggressive (Instrumental)

Spaghetti Western in a Treble Spankers meets the Ventures & Laika at a cantina. So, is it named after the meal or the band?

Hot Car Girls dotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Trailer (Instrumental)

The trailer intro is too long. The sound of this track reminds me a lot of the Illusions (70-80) or the Overtones, or maybe even the Surfin' Tapeworms From Venus. I'm not sure. Pretty repetitious, but not as bad as the Surfaholics or the recent Boss Martians.

Devil Girl From Mars dotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

Great spy surf from the best band on this comp. Whistling organ accents a cool song. Melodic and infectious.

Futura dotdotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Piano Middle East Exotic Vibrato (Instrumental)

Piano gently builds a mysterious Middle Eastern exotic thing, then moves into a backwards wash with a majorly vibrato guitar, then slides into keys and flute, all very hip. While nothing like it, still I was reminded of the 101 Strings "Astro Sounds" album. The sound is pristinely clean, and if your like unusual psych, this will capture your imagination. It also has enough elements of surf in it to spark another is-it-or-isn't-it war on Cowabunga. In that spirit, I say it is!

Gender Bender dotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf PNW Shouts (Instrumental)

Laughter & hand claps & Tall Cool One chords lead you into a PNW style instro, with shades of the Routers' "Let's Go." Ample hoots & hollers all around.

West Side Story dotdotdotdotdot
British Spy Movie Spaghetti Space Jazz Surf Show Tune (Instrumental)

If ever you wondered what a Surf Opera would be like, wonder no more. Many of the songs from West Side Story are completely rearranged, personalized with the stamp of the Slackmates. The piece opens by fading into "Maria," which is not quite as cool as the Dragsters' version, but still bitchin'. From here, it eventually lapses into cool street gang cats dancing & finger poppin' before passing through "America" on it's way into "Tonight's The Night.".. Wonderful and daringly sophisticated for a surf band.