Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Kings - Up From The Depthsdotdotdotdot
artworkWell, well, well! It's about time. The Surf Kings official release is finally upon us. There's no surprise that this is one monster disc! Inspired to pick up the surf guitar after decades between his stint in the Crossfires and hearing the Mermen, Tom has been quietly creating a whole new sound. It's not a sound-alike, but if you like the Mermen, you'll love this. It's also very cool for updated trad fans. Put succinctly, this is a great CD of instrumental surf and psych. Very well written, well produced, and incredibly worth the wait. Meet the Surf Kings, they're here to stay.
Picks: Out Of Control, South Swell, J-Bay, Tears Of The Dolphin, Gypsy Soul, Pull Top, Road To Mundaka, Cloudbreak, Bury The Rat, Fiberglass Jungle, Undertow, Island Dreams, Foam

Track by Track Review


Out Of Control dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From the depths comes this thundering delivery of the song that defined the Crossfires who originally cut this. Powerful driven and pure surf power.

South Swell dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There's a jazzy Mexican feel to this unusual and infectious number, and a sense of guarded optimism. The long slow whammies are so cool, and the playful riff and tropical percussion is a perfect counter part. It bounces between fluid rolling waves and bubbling shore break. Excellent.

J-Bay dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This whammy bar monster is even bigger in the studio than live. It's moderately paced, infectious, and features Tom Stanton's signature writing style and guitar sound. Mean, powerful, and really smooth. Stellar!

Tears Of The Dolphin dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Whammy accented, minor key gloom and sadness, and melodic beauty cohabit this very Mermenesque track. Fine writing, and splendid arranging. Fluid structures and very moody sounds make this a definite hair raiser.

Gypsy Soul dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Imposing mystery, profound emotional restraint, and a sense of large swells and exotic places. The dual leads give it a Southern feel, but the focus is the wandering soul of a gypsy surfer.

Pull Top dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Among the more melodic and fluid of the Crossfires' tunes, "Pull Top" is given a new face with polish and kinetic energy. Some tasty sax work in places adds to the modern classic updating of this pure trad piece.

Road To Mundaka dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Road To Mundaka" is a great track, thundering driving music, top down on Highway 1 looking for a new dawn. Harmonics, pristine guitar, occasional speed picking, and a playful melody line with a sad sound. This is a splendid track, more like the awesome power of the sea than just about anything else here, and even better than the live recordings I've heard before. Really good!

Cloudbreak dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Moody and rolling with a thunder felt through dangling feet in the passing swells while the sucker hole over head temporarily opens. Rhythmic, and with an excellent melody. I expected this to be a killer once it's laid down properly in a studio, and I'm not disappointed.

Bury The Rat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hendrixian, moody, dark, and slow. This walks the fine line between dark psych and surf imagery. This track is clearly inspired by the Mermen, it seems to me. Dramatic, artful, brilliantly composed, and moody. Now, "Bury The Rat" is a brooding number with deliberate and arty pace. It's named after the time the family pet rat died and was buried in the back yard.

Fiberglass Jungle dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This primal Crossfires tune blows the doors off of most first generation surf tunes for it's shear danger. It's so fine to finally get a great studio cut of this. It captures one of the best leading edge bands delivering a powerhouse rendition of a song with enough gloom for the meanest surfer among you. This is a splendidly necessary track. Surf coming of age, meeting the next millennium head on.

Undertow dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Undertow" waits for an intellectual wave on a longboard rising and falling as shallow swells roll by. It speaks of the wait for the ninth wave, and the solitude of the union with the sea. The sense of currents under foot is unmistakable. Excellent and dark, yet excited at the prospect of that one great ride.

Island Dreams dotdotdotdot
Floating Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Liquid notes float over a clear water bay while westerlies sway the tropical fronds on shore. The sun beats down while swells roll by, lulling the relaxed rider into false security. The brooding pace and huge psychedelia of the imagery are perfect.

Foam dotdotdotdot
Solo Surf (Instrumental)

At the edges of the break the froth appears from the lapping curl. This delicate guitar solo beautifully plays with images of warm afternoons at the junction between the sky and the water and the earth, where the three interact in gentle ever-changing motion. Beautiful and playful. Out past the end is a funny little bit about why it's not surf music like the Beach Boys are...