Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Kings - Coming Up For Airdotdotdotdot
artworkTom Stanton's band the Surf Kings may take their time between CD's, but they sure create some incredible music. Coming Up For Air is simply stunning. Powerful, dramatic, playful, and at times utterly emotional, and always very good listening.
Picks: Hammerhead, Coming Up For Air (Remember To Breathe), Glass Bowls, Casbah, Catalyst, Lobotomy, Amp Head, Oral Exciter, Gods Of Atlantis, Spirit Of Man, Jaba Point, Amanda, Bolero For A King, Black Sea

Track by Track Review


Hammerhead dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Heavy and surf-slammin', "Hammerhead" is a moody and powerful song with a great deal of energy and percussive attack. Dramatic and spitfire intense, with solid power and drive. Totally cool!

Coming Up For Air (Remember To Breathe) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Long stereo chords ring in "Coming Up For Air (Remember To Breathe)." The melody riff is playful and moody. The song is picturesque and full bodied. Excellent drums and bass support Tom Stanton's fine guitar work. Very good track!

Glass Bowls dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great drums and rumbly bass bring on a spatial and haunting song with a misty quality to it. "Glass Bowls" is very pretty and dramatic too. Like rolling thunder, it calls to coastal cliffs in the rain with stormy seas settling in below. Tom toms and grumbly bass precede a splendid and moody Tom Stanton melody, displaying grace and liquid flow. The stereo reverb on the guitar adds an atmospheric depth to "Glass Bowls" that brings it a haunting and misty power. Excellent!

Casbah dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Recorded for the Richie Podolor tribute, "Casbah" is well defined and precisely played, with the big sound of the Surf Kings in full throat. While the drums clearly nod to Sandy Nelson, they also have their own character. Aggressive and fluid.

Catalyst dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

On the slow and surf-rhythm side, "Catalyst" sports long double picked lines in a soup of spatial reverb that gives the song a very ghostly sound. The melody line is big and delicate too. Excellent!

Lobotomy dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With the manic speed and thunder of "Out Of Control," this song is both traditional and modern. Double pick wailing and big guitar slaughter. Great glissandoes, solid bass, and tuff drums merge to create a dangerous surf monster.

Amp Head dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An electric swirl evolves into nervous guitar mania reminiscent of Armageddon's "Buzzard," though the surf energy dominates "Amp Head" completely. Great drums, bass grumble, and intense and magical circulating guitar.

Oral Exciter dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Determined drums and smooth bass run under a guitar pummeling that's relentless and intense. The dark and moody guitar plays a minimal line that uses repetition to make you nervous.

Gods Of Atlantis dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Acoustic guitar opens this dramatic and very artful song. With a distant lands feel and lure of the curl in exotic places, "Gods Of Atlantis" commands your attention with delicate and well thought out arranging. About a third of the way in, the acoustic guitar gives way to electric, and even some slide guitar lines. Mighty big!

Spirit Of Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a slow and very moody piece with a marvelous drama in the drums and sense of deliberation in the bass, which moves under Tom Stanton's fluid guitar melody. His haunting sound depicts the "Spirit Of Man" on a longboard, gracefully cutting across a glassy left on a warm summer day. Quite nice!

Jaba Point dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Didgeridoo, pulsing bass, and a very moody lumbering beat provide a great backdrop for a sinewy island guitar melody. "Jaba Point" is a stunningly cool track with a lush exotic sound and absolutely inviting tropical feel. Totally cool!

Amanda dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Amanda" uses acoustic guitar like it's a mountain girl lullaby or folk song in search of the sea. Tom Stanton's solo on the acoustic hints at what might have happened if Leo Kottke had felt the lure of the curl. Slide and finger style beauty!

Bolero For A King dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a beautiful song, with an island warmth and exotic smoothness. The melody is very pretty and the production brings out the sunset breeziness of the song. Magnificent!

Black Sea dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Black Sea" is a brooding psycho menace with a bleak outlook, and a sense of profound sadness, like maybe it was written after the death of Tom Stanton's friend Don Murray. It has a sense of loss - of grief - an honorarium feel to it. It's depressing in the moment, but optimistic it the light, like night passing into day. Big and moody, and very emotional. The middle of the song includes an excerpt from a radio interview with Don Murray about the Crossfires. The song ends with the sea gently rolling below Tom's poetic eulogy for Don.