Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Susan and the SurfTones - Night In Old Towndotdotdotdot
artworkThis is the new album from Portland, Oregon's Susan and the SurfTones. Ten nicely arranged instrumentals, a few of which are reinvented non-surf, originally non-instro cover. Susan Yasinski continues to impress me with her writing and ever improving sense of production.
Picks: Vincent 87, Deathmobile, Over You, Shanghai Hotel, Chinese Rock, End Of Days, For Your Love, Night In Old Town, Mexican Spaceman, If Not For You

Track by Track Review


Vincent 87 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The guitar lines and tone are significantly different for the band. The melody is well developed and gentle. "Vincent 87" is a very fluid and summery instro with a compelling and warm sound. Avory's organ adds a kind of Summer of Love feel to the track. Marky Kelly co-wrote the song with Susan Yasinski, and plays on it as well. I found my self listening to this repeatedly. It's a pleasant song that hooks right into a sunny mood. A very nice track!

Deathmobile dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The rhythm guitar is fuzzed out, adding an edge and chunk to "Deathmobile." The song is a little garage, a little biker, a little surf. It's a bit thick and slightly dangerous. Bassist Dan Fergusen wrote this and played the rhythm guitar.

Over You dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rhythmic chunk guitar chords back Avory's organ as she plays the melody line. The rhythmic chords are infectious, and the song works surprisingly well in instrumental form. "Over You" is a Brian Ferry / Phil Manzanera composition from their days with Roxy Music.

Shanghai Hotel dotdotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

"Shanghai Hotel" is a bluesy number that roles along like it's late on a Saturday night in a soul food bar where surfers do the hang. Electric and modern, yet very much like Chicago Blues at the beach.

Chinese Rock dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Chinese Rock" has a thick, kind of murky back of the club sound that befits the song's origin. Johnny Thunders on a surfboard? No, but a powerful and interesting morphing nonetheless.

End Of Days dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Susan's melody is haunting and calmly aggressive here. The song's ambiance is a little spooky, but mostly it's warming and moody. Excellent arranging.

For Your Love dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Graham Gould's biggest hit (from the Yardbirds) gets an instro treatment that's more direct and less psychedelic. More evenhanded, yet with a sense of the period from which it came. A nice cover choice.

Night In Old Town dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The title track opens from a bluesy bass line and playful guitar riff. "Night In Old Town" is a light weight fanciful song that reminds me of John D. Loudermilk's instrumental work. Catchy and fun.

Mexican Spaceman dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Mexican Spaceman" is a very unusual song. I'm not sure where the title comes from, but the song is decidedly interesting in an unsettling sort of way. Dan Fergusen's strange little melody is twanged and stung above an odd beat.

If Not For You dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very interesting choice of covers. Bob Dylan's song never sounded so cool. Warm, soft with edge, and a little sad. What Susan and the SurfTones have done with it is take the folk-pop out and replace it with a sunny afternoon on the coast. Very nice.