Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Thurston Lava Tube - The Year Of The Dogdotdotdotdot
artworkI think The Year Of The Dog is easily the best arranged and written album The Thurston Lava Tube have produced to date. They are still experimental - on the fringes so to speak - but there are plenty of genuine surf elements and tone, and the drums are very strong. But it's the arranging and production values that really make this shine.

The Thurston Lava Tube are Alan Jenkins - guitar, Blodwyn P. Teabag - organ, Marshall Cavendish - bass , guitar, and Mat Bartram - Drums.
Picks: The Poisoned Pawn Variation, Ghost Train (Camel), Ianisation, The Hitler Goat Fuck, Queen Anne's Revenge, Where Is The Hyena Magnet?, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Mrs. Pterodactyl, Ziggy Stardust, Guess What?, Don't Borrow Dominoes From A Black Man, 1e4 Nc6, Action Dog

Track by Track Review

The Poisoned Pawn Variation dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Very good drums and pumping bass give "The Poisoned Pawn Variation" spunk, and the guitar is very nicely reverbed and whammy chorded. The keys add mystery too. This track grows on you. It's quite original.

Ghost Train (Camel) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and moody to tart, and rising in speed as a train leaving the station, "Ghost Train (Camel)" quickly becomes a cool mystery wrapped in charm. The electric piano is a really nice touch, and the whammy chords and reverb sparkle are very endearing. The rhythm section is perfect for the song as well. Really nice!

Ianisation dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a spy-like song with very nice chords and precision drums. Compositionally, "Ianisation" works really well.

The Hitler Goat Fuck dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Fuzz and hard rock sound, "The Hitler Goat Fuck" maybe hints at garage fuzz like a minor Davie Allan song. The rudeness of the title aside, this rocks in a solid biker way.

Queen Anne's Revenge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There's a bit of art and prog here as The Thurston Lava Tube unveil a shimmering, almost early Rare Bird style instrumental. It's easy on the senses, but not wimpy at all, and there are some double picked lines along with shimmering chords. An excellent arrangement.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

While not the most exciting or original arrangement of "Pipeline" out there, it nonetheless fits in with this album quite well.

Where Is The Hyena Magnet? dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is quite exotic and mysterious. "Where Is The Hyena Magnet?" has a Baltic feel and great drums. Quite nice.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Beatles" song gets lots of reverb crashes and organ lead. I wasn't really impressed at first, but once those reverb crashes set in, well, it became just too much fun to dislike. And that excruciatingly hideous feedback just tops it off perfectly! If only The Beatles had used reverb tanks...

Mrs. Pterodactyl dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Mrs. Pterodactyl" depends on its percussion and island whammy to make the gentle melody and haunted keys really stand out. This is very well arranged and mixed for an engaging excursion in sound.

Ziggy Stardust dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Yeah, well, he melody certainly lends itself to an instrumental treatment. Solid drums and bass, and guitar sparkle smoothed by atmospheric keys. "Ziggy Stardust" is an interesting choice, and is very well done.

Guess What? dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool guitar chords dripping from reverb drive this. The organ lead is very well balanced by the guitars. The rhythm section also makes a great deal of difference, as does the unfolding arrangement's drama. I am reminded of Rare Bird's "Beautiful Scarlet" in a sideways sort of way.

Don't Borrow Dominoes From A Black Man dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A circular bluesy riff rocker with churchy organ lays out some soothing sounds amid some fine drums. The bass and guitar follow each other as the organ plays a graveyard progression.

1e4 Nc6 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal drums and surf guitar angularity manipulate the soundscape until the midsection slows for a visual journey. Electronics and tremolo chords and a foreign language narrative. "1e4 Nc6" is spooky and surfy and compelling.

Action Dog dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Almost romantic puppy love oozes from the speakers via liquid chords and a sympathetic arrangement. "Action Dog" is easy enough, but also rich tonally.

The Poisoned Porn Variation dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Casio percussion, keyboard weird tone, and a kind of disturbed holiday sound add up to an odd album closer that is very different from the rest of these tracks.