New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: surf music

The Underwater Bosses Make a Big Splash With Their Latest Record

The mostly-monthly series of surf rock shows at Otto’s have been going on practically since the venue opened in the old Barmacy space at 14th St. just west of Ave. B more than two decades ago. Auspiciously, the dumpy little quasi-tiki bar was one of the first places to reopen without restrictions after the 2020 lockdown, which is surprising considering their draconian door policy (you’ll be carded even if you’re eighty and on a walker, so bring your passport which the ID scanner can’t read and then share with the CCP).

Next month’s show, on April 1 is a good one and starts at 8 with the Underwater Bosses, followed at around 9:30 by Tsunami of Sound and then Blue Wave Theory, The segues are good: each band is a little heavier than your typical surf act, and they all play mostly originals. The Underwater Bosses are the loudest but most eclectic of the bunch. Tsunami of Sound are the most trad. Blue Wave Theory frequently work a more enveloping Ventures spacerock side and have a ton of free downloads available.

The Underwater Bosses’ latest album The Night Divides the Ride is streaming at Bandcamp. They open with the title track, which comes across as a mashup of the Raybeats and Link Wray (no relation, actually…). Track two, Juan of the Waves is a thundering blend of Dick Dale tremolo pick-melting and a big, brassy spaghetti western theme complete with forlorn trumpet.

Guitarist Chris Stewart breaks out his roller-rink organ for The Volcano Boys, a bossa-tinged tune that wouldn’t be out of place in the Laike & the Cosmonauts catalog. Greg Bresett’s gritty bass intro to Dirk Dagger is a red herring: it’s a blazing, reverb-soaked spy tune in 5/4 time.,

If Link Wray, Dick Dale and Buck Owens had a relative in common, it would be Beach Moles. There’s all kinds of cool bass-and-guitar interplay in Rumble in Belmont and darkly straightforward blues riffage in The Black Demon of Cortez.

The web of textures, from icepick reverb to raw roar in Ride Baby is especially tasty. The amps go up even further in Sea Wolf, the album’s most bludgeoning, riff-driven number, which makes a good segue with the blasts of chords in Aqualizer.

The rhythmically trickiest, most cinematic number here is Salmon’s Lot, drummer Bob Breen leading the band up out of a spiderwalk to a big organ-fueled interlude, They bring the record full circle with The Return of the Hand, the closest thing to the Raybeats and punk rock here. This Rochester, New York-based trio deserves to be way better known.


One of New York’s Great Surf and Twang Guitarists Visits a Familiar Williamsburg Watering Hole This Week

Jason Loughlin is one of the elite guitarists in Americana because he has his own sound rather than just a deep bag of recycled country and blues licks. Much as there probably aren’t many classic country and surf rock licks he doesn’t know, he always finds a way to make them sound fresh. Big names – Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris among them – are aware of this and have enlisted his services for a long time. But Loughlin is also a bandleader, and has had a regular more-or-less monthly residency at Skinny Dennis pretty much since they opened, with a long break during the collective insanity in 2020 and 2021. He’s back there with his band on March 16 at 9.

Loughlin’s recorded output as a leader is not extensive, but what he has is absolutely brilliant. His most recent album, Peach Crate came out quite awhile ago – his Bandcamp page lists two different dates. If expertly twangy guitar instrumentals that transcend the surf genre are your thing, you have to hear this (and you may have already – getting to this one a little late!) It’s also been quite awhile since this blog was in the house at Loughlin show. If memory serves right, the last time was at the old Hank’s in 2015, where he was playing his usual tasteful, purposeful leads alongside folk noir songstress Jessie Kilguss.

He opens the record with the warm, briskly shuffling title track, a western swing highway theme with some snazzy, rapidfire guitar riffage over sailing layers of lapsteel, bassist Jason Hogue and Stephen Chopek subtly pushing the beat.

Loughlin builds an intricate web of lickety-split, tongue-in-cheek Buck Owens Bakersfield phrasing in the second track, Whoopsie Daisy. Tango and Cash is a real treat, part loping Ventures summer surf theme, part chiming countrypolitan, part Tex-Mex. Woody’s in the Hood is another gem of a mashup, a Django shuffle as noir icons Big Lazy would have done it.

Likewise, Steep Grade is a creepy, picturesque spiderwalking number, but with plenty of jokes too good to give away. The trio pick up the pace with She’s Something Sweet, a percolating blend of Bakersfield twang and elegant 60s soul. Hello Tijuana, Goodbye Kidney is not the horror tableau you might expect, but instead, a plush, lingering 6/8 ballad without words. Who knew that being on the wrong side of an organ trafficking scheme could be so enjoyable!

Loughlin builds a tight web of jump blues-flavored twin harmonies in Recordian and follows with the chugging, erudite Slack Jaw, part Buck Owens, part late-period Bob Wills, with Rich Hinman on pedal steel. Loughlin winds up the album with Headless Body Topless Bar, a slow, lurid roadhouse theme with echoes as diverse as the Raybeats and the Friends of Dean Martinez.

The Dracu-Las Sink Their Fangs Into a Catchy, Reverb-Drenched New Album

One of the most refreshingly original albums to fly across the radar here in the last couple of months is the Dracu-Las‘ debut cassette, Fever Dream, streaming at Bandcamp. It’s part surf, part janglerock, part powerpop, with a wistful early 60s Orbison-pop undercurrent.

They open with a tantalizingly brief surf instrumental, Highway, a skittish mashup of Link Wray and Messer Chups (minus the scream samples). Track two, Tell You the News is a punchy sort-of go-go tune lit up by lead guitarist Babak Khodabandeh’s soul riffage

Girls is part spare Ventures space-surf, part Black Angels at their most slinky and Velvetsy. “Giving up on girls like me,” one of the band’s two frontwomen muses. Hard to tell if that’s guitarist Kyna Damewood or bassist Courtney Eddington.

The album’s title track has a bouncy bassline and a soaring, chiming chorus: imagine an early 20s version of Liza & the WonderWheels. Then drummer Mitch Cady hits a classic powerpop drive and the guitarists stomp their distortion boxes for Fire , the hardest-rocking track here.

They close the record with Burning Heart, rising out of a syncopated ballad to scruffy psychedelia and back. Now where is this excellent group playing next, you might ask? They’re on a dubious battle-of-the-bands lineup in a couple of days at a Brooklyn club which enjoyed a massive resurgence in the spring of 2022 but wasn’t able to keep that momentum going (therefore dumb desperation moves like a battle-of-the-bands contest?). There will hopefully be other shows where you can see a full set of the Dracu-Las without having to suffer through three nothingburger bands and pony up a $15 cover charge as well.

La Banda Chuska Put a Darkly Psychedelic New Spin on a Classic Cumbia Sound

La Banda Chuska played their first-ever gig on a Monday night in October, 2019 at a Brooklyn venue known for eclectic and unpredictable programming, One of the band members explained that their big influence was Los Belkings, one of the most surf-inspired of the great Peruvian psychedelic cumbia bands from the mid-to-late 1960s. These Brooklynites slunk and wafted their way through a handful of that band’s more ornate, psychedelic instrumentals, but they also played a bunch of originals that ranged from short and punchy to lush and cinematic. Calmly and intricately, these guys (and women) really slayed with a sound that’s hardly ever heard this far north: when were they going to play next?

We know what happened next. The good news is that the band survived the lockdown to release a debut ep at Bandcamp last spring. They’re playing second on one of those sprawling multi-band bills that Drom puts on every January as part of the annual booking agents’ convention. Whether that convention served any useful purpose before the lockdown is a useful question, but it always resulted in some great shows. This Jan 14, the group are hitting the stage there at around 8:30 PM, preceded by Greek surf band Habbina Habbina, who open the night at 7:30. Perennial party favorites Slavic Soul Party play their funky Balkan/hip-hop/Ellington mashups afterward at 9:30, then at around 10:30 Red Baraat’s fiery bhangra soul trumpeter Sonny Singh leads his band. After that, Mafer Bandola plays bouncy Venezuelan joropo llanero, around half past midnight Iranian violinist and bandleader Mehrnam Rastegari leads her group, with electroacoustic drummer Ravish Momin’s Sunken Cages doing their woomp-woomp dancefloor thing to close out the night. If you have the stamina for it, this could easily be the best concert lineup of 2023: general admission is $20.

The first song on the debut ep is Cumbia Chuska. Adele Fournet plays a pulsing, vaguely sinister progression on her organ, then a guitar – that’s either Sam Day Harmet or Felipe Wurst – comes in with an ominous spaghetti western riff over the undulating groove from bassist Abe Pollack and drummer Joel Mateo. Accordionist Erica Mancini floats in, then one of the guitarists hits his fuzz pedal. This is creepy fun!

Track two is Surf en CDMX, a catchy mashup of Ventures spacerock and uneasy Peruvian chicha with a deliciously clangy guitar interweave. The women in the band join voices in Arcoiris, which is not a bright rainbowy theme but a ghostly, airy, keyboard-driven undersea tableau that rises to a big guitar-driven peak and then a wry Fender Rhodes solo out.

From there they segue into Cine Olaya, where they do something predictable yet irresistibly fun with a slow, broodingly vampy chicha vamp. The final cut on the record is Playa Privada, a surreal mashup of the B-52s, Los Crema Paraiso and maybe the Police. We need more from this imaginative, original crew.

Ferocious, Individualistic Surf Band 9th Wave Washes Into Alphabet City This Weekend

Although surf guitar icon Dick Dale went to the great tiki bar in the sky in 2014, his legacy of rolling thunder instrumentals lives on in Mike Rosado, frontman of 9th Wave. The Connecticut surf band have been around about half as long as Dale and have been through some lineup changes over the years, but the good news is that they survived the lockdown intact and are back playing shows again. They’re at Otto’s on Jan 7 at 9:30 PM, in between two of the most popular New York surf acts to crash onshore in the past couple of decades: the jangly Supertones, who open the night at 8, and the cinematic TarantinosNYC,, who by both talent and default have become this city’s top surf act.

When 9th Wave started out in the 90s, they had a reggae bass player and a more slinky groove. By the time they put out their 2003 album Time Tunnel, they had developed one of the most distinctive sounds in surf rock, Rosado machete-picking the low strings with his reverb turned up all the way while the rhythm section pummeled behind him and Sandy, the band’s organist and multi-instrumentalist, added roller-rink textures for a new take on a hotrod surf sound.

They haven’t put out an album since 2016 and because they go back to the cd era, not a lot of their studio material has made it to the web beyond their music page. There you’ll find Beyond Neptune – a catchy, clangy detour toward wistful 60s Britpop – and the scrambling hotrod theme Dragon Wagon 2016, along with a handful of earlier tracks. They also have a Sonichits page with a lot of live videos from the Time Tunnel era (you have to click on the play button next to each track, then click play  on the video when it comes up).

A future daily New York music blog owner took the time to catch the band several times when they were playing New York a lot. At the C-Note on February 9, 2001, they cranked out a surprisingly brief 35-minute set on a fantastic quadruplebill, sandwiched between two all-female bands, the snarky, guitar-fueled B Loud Three and the scorching twin guitar-fueled Sit N Spin, with brooding Pacific Northwest gothic band the Scholars headlining. At that show, Rosado was joined by an excellent second guitarist who shared a fixation with punchy lower-register riffage.

On February 24, they became one of the loudest bands ever to play CB’s Gallery, the mostly acoustic annex adjacent to CBGB. Their set opening for rockabilly band the Blind Pharaohs was a lot longer, and featured Sandy doing snakecharmer fills on her flute when not behind the keys and floating over Rosado’s relentless, percussive attack.

Their return to the C-Note was two days short of a year later and the absence of a second guitarist didn’t keep Rosado from churning up the sand. This time they were in the middle of a phenomenal lineup that included rising lit-rock star Ward White, a horn-fueled performance from ska band Tri-State Conspiracy at the peak of their career, future “cemetery & western” cult hero Mark Sinnis & 825, and New York Dolls-influenced punk band the Pale Imitations. The sound mix was muddy, but 9th Wave’s set list was excellent, the highlight being an amped-up version of one of their slower songs, Spy Lounge.

Inspiring true story: Rosado survived a horrific fire later in the decade to regain the use of his hands and his other limbs, and returned to play as ferociously as ever. .

A Killer Twangy Guitar Triplebill in Bushwick on the 16th, Barring the Unforeseen

New York seems to be in the very early stages of a turnover in music venues. It’s completely balkanized at this point, but there are good things happening on the ground if you look hard enough. One excellent triplebill at an unexpected spot is coming up this Nov 16 at 8 PM. A couple of rewardingly unorthodox surf bands, the Zolephants and the bracingly Middle Eastern and Greek-flavored Byzan-tones open for guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ wickedly catchy janglerock band Girls on Grass at Wonderville, a bar and video arcade at 1186 Broadway in Bushwick. Take the J to Kosciuszko St.; it’s a pass-the-bucket situation.

The Zolephants are a side project for cinematic psychedelic Americana iconoclast Ben Lee a.k.a. Baby Copperhead. In this instrumental project, Nami Coffee’s mono bass synth bolsters Lee’s twangy, judiciously layered guitar multitracks over Bill Bowen’s drums. Their 2018 cassette release Islands of Neptune is still up at Bandcamp.

The opening number, Legend of the Black Snake starts out like late 70s Can and then goes fast forward a couple of decadea, in a Phantom Surfers direction before coming full circle on a much more disquited note. The second track, Speed Demon also echoes the Phantom Surfers: you could also call it a clangier take on the haphazard sound Man or Astroman were mining in the early 90s

Seven refers to the time signature. It’s funny and surf-insider-y AF. Track four, sarcastically titled Cheesy Intro, follows a familiar chord progression and then diverges into a long, rewardingly unpredictable sequence.

Truth or Consequences is a coy bolero-beat southwestern gothic theme. Fueled by a snappy bassline, Hey! Solid Citizen balances fuzzy, sailing synth and catchy guitar jangle. The closing number, Scratch starts out as if the band are going in a moody flamenco-surf direction, but they make quasi Egyptian reggae out of it instead.

Their somewhat more traditionalist 2016 debut ep is also up at Bandcamp as a free download. The first track, Bleeding Lungs is a brisk, skittish take on a loping desert rock theme. They open Behind the Fortress slowly and expansively before taking it into edgy hash-infused rembetiko rock.

Number 9 is the most psychedelic tune here, a loopy, trippily rhythmic tune underneath a wry Beatles-inspired samples pastiche. The trio electrify an old Greek gangster theme, Black Eyes, with some gritty tremolo-picking from Lee: it’s the band’s best song, at least among the Bandcamp tracks. They close the record with a goofy, skronky miniature.

Get Your Reverb Fix This Saturday Night at Otto’s With the Surf Junkies

One of the most telling signs of how the plandemic turned New York into a second-rate artistic hub is how venues are reacting. Take Smalls jazz club, for example. For decades, they had two acts a night plus the midnight jam session. These days, the headline artist is also responsible for the jam, and where a monthly gig there used to be reserved for an elite few, bandleaders are playing two or three shows a month there now.

That paradigm works all the way down the line to Otto’s, where the monthly surf rock show used to feature as many as five acts. This month’s installment there on Nov 5 has only three. The night starts at 8 with a mystery band who call themselves Drip 2.0 and could go either way, but the groups afterward are excellent.

Headliners the TarantinosNYC, who play at 11-ish, have been around since the zeros and have evolved into a surprisingly sleek, cinematic outfit that match their name. The Surf Junkies, who play in between at around 9, just put out a debut short album, streaming at Bandcamp,

The Washington, DC quartet of guitarists Max Gonzo and Larry Atom, bassist El Kabong and drummer Vic Vegas obviously do not take themselves seriously, as befits a surf band, but their original songs are dope.

They build the opening track, The Tube, from a funky strut to a big anthemic payoff that wouldn’t be out of place in the Ronnie Earl tunebook.

The band blend subtle latin influences into the tightly wound Barrel Pounder and close the record with Surfer’s Lament, awash in spare, enigmatic, wide-angle chords over a slow clave beat.

Every surf band plays Tequila, but….do you have to record the damn thing? At least this version has more slashing guitar work than most groups give it. It’ll be interesting to see what else they have up their sleeves this Saturday night. Word to the wise: if you don’t know the club, they have an ID scanner and use it on everybody. Like, everybody: if you’re 90 and on a walker, expect to be carded. Bring your passport since ID scanners don’t work on passports, and this is no time to be leaving a trail of electronic crumbs that could wind up on a social credit score.

Darkly Propulsive, Unpredictably Cinematic Instrumentals From Under the Reefs Orchestra

One of the most enjoyably uncategorizable albums of the year is Sakurajima, the latest release from the Belgian group Under the Reefs Orchestra. The trio of guitarist Clément Nourry, saxophonist Marti Melia and drummer Jakob Warmenbol blend elements of suspense film music, horror surf, crime jazz, postrock and shadowy instrumental rock from Morphine to the Dirty Three. John Zorn’s surfier adventures also seem to be an influence.

Melia’s baritone sax alternates between melody and punchy basslines. The opening track on the album – streaming at Bandcamp – is Heliodrome. It comes across as the missing link between Friends of Dean Martinez (or Big Lazy in a slide-driven moment) and Morphine, with a careening slide guitar solo and then a propulsively smoky one from the baritone. The group join forces in an increasingly savage ride to the end.

The album’s second song, Ants, is a moody, syncopatedly vampy quasi-surf tune with a crescendo that goes from droll, to feral, to unexpectedly skronky. The trio build the album’s title track out of a steady, gloomy, Morphine-like theme to a hypnotically pulsing backdrop for Nourry’s flaring psychedelic wah-wah work and squirrelly surf riffage.

Galapagos is a cheeky, metrically tricky tropical tune with a sinister undercurrent, Nourry shifting between balmy slide and jaggedly rhythmic lines, with an elegantly baroque-tinged counterpoint as the song winds out.

How invasive is Kudzu? This is a killer plant! Warmenbol provides a suspensefully tumbling drive for a dark vamp that dissolves into dissociative psychedelia before the band get back to furtive business.

The band take a dubwise, catchy strut up to a shrieking peak in MIR and follow with the album’s big epic, Soleil Trompeur, melancholy sax wafting over spare guitar jangle. Deep down, it’s a soul ballad, with a long build to a payoff that’s too good to give away.

They close with Mendoza, an Ethiopian-tinged take on Morphine. Every single song on this record is full of surprises: this band seldom go in the direction you expect. One of the most intriguing and original albums of 2022

Creepy Coincidences and a Mysterious Band From Kiev

In his indispensable News From Underground feed, Mark Crispin Miller recently shared a shocking video by Hugo from Hugo Talks (scroll down toward the bottom of the page), addressing what the blunt, plainspoken podcaster calls Mass Formation Colour Programming. The barrage of blue-and-yellow color schemes is a dead giveaway, particularly since it was rolled out during the earliest days of the plandemic, more than two years before the war in Ukraine.

Remember how propaganda graphics, both physical and online, were all rolled out in sync around the world in March 2020? Hugo focuses mostly on the British and European side, but the suspicious juxtaposition of blue and yellow also existed here in the US, as you can see on the NYC mobile lethal injection bus pictured toward the end of the 12-minute clip.

As we remember from George Orwell’s 1984, Oceania was always at war with Eurasia. The war in Ukraine, and how the lockdowners foreshadowed it with these psy-op visuals, is further evidence of how the plandemic was only part of a vastly more ambitious scheme to transform the world into a computer-surveilled feudal slave state.

What appears to be happening in Ukraine is an orchestrated conflict where NATO deliberately “provoked” the corrupt and murderous Putin regime, who responded in perfectly choreographed fashion. Remember, years before the color revolution in Ukraine, Putin was badgering for NATO membership for Russia.

Unfortunately, as has so often been the case throughout history, the people of Ukraine are being murdered and imperiled simply for the misfortune of having been born on fertile and strategically valuable terrain. Just as unfortunately, because the psy-op planners have largely pivoted, from the now-flatlined Covid injection scheme, to Ukraine, there’s been an anti-Ukraine backlash in certain circles in the freedom movement. And that’s something we have to resist.

New York Music Daily was launched in August of 2011. The first album ever reviewed on this page was a hauntingly beautiful Ukrainian choral suite dedicated to the victims of Chernobyl. Which makes sense, when you consider that this blog’s owner has Ukrainian heritage.

That same year, three years before civil war broke out there, Kiev band Night Surf released what appears to be their only album, a six-track collection of instrumentals titled Light. In an even creepier coincidence, the band share a name with a 1969 Stephen King short story about the aftermath of a virus that wipes out much of the world’s population.

Other than a Bandcamp page, where the album is still available as a free download, there’s nothing about the group online in English, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in Ukrainian either. The Bandcamp page doesn’t list the names of the three women, a guitarist, bassist and drummer. So far there’s been no reply to this blog’s attempt to contact them through Bandcamp.

It’s a fascinating record, a mini-suite of sorts. The first track, Bitter, is a swaying stoner boogie number with sunbaked wah-wah raga riffage over a bubbling bassline. The second song, Suffer could be the Cure playing a Savage Republic theme circa 1984, imbued with equal parts Joy Division resignation and trebly Messer Chups surf jangle.

The band pick up the pace with an icy bass/guitar intertwine in Keep Breathin’ – a prophetic song title if there ever was one. From there they take a brief detour into a southwestern gothic theme and then Used, a striding, artfully assembled web of multitracks. The final cut is a “reverse version” of Keep Breathin’ which offers further evidence of a Savage Republic influence (remember Exodus and Sudoxe?). Let’s hope this so-far nameless trio are still with us somewhere on the globe and still making music as intriguing as this.

A Venomous Horror Surf Show to Kick Off Halloween Month in the East Village

New York started falling off the radar for touring rock bands a long time ago, before this blog even existed. But once in awhile one of the really great ones comes to town, and that’s happening this Saturday night, Oct 1 when one of the world’s great horror surf groups, Beware the Danger of a Ghost Scorpion headlines at Otto’s at 11 PM. In case you haven’t spent much time in the East Village lately, bring your passport. The club was an early participant in the World Economic Forum digital ID scheme, and they use an ID scanner mercilessly. Digital scanners don’t work on passports…yet.

These sepulchral Scorpions’ latest album is a searing concert recording from The Worthern in Lowell, Massachusetts on July 28, 2017 and up at their Bandcamp page as a name-your-price download.

They open the show with the grimy, surprisingly bluesy twin guitar attack of Boris Frankenstein’s Nightmare, complete with trick ending. Then they hit their signature chromatic menace with Caught Dead – it isn’t long before one of the guitarists, who go by goofy stage names, starts shedding toxic sparks of tremolo-picking.

They ease their way into Texas Blood Money with a drifting, muted psychedelic interlude before they hit the song’s grim trail-riding theme. They mash up some Led Zep-style riffage around an evil snaky surf theme in Straight to Darkness, then blast their way through I’m Shy, which is anything but and has some tantalizing twin lead riffage.

As Hot As Hell, with its luscious web of chords and intricate counterpoint, is the best song in the set and underscores the level of craft in these guys’ songs: never mind the horror film shtick. The set’s next number, Red River Tombstone Hustle is sort of a syncopated pseudo-redneck Munsters Theme.

The masked foursome careen further off the rails in She’s Howlin’ over one of the snappier basslines in the set, with a twistedly sarcastic blues breakdown toward the end. They go back to a pretty unhinged noir bolero chordal intertwine in Planet Slime and follow with Haintmaker, a catchy pastiche of minor-key blues riffs awash in reverb and a little feedback. They close the show with a pretty desperately charging take of the the title track from their killer debut ep, The Legend of Goatman’s Bridge. Grab this macabre gem while you can.