KFJC 89.7FM

Cousin Mary

Barnson, Matthew – “Vanitas” – [Innova Recordings]

Cousin Mary   11/19/2019   A Library, CD

Three pieces composed by Matthew Barnson. The first one for orchestra is mysterious and based on grief – it reminds me a bit of George Crumb’s Black Angels. The other two compositions are for smaller ensembles and are provocative and at times whimsical. Fine examples of original takes on modern classical music.

Eldanka – “Rusty Treasures” – [Self Release]

Cousin Mary   11/13/2019   A Library, CD

Excellent instrumental work from this 4-piece ensemble from Toholampi, Finland (about 500 kilometers north of Helsinki). All original compositions by lead guitarist Mika Jamsa. Twang, surf, jazz influences with some extra instruments and electronics that add interesting touches to the guitars, bass and drums. Something a little different to play in your surf set.

Battle of The Surf Bands Vol 8 [coll] – [KFJC]

Cousin Mary   11/2/2019   A Library, CD

From the 8th KFJC surf battle held in May of 2019. Each of the 13 bands has a track on the CD and a video of a track on the USB drive. Held every 2 to 3 years for the surf music community to say thanks to KFJC for its support.

Glasgow TIki Shakers – "Happy Halloween" – [Tip Top Records]

Cousin Mary   9/18/2019   A Library, CD

This surf/tiki trio from Los Angeles is here at their spookiest, zaniest best. Great instrumentals and arrangements with all the scary touches such a howling, chimes, birds, cats, whistling wind, horses neighing, gunshots, squealing tires, growling and moans. Good fun with the horror, but good music even without it.

Rumble At Waikiki – The John Blair Anthology [coll] – [Bear Family Records]

Cousin Mary   8/24/2019   A Library, CD

An absolutely stunning retrospective of surf music and other genres from guitarist John Blair. Track 1 is blue grass, Tracks 2-4 are rockabilly, and the last rather mellow tracks are acoustic guitar duos with Marty Tippens. The line notes describe his history as a musician and the meticulous detail reminds me of his book The illustrated discography of surf music, 1959-1965. If someone asks you for a definition of surf music, just play Geronimo (CD1, track 15). Fun radio ad for a show on CD1, track 11. Highest recommendation!

Timara: Electroacoustic Music At Oberlin [coll] – [Hanson Records]

Cousin Mary   8/22/2019   12-inch, A Library

These are works from faculty and students of Oberlin’s TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) School. The tracks are not too long and give very intriguing examples of electroacoustic music using electronics, field recordings of voices, sax, bassoon, didgeridoo and more. Quite unique and very good listening.

PGM – Track 3 seems to be silent.

Del Novas, The – “A Surf Odyssey”

Cousin Mary   8/21/2019   A Library, CD

This four-piece band is from Sonoma County. Although they have traditional surf music influences such as spy, space, and Tiki, their jazz influence is especially interesting. For example “Surfin’ Wes” is referring to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. Some nice dreamy stuff, well played with a delightful difference.

Trabants – "Freakout" – [Lolipop]

Cousin Mary   8/7/2019   A Library, CD

Eric Penna is a guitarist and in this release a multi-tasking musician, composer and recording engineer. The album is instrumental and certainly can pass for surf music but is much more giving us glimpses of psych, spaghetti Western, and exotica. Nice touches of the Hammond B-3 and trumpet on some tracks. Interesting, different and well played.

(Trabants are East German automobiles.)

Par Avion – "Surf The Friendly Skies/Nashville Surfline" – [Self Released]

Cousin Mary   7/13/2019   A Library, CD

Three piece surf music band from Southern California headed up by guitarist Bernard Yin (who has been in many bands including Brazil 2001), his wife bassist Rebecca Ramirez, and Derek O’Brien on drums (Social Distortion, Agent Orange). Excellent playing on these tracks, with some Latin, spaghetti Western and country tinges. Good twang and reverb and I hear that these guys actually surf!

Young Barons, The – "Bitchin'" – [Self Released]

Cousin Mary   7/13/2019   A Library, CD

The Young Barons are aptly named – a teenage surf music trio from Rockaway Beach (Pacifica). These covers of surf classics are well played and arranged, great energy overall. Authentic and yes, indeed, bitchin’!!

Mermen, The – “A Murmurous Sirenic Delirium” – [Kelptone Records]

Cousin Mary   7/3/2019   A Library, CD

The Mermen from Santa Cruz call their work “psychedelic instrumental ocean music”. Embraced by surf music fans as well as others. Fine playing from Jim Thomas on guitar, Martyn Jones on drums and Jennifer Burnes on bass. Good energy on some tracks like (1), others are more easy going and relaxed. An especially good album from a long excellent band – all killer, no filler.

Antonyms 1 – “Established Mode of Speech” – [Sub Rosa]

Cousin Mary   7/2/2019   CD, Jazz

These four tracks by a saxophone quartet (Steve Lacy on soprano, Ned Rothenberg on alto, Roy Nathanson on tenor and Eric Sleichim on baritone) are from a live performance. Breathy and honky but it never gets monotonous. Very pleasant in an abstract way. The enthusiastic audience response make me think it would have been fun to see and hear this live.

Messer Chups – "Spooky Hook" – [Gitaracula Records]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2019   A Library, CD

Here is a winning surf music album from the beyond compare St. Petersburg, Russia band Messer Chups. “Gitaracula” Oleg plays with a complex, wet, surfy, energetic twang. The beautiful “Zombierella” Svetlana on bass and Eugene on drums are an outstanding rhythm section. Mostly original compositions but with a couple of soundtrack references (track 7 and 11) and even a quote of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor (track 4). Outstanding!!

Frisell, Bill – "Guitar in the Space Age" – [Sony Classical]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2019   CD, Jazz

This is an homage to the great electric guitarists of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Represented are surf, blues, psych and exotica as played in fine Bill Frisell style. Purists might complain that the tracks are not like the originals while Frisell fans might find it a bit light weight, but I think it is just right.

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