KFJC 89.7FM

Cousin Mary

Vicissitones – "Vicissitones" – [Self Release]

Cousin Mary   3/4/2020   A Library, CD

A fine four-piece surf band from Ann Arbor, Michigan gives us 8 tracks of rocking instrumentals. Good arrangements, original compositions, some leaning toward lo-fi punk. (By the way, vicissitude is defined as “a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant“.)

Play The Astronauts & More, The [coll] – [Surfer Joe Music]

Cousin Mary   2/8/2020   12-inch, A Library

The Astronauts were a band from Colorado who were active in the 1960’s. Their records sold especially well in Japan and their version of Baja and other Lee Hazelwood tunes are legendary. Surf bands today still cover their music and greatly respect their musicianship. This album is an homage from two European surf bands – the Kilaueas from Germany and Surfer Joe from Italy. The tunes are faithfully rendered but with a modern European twist. Very fine playing and arrangements, this LP is very, very special.

Durette, Liz – "Delight" – [Feeding Tube Records]

Cousin Mary   1/30/2020   12-inch, A Library

This is solo keyboard improvisation by Baltimore musician Liz Durette. Quite unique, sounding at times like a calliope, horns, accordion, piano, guitar and more. The cricket pieces are certainly insect like. Playful but not cute, often dissonant and weird. Very original and thought provoking. (Sounds pretty good at 45rpm, but determined it is 33rpm by matching track times printed on the album cover.)

Perspectivas [coll] – 33RPM

Cousin Mary   1/18/2020   7-inch, International

In Paris, Luis Briceno recorded interviews and music that were broadcast in Chile 2013-2016 featuring musicians from before the 1973 coup d’etat that toppled Allende’s government. There is an “old is new” theme to this album (1) that these musicians of the past will be new to many Chileans and (2) that the old flexidisc format within this book will be new to many who play it.

The music is very enjoyable and the sound quality is surprisingly good. It features flutes, guitar, drum and vocals in Spanish. Just flip the page to the disc that you want, put the book on the turntable, and drop the needle! More here https://vimeo.com/269718583

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.

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