May 12, 2017

850 songs, that is, on my Zen Surf music collection featuring surf music both classic and contemporary from around the world. I’ll admit that since my last post on this most respected and underappreciated rock music genre, my collection has laid pretty much fallow since my last post nearly two years to the day. But a couple of things happened recently that inspired me to re-engage to see what was out there: 1) listening to it over the past few days while working made me realize it had become a little stale and predictable, and 2) stumbling on a couple of new (at least for me) and exciting surf bands while ordering other stuff on

Regarding #1: it’s no surprise that I’d be posting about surf music around the same time as my last post. Just like August draws me into listening to classical music for a couple of months before the fall draws me back to music by Pink Floyd and Gordon Lightfoot, among others, and after the New Year my taste turns to my Tropical Breezes collection, as soon as spring starts thinking about turning into summer and the days start getting demonstrably warmer, I start listening to surf music. And as far as my Zen Surf collection goes, well, I’d put that up against anyone else’s surf collection. Still, it’s only natural that after a while you get used to hearing a lot of the same songs over and over again and you start thinking about what might be out there that you are missing.

Regarding #2: last Friday night I was poking around because I wanted to order the new Jimmy Buffett biography coming out in a few days (it will be my reading material when I go back to Massachusetts for Goodboys Invitational week in July) that Amazon pre-selected for me a release by The Bambi Molesters, a surf band from Croatia, which then led me to a band called Insect Surfers, which in turn led me to an all-girl band called The Neptunas, which finally led me to a wild and crazy “surf n’ roll” band Messer Chups from Russia. What can I say? I cranked up my Amazon Music application and started downloading like crazy.

The Bambi Molesters are a damned fine group – in fact, their release “As The Dark Wave Swells” is about as good a surf release as anyone has done. Their music is wonderfully arranged, not too crazy when loud, almost hypnotic in their quieter arrangements. And they have a very attractive bass player, Lada Furlan Zaborac, who plays as good as she looks. Here’s a YouTube video that’ll give you a good idea as to their look and sound. All their stuff is good.

Insect Surfers is a band from Washington, D.C., of all places. A solid surf band that serves up classic sounds with a hint (sometimes more than a hint) of psychedelia that has been around a long time – can’t believe I’d never heard of them. Here’s a YouTube video to give you an idea of what they look and sound like. Note the classic Fender equipment and the tiki in the background!

The Neptunas have what I would consider the most classic surf sound of the four bands. Lots of ’60s surf and garage rock influence here, almost as if the Go-Gos decided to go a little retro and try surf. I wouldn’t say their music is memorable, but it’s definitely surf and a worthwhile addition to the Zen Surf collection. Here’s a YouTube video of their sound.

I’ve saved the most exotic of the three for last. The only way I can describe Messer Chups is that they’re close to the surf band equivalent to what Pink Floyd was in how they use music as just one aspect of their multi-media approach. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what they’re identity is. Certainly, surf is the foundation for everywhere else their music takes them, but as their website explains:

In their music Messer Chups combine surf, beats, film samples, scratchy historical recordings, lounge-y and cartoon sounds from the 50?s and 60?s.The show is combined with video from trash cult movies of the middle of the last century – Betty Page, Bela Lugosi, zombies, Russ Meyer’s and Ed Wood’s heroes all mixed in video collages of the master Gitarkin. Messer Chups is the project of Russian composer Oleg Gitarkin, and while the band’s instrumental rock is hard to neatly categorize, it’s safe to say that it would be enjoyed by fans of rockabilly, horror punk, scratchy surf records, Italian slasher films, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, pulp fiction, lounge music, Ed Wood, the theremin, the Cramps, Russ Meyer movies and the theme song from “The Addams Family.” Gitarkin incorporates all of these elements and more, layering samples from Russian B-movies over weird vintage keyboard chirps and groovy horn loops.

What I found immediately striking about Messer Chups was that, like The Bambi Molesters, they have a female bassist named Zombie Girl or Zombierella who is – and I’m going out on a limb here – one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. What can I say? Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube video. It gives you a good idea of what the band sounds like. A few of their songs are a bit over the top – they really like to incorporate their love of horror into their music – but their music is unique and a welcome addition to Zen Surf.

So there you have it: in four very different bands a microcosm of why I love surf music so much. No bullshit rap, no phony synthesizers, just music played on real instruments that is clean and distinct. A genre that allows for lots of improvisation. A genre where you can’t hide behind space-age technology – either you can play or you can’t. And that includes female bass players. 🙂

Dudes (and dudettes), my Zen Surf collection just keeps getting better and better.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:08 | Comments Off on Zen Surf Turns 850 (And More!)
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