Susan and The Surftones CD review

Music Reviews
Susan and The Surftones CD review
Jul 10, 2001, 23:09


It's not 1963 anymore—you don't just pick up a guitar and start a surf combo these days. The talent level has become diluted and diffuse, and quite frankly, even if you do have the guitar chops, do you really want to emulate hoary old models like the Shadows' Hank Marvin, Davey Allen, or Dick Dale at this late date? And yet, surf never seems to die. Oh, it might get gimmicked up (Los Straightjackets), artsied up (Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet), or spaced out (Man or Astro Man?), but it lives on, refreshed in the nick of time by a young (er) talent pool. And here's a fine, if not flashily innovative addition to the ranks of the few, the proud and the twangy. While woman are often enthusiastic participants in the surfing life itself, and enthusiastic connoisseurs of the music, it's surprising that this is the first modern surf band I've encountered with a female lead guitarist. Susan Yasinski has worked for the better part of the last decade in Rochester, N.Y. and Portland (neither especially celebrated for their stellar surf conditions) refining the sound of the perfect wave. Yasinski acquits herself well, relying on tight, clean picking, rolling riffs and sunny, mid-tempo rhythms. The first part of the disc, a compilation of original tunes from her other work, is a bit same-y on close listening, but color is provided by Kim 13's greasy Farfisa organ. Things pick up halfway into the disc with the addition of a new rhythm section and “Beat Rider,” “Barbados Twist” and “Space Spider” evoke images of ghost riders playing beach volleyball, go-go rumbles, and urban surfaris. Saw on their webpage that they changed the cover of the disc from something that resembles the cover of a Microsoft operating system disc to something cool, blue, air-brushed and more befitting the genre. Good move. More confidence and better marketing can get this solid band to a wider audience. And let's face it, surfing alone might be fun, but digging surf music sure isn't. [Acme Brothers]

-Cecile Cloutier

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