For all you surf rock fans out there, I come baring good news. If you’ve never heard of Portland, OR’s Guantanamo Baywatch then you have a new favorite contemporary surf act to discover. For those of you out there already familiar with this band, then you’re keenly aware of just how amazing these folks are. Playing a brand of surf that leans heavily on punk and garage rock roots, Guantanamo Baywatch charge hard with some real foot stompers. Their debut LP, Skin Crawl, is a modern classic of the surf genre and proof that old styles can certainly be taught a new trick or two. Sonically, the band has masterfully recreated the instrumental tones of some of the great forefathers of the genre like The Lively Ones, The Marketts, and The Tornadoes. Additionally, the band delivers the goods live just as you’d want them to. Sets where reverb drenched guitar licks and vocals glide and peel through the air just as easily and sometimes wildly as people do on barreling waves is something I can easily get down with. Whether you’re digging recent acts like The 5,6,7,8’s and Bombón or classics like Dick Dale and The Ventures, Guantanamo Baywatch is definitely something to be checking out.
When the debut Mind Spiders LP was released last year, it was initially mentioned in passing whispers*, and believed to be a temporary music outlet for the Marked Men’s Mark Ryan. Then people actually listened to what was (IMHO) one of 2011’s finest. Well, it’s 2012 and Ryan and co. are back. The new LP Meltdown comes out February 21 on Dirtnap. Here’s the first track, “Wait For Us”.
Not enough? While you’re waiting for the new record, kick back, crack a king can of Tecate, put up your aching dogs, widescreen your YouTube and watch this excellent video of the Mind Spiders’ New Year’s Eve show in Denton.
*Somewhat like a new temp passing by the secretary’s pool of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
From Bad Sports’ tongue-in-cheek pre-teen pop punk to the more hallowed and harmonious ground of former Shins member Dave Hernandez’s Little Cuts, Dirtnap Records’ 2012 Sampler is a volume of variations on garage punk, all buzzing with high voltage and hailing from basements throughout the land.
Mean Jeans and one of my favorites on the sampler, the sick and sludgy surf-rocking Guantanamo Baywatch, share the label’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Another great record off Dirtnap this year and this is by far the best
Nervosas has done so far. All lovers of deathrock, T.S.O.L., and Wipers
should look no further because this is what you’re looking for.
I’ve wanted to do a record exactly like this for a while now, so I’m actually kind of pissed Nervosas did it first (and probably better than I ever would, at any rate). But I can’t really be bitter because this is SO goddamn good.
I’m pretty sure I now know why Mark Ryan decided to call his newest band Mind Spiders. Their music is a furry insect that burrows into your brain and spins a death web. Said insect will reside in the corners of your mind as it feasts on all other inferior bugs and thoughts that land in its web. Meltdown, the newest hotness on Dirtnap Records, does exactly just that, and trust me, its a feeling you can get used to! Things really must be bigger en Tejas, because the hooks are laaarge and in chaarge! This album is pretty blazin’ all the way through, but the one or two times it does slow down, it doesn’t seem forced and is a refreshing welcome. It’s a smooth sail from start to finish packed with killer tones that most synth-punkers would give their right arm for. I can already tell this will be the soundtrack of many a gnarly skate sesh in my near future. So please, do yourself a favor, stop reading this, and give a listen!
Guantanamo Baywatch might be be surf rock’s best kept secret. Every time I put on their latest album, “Chest Crawl,” people always want to know more about this band. I couldn’t stop listening to this album last summer, it reminds me of not having a job and going swimming every day, without a care in the world.
For me, the label “pop punk” got real tired and worn out, mostly because the genre just got saddled with way too many shitty mall punk bands. But I’m a punk rocker at heart and when a band like Mean Jeans makes punk sound as fresh as it did back when the first couple of Descendents LPs hit the record stores, you just can’t go wrong. Mean Jeans’ new LP On Mars is just about to make everyone feel young again.
Songs like “Hangin’ Tuff” and “Ready 2 Rip” are party punk anthems that bounce down that gloriously catchy path that the Ramones first tread. Mean Jeans up the ante by adding a dirty bubblegum garage veneer to their mischievous punk vibe. The discerning listener in me may think the three chord punk on the new LP sounds a bit derivative, but when played this passionately and when the songs get stuck in your head so long, fuck the critical side of my brain. Just play “Don’t Stop Partying” and pour another round for the friends at your place.
Music doesn’t always have to strive for lofty artistic ideals. Mean Jeans is sloppy rock ‘n’ roll at its most primal core. Anyone who’s seen them live knows it’s about the hazy late night memories you hold onto long after the hangover is gone. On Mars captures that manic energy of their live shows, and it’s near perfect despite its imperfections. Several songs slow down the pace of the album and seem a bit half thought out. I could do without “2 Twisted 2 Luv U” and “Mean Jeans Forever”, but I can’t fault them for actually releasing an LP over thirty minutes.
Fans of Dirtnap’s catalog and especially the snotty punk scene in Texas ought to take note. Means Jeans rip out the punk jams just as hard as the Marked Men, the Riverboat Gamblers and Steve Adamyk Band. Listen to “Hangin’ Tuff” and “Ready 2 Rip” below, and go buy On Mars from Dirtnap Records.