Category Archives: surf

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Ghastly Ones

The Ghastly Ones

Official Site

Target: Draculon, Ghastly Plastics 2006
Unearthed, Ghastly Plastics 2007

Well, Freaky Tiki Surf-ari has come to a close and I’ve saved what’s often regarded as (and rightfully so) the best for last. Not only do the Ghastly Ones play amazing horror surf jam-packed with horror movie references, but they also sell spooky Tiki mugs! Besides, how can you not love a band named after an Andy Milligan movie?

The band itself was founded in Van Nuys, California in 1996 and played their first show on Halloween. 1997 marked the release of their first album, A-Haunting we will Go-Go and they’ve been putting out new material ever since. In addition to the mysterious “Go-Go Ghoul” Necrobella, the band consisted of:

Garrett “Dr. Lehos” Immel: Guitar
Kevin “Sir Go Go Ghastly” Hair: Bass
Dave “Captain Clegg” Klein: Keyboards
Norman “Baron Shivers” Cabrera: Drums & vocals

I say “consisted of” since Sir Go Go Ghastly has since left to pursue other projects.

Target: Draculon is a musical and visual treat for all horror fans. In addition to the Vampirella injoke title, the album’s artwork consists of pictures and faux movie stills referencing every from “Big Daddy” Roth, The Astro-Zombies. In fact, one of the drawn creatures is clearly based on the infamous Moon Monster that once haunted various comic books. The album itself is themed around the idea of a soundtrack to a nonexistent sci-fi movie, with the music and brief skits forming the story (hence the use of fake stills on the album).

“Intro” opens with space sound effects and slow, pounding drums that are soon joined by an echoing narrator. Said narrator gives spiel on aliens that sound exactly like what you’d hear in an old movie. Then there’s a countdown to…

“Target: Draculon,” which starts with fast-paced guitars and drums over organ-sounding keyboards. The occasional shock sound effect is mixed in as well. One can things imagine the animated title sequence of the movie playing over this. They really crank up everything (especially the guitars and organ) for the ending.

Light, slow guitar cords open “Without Warning” while medium speed drums and organ appear soon after. The organ fades into the background as the guitars and drums speed up, but reasserts itself not long after. There’s some great guitar work here and it’s got a very creepy feel.

“Blood Countess Sees All…” is the first of the album’s skits, where we hear echoing space sounds and the evil laughter of the alien queen played by Necrobella. In “Grave Dig Her,” fast percussion and guitars are equal partners and some light organ work is mixed in as well. The drums can get rather “Wipe Out”-like at times. Another skit, “The Sighting…,” soon follows. We hear a car speeding by and music on the radio. It turns out to be the Ghastly Ones driving and getting interrupted by the arrival of a UFO and its occupant. The acting and dialogue are hilarious and really makes me wish that this was a real movie.

Heavy, pounding guitars and drums over a spacey “woo” noise signal the arrival of the namesake of “Shockmonster Stomp.” The name is almost certainly based on the old “Shock Monster” mask and I also suspect that mask was used for the pictures of the Astro-Zombie type beings mentioned earlier. The organ-sounding keyboard gets big role here and backed by drums, although it has a non-organ sound at times. The “woo” returns over the music and really rocking guitars appear about two minutes in. We hear shocks, scream and roar sound effects at the end.

“Now Fear This” starts with fast guitars and percussion backed by organ-like keyboards. There’s fun-sounding “organ” work and rocking background guitars here. That’s right, guitars aren’t always the lead in this, although they do work with the keyboards to form the end buildup. “Weird Spaceship…” is another skit, this time featuring the band exploring the spaceship while we hear space sounds and footprints. They eventually stumble across the find the blood countess and do a great routine about tomatoes.

Medium guitars and a male yell open “Spooky Girl.” Percussion and organs lead to vocals about a girl who “lives on top of a haunted hill.” Tambourine-like cymbals and guitars back things and we get a guitar solo and echoing yell often. “Double Agent 73 (who came in from the cold)” has a reverbing guitar intro followed by drums, light “organ” work and the occasional cymbal strike. Drums build up at one point and a strumming, rock riff does at others.

A keyboard pulse opens “Full Throttle, Empty Bottle,” and soon drums enter, then fast guitars. This track has a very interesting keyboard style and the organ sound used at times too, often with cymbals. Everything gets really wild about two minutes in, which signals a minor change in style until the drum-filled (but not exclusive) end.

“Flying Saucers Over Van Nuys” starts with space sounds, keyboards and slow cymbal strikes plus a guitar. An “organ” plays a funeral dirge and the reverb guitars builds up to faster, peppier beat. Fast drums, board and guitars play while the “woo” noise enters. The guitars and drums change style until it leaves and the keyboard briefly returns and exits before the ending.

The opening of “Dimension 66” consists of fast percussion and guitars layered over light keyboard use. I really liked the guitar work in this track. The beats get harder and harder, then go back to the original style before we hear a sample about a female monster.

“Brand New Sin” starts with a fast, rocking guitar, percussion and “organ” special. The guitar dominates over the light other stuff, which forms a very catchy beat under the male vocals. The lyrics include shout-outs to various horror figures like Jack the Ripper, Dr. Phibes, Sister Hyde, and Dr. Butcher.

“Llorona” appropriately starts with female wailing sound effects, given the origin of the name, then march-like drums and a slow guitar follow. After a scream guitars start low, but rapid drums get them to increase in volume and (somewhat) in speed. Organ-like keyboards take over at times and there’s good use of alternating drum beats and guitar riffs as well.

“Scuzz Ghoul Meets Curl’s Girl” starts with pulsing space sounds and screams that continue until an echo effect is added. Fast guitars and drums immediately burst in after. The style changes up to a slowish pace and then a jaunty “organ” takes over, but drumbeats start the change back to the old ways. Likewise, an echoing scream signals the closing guitars.

“I’m In…” is the final skit on the album, wherein the countess’ plans are revealed. In “Orbitron,” fast guitars and the occasional drum beat changes into fast drums and “organ” with the occasional guitar riff. The riffs get longer and more involved later on. Everything gets louder and heavier at one point and later changes styles again – similar to the original style, but with more guitar work. Some might say they’ve saved the best for last, but I love far too many of the tracks here to concur. Also, a hidden track that starts after a lengthy wait reveals eerie sound effects and echoing screams.

Next comes Unearthed, whose cover depicts a snazzily dressed green fellow lugging a large bag in front of an open grave. There some pictures of the band on the inside, including a faux lobby card.

The titular track “Unearthed” opens with digging, breathing and wind effects. This is soon followed by pounding drums, church bells and spooky organ music. The our host, the Ghastly Ghoul (C. Nelson) explains we’re listening due to loving the “weird, strange, and supernatural” and leads into the next track.

Slow guitar cords lead to a riff, then fast guitars and drums over light organ (it’s a real one this time around) in “Ghastly Stomp.” It’s so light you can barely hear it. I love the rocking, wailing guitars in this. Cymbals and guitars get a solo of sorts, but the organ comes in and cranks things up with sound effects.

“Robot Atomico” starts with electric effects and fast drums backed by heavy guitars. The organ soon arrives to spice things up for a bit. There’s odd (but cool) guitar effects in this as well. The “woo” sound from Target: Draculon returns for a spell, but gets taken out by the drums and organ. Said drums can be bongo-like at times. I suspect that the name might be loosely based on the original untranslated title of The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy.

The sounds of revving and zooming cars kick off “Haulin’ Hearse.” Fast guitars and percussion add to the rocking, rapid feel, although the drums dominate at times. The organ soon arrives as well. “Yuzo’s Twist” is one of two songs on the album not originally by the Ghastly Ones. The medium (in terms of both speed and volume) guitar soon gets louder and faster when the other instruments join in. There a lot of nice change ups between the guitar and drums before the organ closer.

“Hangman Hangten” opens with the sounds of wind and spooky bird calls. Marchlike drums play while the guitar plays a funeral dirge. After a coffin opens we get fast guitars and percussion, just the way you like it (along with the occasional chant of “hey hey hang ten”).

What seems to be a sample acts as a prologue to “Spooky (Diablo’s Theme).” As I recall, a man says “Don’t be afraid…unless you’re beautiful and alone in your bedroom” followed by a woman crying and screaming. Rocking guitars, fast drums and the occasional organ are both rocking and spooky. There’s also a cool reverb pseudo-solo. Oh, and remember the proto-GdL16 countdown I mentioned in my Daikaiju review? This song was also used in it.

Eerie moaning and wave sounds set the stage for “Banshee Beach.” Heavy drums and slow mournful guitars play, then the drums speed up while the guitars follow suite. Light organ work is later layered underneath. There’s a really cool guitar interlude at one point, too.

“Werewolves on Wheels” (inspired by the film of the same name) appropriately opens with revving sound effects, then great ghastly guitars play over bass. Percussion and organ later join in. The organ is much louder in this song, but is not the focus.

“Los Campiones del Justicio” is undoubtedly inspired by the Mexican “Los Campeones Justicieros” franchise. However, the opening role call of El Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras (which are also chanted during the song) shows that the two are not the same, as “Los Campeones Justicieros” had more than three members and El Santo was not a part of their roster. However, the lucha libre dream team of El Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras was featured in Las Momias de Guanajuato. After the echoing response of track name, we get slow guitars and fast cymbals. Things speed up when drums enter the picture and the organ is not far behind. As you might guess, there’s a Mexican feel to this track. The cheering crowd sample at the end is a great touch.

“Everybody Up” is the second of the CD’s two songs that aren’t written by the Ghastly Ones. After the fast drums and guitars, the vocalist calls for everyone to get up and light organs can be heard if you listen hard enough. Don’t miss the brief, but rocking, guitar solo.

Interesting guitars are joined by fast, bongo-like drums in “Mysterion.” They become fast, normal drums when the organ joins in. Said organ gets a much larger role here despite being in background. “Surfin’ Spooks” opens with a sample and fast, heavy guitars, along percussion and organ with the occasional sound effect. It’s rather “Wipe Out”-like at times, especially the ghostly laughter. Wailing guitars blast the ghosts away and we get a buildup to the reverb ending.

An eerie music stinger plays as our host asks us if we feel “The Icy Grip of Fear.” His little speech leads into final track: “(Everybody’s Doing) The Ghastly Stomp.” A reverb guitar is soon followed by a yell and percussion. Male vocals sing of a scary new dance called the “Ghastly Stomp” (the complete lyrics can be found in the liner notes). There’s plenty of great guitar work, as usual. There’s also the occasional cymbal crashes and amazing rapid drum work (provided by guest drummer Dave “Grave” Klein) overtakes the guitars and leads into slow ending, which involves a final yell and birds that cry out and fly away. As was the case with the last album, waiting awhile after that reveals a secret track. Said track plays a sample asking “how much shock can you stand?” This leads to a quick instrumental piece involving fast guitars, drums and cymbal strikes.

The Ghastly Ones have proven to be as great as I’ve heard from other fans (and then some). If you haven’t done so already, run out and grab a Ghastly Ones CDs. Your ears will thank you…

Special thanks to The Ghastly Ones for the review copies!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Satan’s Pilgrims

Satan’s Pilgrims

Official Site

Plymouth Rock, Musick Recordings 2004
Psychsploitation, Sp Records 2009

According to their official Facebook page, Satan’s Pilgrims formed in 1992 over a (quote) “series of house parties hosted by the members of the band” in Portland, Oregon. Basing their name on the exploitation film Satan’s Sadists, the Pilgrims soon became an official group and rocked wherever they performed.

The Pilgrims themselves say that the best album of theirs for horror fans to check out is Creature Feature. However, as said album is now long out of print, they recommend Plymouth Rock (which includes selections from Creature Feature)).) Said “best of” album is a two disc compilation of their greatest songs, along with plenty of rare and previously unreleased goodies. There’s even some video content (due to the use of enhanced CDs), but technical issues kept me from viewing it at this time. Apparently, it generated so much interest in the group that they reanimated from their hiatus in 2000 and have been performing ever since!

Disc 1 begins with the sounds of dragging chains and moving crates opens that open “Vampiro.” The drums and fast, pounding guitars (with one particularly reverby) of this tune are loosely based on the theme from the 60’s Batman show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Similarly, cymbals and speedy drums start things off in “Que Honda?” and are backed by guitars that soon take the center stage. Some light wordless male vocals appear later, which are barely audible under guitar work. A “Latin”-sounding buildup takes use to the reverb ending.

“Plymouth Rock” opens with reverb guitar work and a steady drum beat, both of which speed up a bit when the cymbals are added in. There’s a very classic surf feel to this. “Super Stock” use dual reverbing guitars over percussion to make for an interesting sound. I can easily imagine cruising along in a stock car to this.

“Grave-Up” starts with a spooky voice mentioning the title, with equally spooky organs that start up with guitars and drums. It slows down to a somewhat bouncy feel at some points, but it never seems too much of a contrast. The guitars really start wailing just under 2 minutes in, but go back to normal soon enough for the end. The opening drums of “La Cazuella” give way for reverbing guitar and its more traditional sounding counterpart. The exotica favorite, the guiro, appears as well. There’s an appropriately Latin feel to this segment and medium guitars play throughout. I think I detect some claves as well. Everything slows down to just guitars at the end.

“The Godfather” is a surf cover of the theme to The Godfather (of course). The guitars and drums are fast-paced at first, then they slow down and handclap-sounding drum beats give things an extra Italian feel. But as you’ve likely guessed, things pick up again not long after.

“Boss BSA” starts with fast drums and guitars and soon reverb is heard. It gets extra fast at times, although there’s a softish reverb solo about 2:30 minutes in. Drums quickly join them and things get a bit faster (but are still soft) and don’t slow down until the final segment.

“Peter Lorre” is named for the legendary horror actor and nicely starts things with “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” on the organ, followed by creepy, rocking guitars and percussion at breakneck speed. There are some really rocking guitar riffs about 1:30 minutes in and the cymbals get quite a workout here. There are also some light touches, perhaps a reference to Lorre’s humorous portrayal of some of his roles.

Soft, eerie violin music takes us in “Creature Feature,” then crackles and pops take us to guitars and laserblast-like reverb appears with the drums. It’s a mostly foreboding sound, but there are the occasional light guitar riffs. I love the wailing guitars over drums that play just before the four minutw mark.

Despite the name, “Shit Sandwich” is actually quite good. Drums, maracas and guitars with odd sounding reverb make this a rather unique track. The band chants the title at points. Reverb punctuates certain points and a tambourine briefly appears later. Watch out for the maracas at the fake ending, as the guitars return for the real deal.

“Chi Chi” uses light, medium guitars to open and they get just a touch louder when the percussion joins in. It’s peaceful, but energetic. It soon picks up with a Latin sound and clap-like drumming, but goes back to the original style soon enough. The single opening guitar “Soul Pilgrim” of is soon joined by the organ and tambourine, which foreshadows the sound of their Psychsploitation album. Some cymbals and drums appear as well and later to add to the beat, but this is really the organ’s song.

In “Badge Of Honor,” reverb guitars go fast and the backing percussion is even faster. There’s also lots of (thankfully) fake endings in it. Similarly, fast drums lead to equally fast guitars in “Surf Lyre,” although the guitar work is more varied. It’s another classic-sounding song…not that I’m complaining, mind you. In fact, I really love the guitar work here.

Soft, reverbing guitar cords increase in volume for the opening of “The Lonely Pilgrim.” Dual guitars and the sound of waves also heard here as well. It has a very lonely feel, and it’s hard to tell if it’s using cords or soft male sighing at times. “Ragtop” begins with fast-paced drums and cymbals, which seem even faster due to last song. Guitars join in, which are soon followed by reverb and organ. The guitars pick up at es (with really wailing sound at one point) as well and things really pick up towards the organ-filled ending.

High pitched guitars open for fast percussion on “Scorpio 6.” The organ drops in for a spell and vanishes as quickly as it appeared a few times, which adds to the spy-surf feel. Everything picks up for the big finish, which makes for a great way to close the disc.

Disc 2 starts with “Soul Creepin’.” Its opening steady percussion intros the light guitars and somewhat louder organ work. Both the guitars and organ pick up for a fast paced, rocking sound that is soon joined by cymbals, although it slows down somewhat for end.

“Haunted House Of Rock” starts with lightning sound effects and oddly reverbing guitar work thats leads to heavy percussion and another, wailing guitar. It’s all very spooky and there are more lightning effects later. I know lightning technically doesn’t make a sound, but I swear that’s what the effect is supposed to be.

Speedy, light drums and fast, wailing guitars give “The Outsider” a much lighter-hearted feel than the title would have you expect. There’s some crazy good guitar work here, along with some cymbals and the occasional harmonica!

Fast percussion and guitars open “Seaside Run.” Said guitars soon reverb up a storm against the cymbals and there’s some great drumming as well.

Guitars, drums and the organ form “Hot Coco,” which is a medium speed song. After a fake end, the drums briefly take over and then the others return. The organ makes it seem like the song is going to end at one point, but that’s also just a trick. Heavier-sounding fast guitars and percussion start “If You Wanna.” Lightish organ work appears at times, but the starting instruments own this for the most part.

“Harem Nocturne” starts with fast drums and loud, heavy reverb guitars, but said guitars tone it down a notch or two as the cymbals join in. Some bells appear when things really get fast and furious as well.

Medium guitars open “Spanish Head” and soon the reverbing starts. The percussion is fast in this, as it tends to be for most songs by the group, which adds to the track’s great sense of power and speed. The lightish guitars that start “The Hondell” are backed by fast cymbals and drums. There some kind of wooden percussion used here, followed by drum beats that remind the listener of clapping hands.

“Escape/Psychedelic Venture” comes from a Ventures tribute compilation. The opening slow percussion speeds up and fast guitars quickly join in. It eventually slows down with the organ for an urgent feel, then speeds up with a sound that will bring footsteps to mind. That effect leaves eventually, but the speed sure doesn’t!

“Green Chili” has slow, heavy drums and guitars which give it a Spanish feel. Cymbals pop into the backbeat as well. It may be be slower than other tracks, but is never boring. The final track, “Black Boots & Bikes,” makes great use of fast ‘n heavy percussion plus fast guitars. There’s lots of fascinating variations and change-ups to the music, along with the sounds of revving motorcycles used at one point.

The band’s most recent effort, Psychsploitation, feels so 70’s that I swear my carpeting started growing to shag length as I played it. It’s a concept album themed around exploitation movies, a close cousin to horror films. The cover looks exactly like an old (s)exploitation movie poster would. In fact, it’s easy to imagine that this is the soundtrack to some long lost Mantis in Lace-style film about a woman who goes on a killing spree after one bad LSD trip too many. Also..

Wait, I forgot to list the band members and what they played for the last album, didn’t I? Oh well, thank goodness they kept the same basic line-up (with a few additional instruments) for this:

John Pilgrim: Electric bass
Bobby Pilgrim: Electric guitar
Ted Pilgrim: Drums & percussion
Scott Pilgrim: Electric guitar percussion
Dave Pilgrim: Electric guitar, electric sitar, percussion & organ

“Dilation” opens with 70’s-sounding drumbeat followed by a “freak-out” sound effect, guitars and organ. The guitar builds up while more freaky sound effects play, then percussion and more guitars join in. Tambourines (or fast cymbals) and still more freaky sounds join the beat. There’s cool drum work at end plus one final sound effect.

W. Proctor’s “In the Past” has a sitar join the guitars and drums for a unique surf sound. Magical sound effects or chimes, cymbals and clacking wood further add to its uniqueness. There’s an organ and gong as well, but the sitar and guitars are the stars of this show. A guitar and tambourine backed by organ and percussion form “Chestnut Trees and Bumblebees.” The organ gets quite a workout here and I love the main guitar riff.

“Tomorrow Night’s Mourning” starts with fast guitars that are soon joined by drums for a funky beat. You’d better believe the organ gets in on the action at times, as do cymbals. “Wylde Tymes” offers fast paced guitars and cymbals, and the guitar reverb put to good use here before the drums kick in. This definitely has wild feel, especially the guitar work about a minute into it.

Although arranged by Satan’s Pilgrims, “Kaleidoscope” was written by one J. Gordon. After an organ intro, tamborine and electric bass join in. There’s lots of organ variations here, with some light guitar work to boot. It gets rather dark and freaky at the end.

“Tracers (Of Love)” has reverbing, echoing opening guitar notes that are soon joined by drums and the ever-present organ. The chorus of “buh buh buh” by male and female vocalists singing one after the other is too 70’s for words. Really. We get an instrumental interlude with some light vibraphone work by Doug Smith before the vocals return. Said vocals were provided by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford, Amy Faust, Jana Losey and Madison Christine.

“Night of the Face” starts with tinkling and sound effects, plus echoing female vocals by Amy Faust about seeing face in the sky. Then we get more sound effects, silence and rocking guitars over drums and organ. The playing gets extremely wild and freaky towards the end, which consists of more sound effects.

“Colours of Your Mind” features guitars over steady, speedy drums & cymbals beat. Reverb gets plenty of use here and thing get pretty freaky with organ at one point. The odd-sounding (but cool) fast guitars of “Psycle Pswami” play over equally fast drums and a funky organ. Things get very rockin’ here and the organ does have a somewhat otherworldly feel to it.

“Rainy Day Green Stop Sign” has a surprisingly non-surf guitar opening and drums, but the surf sound soon appears. There’s a medium feel to this in terms of volume and speed. I could be wrong, but I think our old friend the sitar shows up in this as well. The organ certainly does, that’s for sure. Drums and the guitar get a lengthy segment to themselves near the end.

The drum opening “Psych-A-Go-Go (Psych Out!)” leads to fast guitars over drums and the organ. We’ve got wild organ melodies and guitar riffs aplenty here. Soft vocals by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford, Amy Faust Jana Losey and Madison Christine chant “psycho” around two and a half minutes in. There’s a definite freak-out feel to this.

“10,000 Mirrors” is opened by a cowbell, tambourine and guitars. We hear a freaky sound effect, then guitars and percussion join in. Soon, more sound effects (that sound somewhat like screams) and the organ enter the mix. The drums get quite a workout; there’s a buildup and super freakout near the end, but things get much softer after it. The vocals hear were performed by Dave Pilgrim, Eric Hedford and Scott Pilgrim.

So whether you’re a long-time fan of Satan’s Pilgrims or if you’re just starting out, I definitely recommend that you grab both albums.

Special thanks to Satan’s Pilgrims for the review copies!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Surf Zombies

The Surf Zombies

Official Myspace

Something Weird, Oasis Manufacturing 2009

The Surf Zombies first came to my attention by the way of a “Rock and Roots” CD sampler. The split second I saw the song title “El Funebre (The Hearse)” and the band’s name on the track listing, I knew I was in for a treat. Listening to it confirmed my expectations and immediately got me hooked on the band’s work. So when the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari started, I knew I just had to include them.

Formed in 2005 by lead guitarist Brook Hoover, the Surf Zombies originally consisted of Hoover, Jim Viner on drums and Doug Roberson on guitar. But as the notes for their second album Something Weird (the subject of this review) explain, tour issues led to their replacement by Erik Marshall on drums and Kyle D. Oyloe on guitar. Fender jazz bassist Joel McDowell has also been a constant in the group’s changing line-up and wrote many songs for the album(along with Hoover and Oyloe). The album’s complete lineup includes:

Brook Hoover: Fender jazz guitar
Joel McDowell: Fender jazz bass
Kyle Oyloe: Fender jazzmaster & danelectro baritone guitar
Jon Wilson Drums: Drums on track 19
Charles Hasson: Drums on tracks 16 and 20
Erik Marshall: Drums on tracks 2, 3, 7, 11, 12
Ryan Hoagland: Drums on tracks 1 4 5 6 8 9 10 13 14 15 17 18

But enough about the band, let’s get to their music…

“El Funebre (The Hearse)” opens with a few Spanish-sounding chords which lead to a classic-sounding surf opening. The build-up drums signals the coming of a fast, rocking beat with occasional pauses for a reprise of the opening chords followed by numerous guitar variations and the buildup to more cords. Wavy cord leads to the big (but brief) finishing fadeout.

“Dead Man’s Alley” kicks things off with a powerful guitar beat backing another guitar and rattlesnake-like percussion. Cymbals come into play sometime later, as do echo effects at the end. I want to make a spaghetti western, just to use this song as the theme! “I Fell In Love With A Teenage Vampire” makes great use of two guitars after the fast, medium volume guitars and drums get things going. It gets especially rocking near the end. Twilight wishes it could be as cool as this song.

A few select cords lead to heavy, steady guitars and drums in “Road Rage.” There’s also a fake “ending,” then it gets going again with one guitar going wild. This track evokes the feeling of a long trip down a desert highway, and how butts will be kicked when the destination is reached. “50cc” starts with a single, heavy guitar and drums (with occasional cymbal) that builds in speed and intensity, all backed by an organ. It’s like someone or something closing in on its destination or prey. A wavy guitar appears before the organ returns in order to lead to a classic surf ending.

The guitar work of “The High Rip” is somewhat lighter than that of the above song, but it’s must faster and cymbals play a more active role here. Things get lighter and slower at one point, but soon speed up and the guitars then show a rock influence. This becomes a recurring part of the song and helps reinforce the sense of speed and urgency. I particularly enjoyed how the organ was used to simulate an idling motor at the end.

Heavy medium guitars and drums give “The Buzzard Hop” a sinister, but danceable feel and a lighter guitar appears about two minutes in. These seemingly contrasting elements actually go very well together. This track feels like a fusion of the band’s Kustom Kulture and horror surf style songs.

The titular track, “Something Weird” (named for the famous-or is it infamous?-cult video company, which is named for the odd film of the same name) has a heavy introduction with reverb and slow drums, then guitars kick in over the drum beat. They go through several variations and later return to drum break of the opening for very mysterious feeling. Reverb punctuates the guitar notes to great effect, and pounding drum beats are used for “breaks” of sorts. Things lighten up a bit towards end, but then gets faster and the guitars start really wail.

Fast percussion and peppy guitars form the intro of “Don’t Let the Admiral Out,” with both the drums and guitars sometimes slipping into quick, infectious breaks. A sense of power enters song after the second go at the opening style, plus the guitars get to crank things up. In contrast, “Candy Cigarettes” is very sweet and light in its use of guitar and drums, which are soon coupled with an even sweeter heavy-pitched sound. It stops for fairly “normal” guitar and drums break, but soon gets sugary sweet again and the guitar eventually reasserts itself at the fadeout. It’s definitely an interesting and fun change of pace.

The lone guitar of “Alien Eyes” soon gives way to a faster beat of guitars and drums. It slows down and adds cymbals at one point, only to get faster and more rocking for the remainder of the song. There’s very familiar “surf” feel to this, especially the guitar riff used with the pounding drums. Speaking of surf, “Surfin’ Ghoul” uses fast percussion to evoke building waves. This is soon followed by medium guitars and (of course) plenty of reverb. Cymbals added in as well to complete the mix.

In “Extended Tour,” brief drum bursts and guitars bring us into a cool surf beat. Said guitars get to really shine here and often work their reverb magic. The organ pops in to underscore certain points, but mostly blends into the background just under the drums until it takes over for the final part of the song.

“Leonard” uses a heavy, slow guitar to lead into similar-sounding drums and further guitar work. The surf influence soon makes its presence known and makes for a pounding, catchy whole. Medium guitars and fast percussion have exotic feel to them in a fast-paced, pounding tune called “Mind Worm.” There’s a very 60’s-sounding feel to it at times, which alternates with rocking guitars and steady drums. Spacey sounds get layered for the end, which is appropriate given that most mind-controlling, wormlike beings tend to be of alien origin in horror and science fiction tales.

“Crawl Space Crawl” has slow and heavy guitars and drums, but with a “bouncy” feel emphasized by the occasional use of reverb. Cymbals and guitar variations are used to great effect here, especially at the ending slowdown. Fast drums and guitars underscored by other percussion gives “Incognito” a decidedly sneaky feel. 60’s style guitar work appears at times here only to be engulfed by fast, heavy guitar and drums. There’s a rather downbeat feel to reverb here, presumably due to the seriousness of spy work.

The slow guitar start of “Electric Skull” speeds up somewhat and light, steady drums are soon added. The two guitars get a little more adventurous as things progress. Similarly, the reverb opening of “Rockabilly Boogie Man” gives way to fast rockabilly/surf guitars and drums. The awesome drum solos are followed by even more fast guitar goodness.

“The Zombie Stomp” use slow, medium volume drums and guitars, with the two contrasting guitar styles making things more interesting. Likewise, “Aqua Waltz” uses slow, heavy percussion and sound effects joined by very slooooow guitars. This gives the feel of dreaming or floating in ocean waves and is a great way to close out the album.

Effectively shifting through and combining various styles and genres, the Surf Zombies have put together one hell of an album. Although several of the CD’s 21 tracks are relatively short, they’re all amazing and never wear out their welcome. So if you’re looking for something new in horror surf, I highly recommend that you look into the Surf Zombies. You won’t be disappointed!

Special thanks to The Surf Zombies for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Man Or Astro-Man?

Man Or Astro-Man?

Official Site

Live Transmissions From Uranus , Touch and Go Records 1997 (Original release date: 1995)

Founded in Auburn, Alabama during the early 90’s, Man Or Astro-Man? soon rose to fame for both their excellent surf music and various gimmicks. Not only did they base songs on horror and sci-fi movies (even including samples from some), but all the members of the band use pseudonyms and claim to actually be aliens from outer space!

As a fan of surf music, Godzilla movies and Mystery Science Theater 3000, it was inevitable that I would repeatedly hear about the greatness of Man Or Astro-Man? Not only were they extremely talented musicians, but they did a cover of the theme song for Mystery Science Theater 3000, and included references to Godzilla movies in much of their work, from songs like
“King of the Monsters” to albums like “Experiment Zero” (Monster Zero) and “Destroy All Astro-Men!” (Destroy All Monsters). In fact, my love of Japanese monster movies led to my figuring out where the band got their name. While reading a book on Toho films, I noticed that the tag line on the US poster for The Human Vapor read “Is He Man? Or ASTRO-MAN?” Sadly, the band’s releases were all but impossible to obtain in my year and it was only due to my doing the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari that finally lead to me hearing their work.

“Live Transmissions From Uranus” is a recording of a 1994 concert in Gainesville, Florida that mostly consisted of material from the albums “Destroy All Astro-Men!” and “Project Infinity.” The performers consist of the founding members “Birdstuff,” “Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard” and “Star Crunch” (their membership has changed many times over the years). As this is a live show, the majority of the tracks have spoken introductions by the group and constant interaction with the screaming audience. However, my review will only make note of the particularly interesting or funny bits.

“Intro Sample” is actually an audio sample from the trailer for The Leech Woman. The first real song is “Transmissions from Uranus,” which opens with a guitar strum and space sounds followed by a band member interacting with a sample from It Conquered The World. The fast, heavy guitar intro adds in some drums and slows down a little afterward. Cymbals pick things back up and we get some lyrics or comments. It slows down a little more, only for the amount of reverb to increase in turn. This song alone is enough to justify their reputation.

Next up is a cover of Avengers VI’s “Time Bomb.” Clacking drum sticks lead to fast guitars and drums, along with subdued Hammond organ use and cymbals. There’s definitely a sense of power and urgency to this, just like a time bomb. I found the profanity-filled interaction between the band and the audience preceding “Special Agent Conrad Uno” to be especially humorous. We get drumsticks clack again, then medium guitars (with occasional reverb)and drums form the beat. It builds up until the guitars fade and let drums take over, only to return soon after. The track has a very classic surf feel to it, although some parts have sneaking feel to them.

“Sferic Waves” starts with a sample discussing lightning strike victims, followed by guitars and cymbals. They’re fast paced as (thankfully) usual, but this has a different overall feel from the other songs. The guitar styles meander and get a solo at one point, only for the drums to return. It’s not subdued drum use, which is fine by me. Climbing guitar riffs get layered over samples, until they overwhelm said samples as we’re taken out by instrumentals. In case you were wondering, the song title refers to a type of atmospheric phenomena.

“Destination Venus” is another cover, this one is by Jo Callis of The Rezillos. Before they start playing, the band jokes about not being an instrumental group and how they usually sing in range so high that humans can’t hear it. So this time, they’ll throw us a bone and lower it to a level we can hear. After launching into plodding drums and medium-light fast guitars, we soon hear them sing about love and going to Venus. The lyrics cleverly refer both to the planet and the legendary love goddess of same name. They pause for the crowd and seem to have ended the song, only continue up until the true ending.

The guitars and drums of “Names of Numbers” are fast and full of reverb. The drum beats get quite varied here, with the guitars being just as varied. “A Mouthful of Exhaust” starts with a fairly long and humorous band introduction about rhymes. This track has a very different guitar sound compared to the other songs, which goes very well with the drums. It’s kind of a hybrid with standard rock at times. The band pauses and a member coughs at one point. This is later followed by a sample from game show with low guitar underneath, but things pick up soon after.

“Cowboy Playing Bombora” is their unique take on “Bombora” by the Original Surfaris, prompted by a fan wearing a “sneaky space cowboy hat.” Cymbals and wild guitars, coupled with cries of “yee-haw” get things going. There’s lots of interesting variations in this; drums get backed by guitars and vice-versa. It can be somewhat march-like at times, but gets back to “normal” later. It’s very “rock” like at another point, followed by classic surf-style bits.

“Mystery Science Theater 3000 Love Theme” is, as you’ve probably guessed, a surf version of the theme from the cult TV series (more specifically, the version of the theme used for the “Joel years” on Comedy Central), complete with “la la las” and “Crooooooow!” Hilariously, the band’s introduction claims that this is the theme to their favorite show…Matlock. If they ever revive MST3K, Best Brains need to use this version as the theme at least once. Trust me, they know about it. Not only did creator/former host Joel Hodgson appear at a 1996 concert to sing along, but his character on the show was said to have done pyrotechnics for the group in his reappearance in the first episode of the show’s final season.

“Gargantua’s Last Stand” opens with a sample from the Japanese kaiju classic, War of the Gargantuas. guitars cymbals drums.. cymbals get a good workout here, but also plenty of breaks for the guitars to work their reverb magic. Personally, I feel that the “heaviness” at points in the song is supposed to remind the listener of the marauding green gargantua the song is devoted to.

“Surfari” is another cover of a song by the Original Surfaris. The guitars and drums have an appropriately old school feel and sound to them, and the hammond organ returns and practically takes over at one point. However, the guitars eventually reassert their dominance. You’ve got to love the classic reverb outro.

“Rovers” starts with long talk about technical issues and a person who got up on stage. A slow intro sample stops things, which soon speed up after. Drums and cymbals take center stage while the guitars back at one point in the song, but as we all know, it wont (and doesn’t) last. starts familiar but gets into a very different song and style after.

The Pixies’ “Manta Ray” is the first of the final two cover songs on the album. Light guitars and singing make up the intro, while drum beats and cymbals creep in only for the guitars to pick up later. There’s a very unique guitar solo in this track as well.

Jerry Goldsmith’s “Man from F.U.C.K. Y.O.U” marks the last of the album’s cover songs. The Hammond organ and guitars open things, followed by drums. It’s very fast-paced with special riff used whenever the band sings the title organization’s name. The organ is heard the most in this song.

“Eric Estrotica” is fast and feels like a road trip. Drums and cymbals are soon joined by a space sound. More precisely, it sounds like something tuning in onto a signal. It really picks up (in terms of both instruments) towards the middle. The sound changes up a bit after the guitar climbing cords, which leads to the drum-heavy ending.

The final track, “Nitrous Burn Out,” uses a sample about the Indy 5000 and the use of nitro in cars as its opening. We hear a car revving, then fast guitars and percussion. After a drum solo, the guitars return and join again to reform the speedy feel. The music gets heavier and faster after further more revving sound effects. Loads of space sounds get piled on…the kind you hear on cheap electric toys and keychains. Cymbals with the occasional drum strike are also backed by revving, only for the guitars to return. There’s also plenty of yelling, but I can’t tell if it is band or crowd. After the final revs and ending beats, there’s huge applause and the audience chanting for more. I certainly can’t blame ’em, as I feel the same way. But all good things must come to an end…

Thankfully, Man Or Astro-Man? itself has not come to an end. After ceasing from touring or releasing new material in 2001, the band made a surprise return for two performances in 2006 and the group’s Facebook wall has mentioned new shows for both this and next year. Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing even more great things (and music) from them in the continuing future!

Special thanks to Touch and Go Records for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Mission Creeps

The Mission Creeps

Official Site

Dark Cells, Refractory Records 2010

The Mission Creeps aren’t your typical horror surf band. Brandon Specktor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat described their unique style as “gothic/garage rock,” ReverbNation called it “reverb-drenched guitar, psychotic theremin and velvelty…” and one Frankie Estelle calls them a “Cramps-style surfabilly band.” The Creeps themselves have used the term “CreepDamageRock” while I personally define it as “dark surf crossbred with various other genres and styles.”

I suspect their ever-evolving style has some times to the group’s history. Back when the band was founded in Tucson, Arizona by singer/guitarist James Arrr, it had around 5-6 members and a constantly changing parade of drummers. This continued into their 2007 debut album In Sickness and In Health and their 2008 Ghouls Among Us EP. But Dark Cells marks a new direction for the Mission Creeps, as the band has been pared down to three members: The previously-mentioned James Arrr with Miss Frankie Stein on bass and newcomer Jeff DiDay on drums.

A heavy medium guitar and drums form the very 60’s-style opening of the first track, “Boneyard Scene.” Things pick up when the singer does, and we get a mix of surf music with blues and other stuff. I especially liked the cool guitar riff used in it. Mr. Arrr has lower voice than most singers on the Surf-ari, which gives things a very effective, serious feel. The best way to summarize this song to anyone who hasn’t heard it is that it’s like something that would play in a chase scene from an impossibly awesome, parallel universe version of Scooby-Doo.

“Monster (Massive Return)” has very rocking opening drums and guitar. The lyrics describe a Frankenstein-like stitched and surgically altered person who is unaware of how they’re seen by others. Even if it didn’t have the great (but short-lived) guitar interludes, it would still be incredibly catchy. The guitar and drums work extremely well together and the reverb fade out was an interesting way to close things out.

The soft opening guitars of “Dark Cells” are rather slow, but steadily increases in volume while the drums and cymbals are somewhat faster. Soon Arrr sings of isolation and darkness between the instrumental segments and wailing guitars nicely complement the subject matter.

The funky, slow opening drum (or bongo) beat of “Cannibals In Love” is occasionally backed by a and metallic-sounding guitar. Said guitar picks up a bit at times, but the overall feel is still slow. The drums ever-present throughout the song except during chorus, where the title is whispered. The interesting guitar use during the instrumental segment is also worthy of note. Despite what the name might make you think, is not an “obvious romance song parody.” It’s a serious tale of two cannibals stranded on a desert island whose lyrics discuss the inevitable um…”rationing” that must be done. The vocals ask what good are certain body parts if the singer can’t or won’t do certain things. For example, why keep a leg if you can’t leave the island anyway? Their haunting delivery will stick with you long after the song is over.

In direct contrast to the above track, the surf opening of “These Horror Twins” features a fairly fast guitar backed by rapidly-hit drums and cymbals. Reverb comes into play a lot over the course of the song. Somehow, it still works ever when the singing comes in. Just as the song before it ends with them, “Night Vision Eye” starts with drums and cymbals, along with the occasional guitar strum. The singing style and some other elements of the song bring “Riders on the Storm” by the Doors to mind. The guitar use increases during the solo, but this is mainly a drum-driven song with the guitar acting as a spice of sorts.

The rockin’ guitar opening and drum use of “Lucky Stiff” echoes the album’s opening track and also evokes the feel of a long road trip. The lyrics appropriately tell of a runaway who accidentally kills someone. Certain points are punctuated with guitar twangs. What starts as fast, medium volume guitar work becomes light and fast in background while drums and cymbals get the focus with the singer. It turns into the occasional riff and then goes back into full use (like the others) for ending.

“Dead to Me” starts with light, medium guitar work coupled with some drum beasts, and then gets slower when singer appears and sings of his “momma”. There’s a biker or “Kustom Kulture” feel to this song’s surf style, with the guitars building up during chorus and softening guitars (along with the drums) temporarily give way to singer alone. However, they return and build up to the reverb-heavy ending.

“They Look So Good In Black” opens with what sounds like a sample followed by fast, heavy guitars and drums. The singing is somewhat more peppy and upbeat, as the song is sung from the point of view of is a proud agent who is more eager to do his dirty work (and torture). It’s apparently based on true stories of the Bulgarian secret police during the days of the Soviet Eastern Bloc. The subject matter is nicely reflected during a very rocking, fast guitar interlude with faint drum use and snatches of monitored conversations.

“Nano Machines With Intent to Kill” opens with a heavy-sounding sound effect, then launches into cymbal strikes and light guitar use with the occasional drum strike. The guitar gets louder and more complicated; it’s vaguely “Wipe Out” like at points and mysterious and somewhat Middle Eastern sounding at others when it’s not doing its usual thing. Although it’s mostly an instrumental piece, there are some processed, echoing female vocals at times (presumably provided by Miss Frankie Stein).

“Arsenal of Charm” is the slow dance track of album, but the guitars and percussion do rev up at times. The slow guitar opening features an occasional drumbeat, which then becomes a full drum use appears the singing starts. Although it gradually goes into an instrumental part, the singer returns and things go back to the way they were, save for occasional “oooh” that’s sung up to the ending.

“Skull City Mine” has a much different feel than title would have you think. It’s an acoustic guitar ballad that tells of man dying in a mine and how it effects his family. Some parts of it vaguely call Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” to mind. Some interesting touches that come in later include a melodica joining in and faint female vocals that are used when the lyrics have the now widowed wife talking to her son (both of which are provided by Miss Stein). If the name sounds familiar to you, that’s because the name (and the song itself) appear in the 2009 horror film The Graves

Although some might be put off by the changes in song styles on the album, I feel that it makes for a unique, pleasantly varied listening experience. Apparently others feel the same way, as the Mission Creeps’ ventures into various musical genres has led to them playing everywhere from film festivals to the eighth Tiki Oasis festival. So whether you want some great new music to get into or just want a twist on surf music, get into the Mission Creeps ASAP!

Special thanks to The Mission Creeps for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Moon-Rays

The Moon-Rays

Official Site

Sinister Surf, Sound Imp Records 2006

This may surprise you, but I already knew about the majority of the surf bands I’m reviewing before I started the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari. If I hadn’t heard of them on my own, then Strange Jason had recommended them to me. However, there are a few exceptions. While researching some albums on Amazon, I noticed a recommendation for Swingin’ at the Seance by the Moon-Rays. Intrigued, I clicked on the link and read up on the album. A CD composed entirely from re-recordings of vintage Halloween songs from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s? It wasn’t eligible for the Surf-ari, but I decided to look up the band’s contact info and file it away for use in the next Halloween countdown. But in the profess of doing so, I discovered that the band usually did surf music and my plans quickly changed. And that’s how the Moon-Rays became the second surf band I had discovered during the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari, the other being Witches in Bikinis.

But enough about that, let’s talk about the band themselves. Formed in 2000, the Moon-Rays consist of Scott Mensching (percussion and vocals), Greg Griffiths (keyboards), Andy Blanco (saxophone and vocals), Brandon Cochran (guitar) and Paul Luka (bass). According to their Facebook page, the band’s first big break was in 2001. That’s the year they recorded the theme for the famous Creatures Features TV show. This foreshadowed the use of their music in many horror-related movies in the years to come (also noted on their Facebook page). Although much of their output in those days were cover versions of songs, Sinister Surf is one of their more recent ventures into albums consisting of mostly original material. But be it cover or original, the Moon-Rays always make it sound amazing.

“Sinister Surf” gets things going with a mix of bongos and a surf guitar. The appropriately spooky undertones are greatly enhanced by the wailing saxophone. Said bongos and saxophone build up to a big finish, which then brings us to the next track. Put on your beret and sunglasses daddy-o, ’cause “Spookwalk” has a very beatnik sound and feel to it (especially in its use of drums, cymbals and saxophone). Said instruments take center stage over the guitar and organ-sounding keyboard. The guitar later takes over and adds to the song’s definite feel of strutting down street, but the sax returns as focus for the ending.

“Drag Fink” is clearly inspired by Rat Fink, which is appropriate since the album is dedicated to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Bongos and soft guitars build things up, and cymbals join in with the occasional saxophone toot which grows into a riff of sorts. The guitar takes the reins until the sax takes over and gets assistance from some light bongo use as it fades out.

“Hare-um Scare-um” has a rather spooky organ (keyboard) opening. A guitar then starts in, with the “organ” merely providing backup. The finger cymbal clashes sprinkled throughout add a Middle Eastern feel. Drums pop in, along with a saxophone, then the organ gets more prominent role. Drum beats and guitar strums take us to the end. Although I doubt the song was intended as a reference to the fact I’m about to share, I still find it interesting that the Elvis movie Harum Scarum played on a double bill with Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster in some US markets.

“Hearse With a Curse” warns that there isn’t anything worse than the item mentioned in the song’s title and we’re warned not to buy it several times throughout the song. Creepy sound effects give way to a sax, drums, guitars and “organ.” The guitar use takes over for the organ by the time the humorously sung warning reappears. There’s also a skit of sort as some poor sap named Billy (Mensching) expresses interest in the cursed hearse, which the evil, laughing salesman (Blanco) takes full advantage of. As Billy drives off, the guitars wind down and we hear a hubcap rolling that suggests an accident has taken place. The liner notes say this was not written by The Moon-Rays and I can only guess that the group guest appearing on this track (The Dead Beats – Kathy Dunjai, Bill Holtane and Robert Lewis) originally composed it.

“The Devil In Nylons” uses a sax backed by drums and cymbals to conjure up the image of a dangerous, sultry figure. It can sound extra “surfy” at times, especially the “Wipe Out”-like part. The guitar strums and possible light vibraphone use give “Mysterion” an eerie feel to its opening. This mood is further enhanced by aided by sound effects. A guitar and the organ-sounding keyboard sets an assertive pace (but with hint of mystery as well). Drums pop in and out, as does a heavier-sounding guitar. Our old friend the sax jazzes things up while vibes, guitars and more sound effects bring things to a close.

“Night of the Rodent” has a classic surf buildup, with a shaking tambourine and saxophone wailing like banshee coming in soon after. Guitars and soft, wordless female vocals (by guest singer Joelle Charbonneau-Blanco) remain in the background for much of song, but do rise up on occasion (especially for the end).

“The Raven (for Beatniks)” has a “beatnik exotica” feel due to its vibraphone (played by guest musician Bruce Nelson) and drum-based opening, which is soon followed by the saxophone. Said vibes often underscore points and the sax gets long interludes in between the beatnik-ized lyrics before the song’s abrupt stop. One Maynard G. Krebbs is responsible for this unusual (but amusing) reworking of Poe’s classic and beatnik lingo guide in liner notes will come in quite handy for any confused listeners.

“Deep Into Midnight” starts with clashing cymbals and chimes, which lead into light guitar and piano (handled by Scott Mensching) work. The overall mood is very soft and relaxing, especially the saxophone use and female “la la la’s” and “oooohs. ” Magical sounding chimes pipe in at times and are use to great effect for the conclusion.

“Sophomore Werewolf In Love” is a bonus a ccapella-slash-doo-wop track, complete with finger snaps and a howling “a-wooo” chorus. It’s dead-on parody of the old “lovesick teenager” song, with the twist that the protagonist is also a werewolf. There are plenty of humorous asides, such as the lead singer commenting on the close proximity of a haunted forest to a high school and his being equally afraid of angry villagers and being grounded. His wondering about why this sort of thing happened to a good kid like himself will undoubtedly remind horror fans of the poem from The Wolf Man.

“Night of the Day of the Dead” is a hidden bonus track whose existence is hinted it on the back cover. It’s a Mexican-sounding surf song with excellent guitar work backed by drums and maracas. It gets somewhat heavier towards middle, but softens up just before fadeout. It’s easily one of my favorites from the CD.

Speaking of the CD, its designed to look like a vinyl LP. However, the grooves are printed on rather than actually being grooved like Strange But Surf’s Swimming in Reverb was. In any case, you should definitely pick this up. I think you enjoy discovering this album as much as I did.

Special thanks to Sound Imp Records for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Daikaiju


Official Site

Daikaiju, Reptile Records 2005

Not to be confused with the similarly-named anthology series, Daikaiju is a surf band known for music influenced by Japanese monster movies (hence the name) and the kabuki masks worn by the four band members in order to hide their identities. Thankfully, the band’s origins are much less mysterious.

Daikaiju first appeared in 1999 in Alabama, coincidentally(?) the same year that the classic Godzilla movie Destroy All Monsters was set in. After years of live performances and self-released CD-R singles, the band teamed up with Reptile Records. This resulted in their appearing on the 2003 compilation album Heavy Surf and the band’s self-titled debut album in 2005 (which I’ll be reviewing today).

Being a huge fan of surf music and Japanese monster movies, it was only natural that I’d stumble across their music and enjoy it. But even if they had used a different theme, I’d still love the wonderful mix of guitars and drums. This is definitely a case of music making the gimmick and not the gimmick making the music.

“Daikaiju Die!” starts things off with pounding guitars and drums, then later mellows out for a spell. It gets very reverb-heavy, picks up speed and mellows again in a return to the style of beginning and builds for a big ending. If you like this, you’ll definitely enjoy the rest of the material on the album.

“Attack of the Crab Women” has what can only be described as a “classic” style opening. The strumming speeds up and drumbeats get mixed in and some parts have much in common with prior track. This song is also an example of how modern surf bands (especially horror-themed ones) can do songs that evoke things associated with surfing and the beach without actually being about surfing.

“The Trouble With Those Mothra Girls” has a slowish opening, but the strumming and cymbal beats gives it a light and quick feel. But if those parts symbolize the little handmaidens, then the song revving up at points is probably a reference to their gigantic protector coming to save them (and destroy any buildings that get in its way). After “Mothra” subsides, we get a drum “solo” coupled with some light guitar work before it revs up again and fades out.

This particular song is quite special to me, as it was one of the songs I used on the proto-GdL16 Halloween countdowns I did on my old Myspace account. It started as me changing my profile song to something spooky every week or so in October, but Strange Jason suggested that I add reviews and articles to the mix in 2008 (even offering to do the same on his page). Although that part of the countdown eventually turned into Gravedigger’s Local 16 and never appeared on Myspace, the use of spooky profile songs went ahead as planned.

“Sharkakhan” starts off speedy with heavy undertones, like a massive beast swimming beneath the waves. It eventually speeds up even more and lots of “wet” reverb is heard until it goes back to original style. The title and tone of the song bring a giant shark monster to mind, like some distant, terrestrial relative of Gamera’s foe Zigra.

“Showdown In Shinjuku” opens with loud, heavy guitar use that sounds like massive footsteps. As things speed up, one can easily imagine a fast-paced brawl between two giant monsters in Shinjuku, with their loss and regaining of energy suggested by the alternating pace of the music and the drum-dominated ending signifying the final blows. “The Daikaiju Who Loved Me” has an appropriately soft, slow guitar intro, which then gives way to energetic beat that sets the tone for the rest of the song. It’s almost Latinesque in its use of guitars at times.

“Son of Daikaiju” is another fast-paced Daikaiju tune, but it’s still unique compared to other songs of similar pacing. For example, there’s an interesting guitar riff scattered throughout the song and cymbals come back into play here and never let up. “Incognito” has an interesting effect on its opening guitar. It’s kind of like “beatnik surf,” especially the drum use. This also has a “Latin” sound at times.

“Super X-9” has heavy, speedy opening that implies technology then launches into a surf beat. Said beat is very fast and powerful, just like the fictional flying superweapon that inspired its name (although the “real” Super-X only made it up to a third model). It slows down at times, but loses no sense of power and quickly speeds up, like a flying battleship performing a complicated maneuver that leads up to its big, fast-paced finish.

“Farewell to Monster Island” is the final and longest track of the album. The soft, slow opening has a definite melancholy feel to it. This is followed up by a cool, “tropical” riff and the drum beats and guitar that follow convey the feel of floating away on a long, slow boat trip. Although the majority of the song evokes someone feeling sad to leave (or sad that its the last song), there are occasional upbeat parts (as if remembering one can always return to Monster Island/replay the CD). This is tied with the first track as my all-time favorite Daikaiju song.

If you’re a fan of surf music and/or Japanese monster movies, you definitely owe it to yourself to check out Daikaiju’s work. Speaking of which, they’ve recently released a download-only single called “Flight of Garuda” (also the name of their previous tour) and are (as of this writing) in the middle of their “Double Fist Attack Tour!”

Special thanks to Daikaiju for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Witches in Bikinis

Witches in Bikinis

Official Site

Witches in Bikinis, Second Wind Productions 2005
A Scary Kind of Love, Second Wind Productions 2008
All Hallows Eve, Second Wind Productions 2009
Special Edition Sampler CD, Second Wind Productions 2009

Taking their name from the first song they ever recorded, Witches in Bikinis burst onto the scene in 2005 with their songs that mix serious and silly. The combination of bikini-clad female singers/dancers in colored wigs and a trio of musicians makes for a unique musical experience, be it listening to one of their CDs or catching a live performance. Why the bikinis? Well, besides surf music being one of their influences (along with rock and pop music), let’s look at this quote by Michael Dale (from a review of the group) that sums it up quite nicely:

“Combining three beloved staples of 60’s pop culture – the girl group, the beach party movie and the low-budget horror flick – ‘Witches in Bikinis’ perform catchy and funny original songs, with arrangements heavy on the goofy rock/gothic sound.”

For this entry, I’ll be reviewing the previously mentioned discs in a somewhat order different than what I have written above. I’m doing this in order to recreate my original listening order and because the samplers foreshadow several things about WiB’s full albums (as effortlessly switch from one musical genre to another).

The sampler All Hallows Eve contains a single song of thec same name. It begins with a slow fade-in to spooky sound effects, which are soon joined by a mournful piano (probably a keyboard set to sound like a piano). A creepy knocking-type sound is added, which eventually becomes part of an almost techno-like beat when the music gets more dance-like. After the refrain, wherein “All Hallows Eve” is said, a lone witch describes a tale of seeing a ghostly parade one Halloween night. This is the perfect song to start off a Halloween party, as it’s creepy and you can dance to it.

Let’s move on to the Special Edition Sampler CD, which demonstrates that most WiB either have only one witch singing or have a witch backed up by the other members. “Kissy Kissy Love Spell” is an example of the latter, which features a rousing opening. It’s very catchy, although the fun is kinda diminished when you realize that the song is someone openly flaunting their plan to use magical equivalent of roofies on someone. Despite the name, “Freak Show Safari” has nothing to do with sideshows. Instead, it focuses on people who choose to modify their bodies and dress outside the norm. It has a heavier feel to it than “Kissy Kissy Love Spell” and the lone singer’s intensity gives it a vaguely punk feel. The band’s surf influence is on full display in “Alien Surfer Babes,” from the “Wipe Out” style intro to its other classic surf touches (You’ll know what I mean when you hear it). The witches providing back-up are used to great effect, especially when providing the “oooo” sounds emphasizing the song’s sci-fi nature. The final two songs on the disc, “Vegan Lover” and “Movie Star,” prove that Witches in Bikinis aren’t limited to scary stuff and can do material about being in love (this will come up again later).

Something that particularly strikes me about their debut album, Witches in Bikinis, is the heavy use of a keyboard. This is merely an observation and not a slam at its use, as its sound is changed from song to song. Sometimes it sounds like what you would expect a keyboard to sound like and at other times it sounds just like a real piano or organ. In contrast, the use of the guitar is rather subdued and often subtly mixed in with the drums.

The first song, “Hold Me, My Little Ghostie,” makes great use of a comical faux Russian accent (and faux Russian music). The cutesy horror-themed references to kissing and cuddling are bound to be adopted by many who listen to the song and are undoubtedly inspired by the amorous female rabbit in Bugs Bunny’s Rabbit Romeo. “Horror Flick Chicks” humorously pokes fun at the poor decision-making skills of many women in horror movies by detailing several movie-style scenarios where female characters’ actions get them killed. There’s even a segment where, after a scenario is given, the singer quizzes on the listener as to what the character did. Several life-saving course of action are given, but the question as to whether or not she did those is always “No.” It is only when the bad course of action is given that the answer “Yes” is given and the song returns to normal.

“Witches in Bikinis” is the song that started it all. The serious-sounding tale of being lost in the woods and seeing something strange suddenly turning lighthearted and silly sets the the tone for many a WiB song after this. “Spooks On the Loose” takes its name from a combination of two “East Side Kids” film titles, Ghosts on the Loose and Spooks Run Wild (which some sources claim was also shown as Spooks on the Loose in some areas). Despite what the title might make you think, the “spooks” of the song are actually a metaphor for the creeps and perverts harassing the song’s protagonist.

“Haunted Mansion” tells the musical tale of a haunted house’s history (and many victims). “Goblin Gaboom” is a very cute song about a little girl trying to deal with the various monsters she sees in her bedroom. Her methods range from threats to outright denial they exist, each time answered by the deep-voiced Goblin Gaboom. The singer does an adorable little kid voice although hearing that voice come out of an attractive women in a bikini must make for an odd experience at the live shows. “Cemetery Boogie” is an insanely catchy (like many WiB songs) boogie woogie song about what the dead do after dark. Following this (of course) is “Monster Woogie.” Said song is loaded with sound effects, from the use of “castle thunder” at the beginning to the effects overload towards the end. Like many a WiB song, it’s serious at first (being home alone and hearing strange things) then the goofy stuff starts in. As soon as I heard the term “gramophone,” I know it was going to get old school and the song did not disappoint. The song was very 40’s style, right down to the Betty Boop-esque scat singing.

“Subway Spooks” is a mostly serious tale of underground ghouls that bring to mind C.H.U.D. and It. There are, howerever, a few humorous touches. “Zombie March,” which involves a witch preparing a group of zombies for a flesh-eating rampage, is similar in tone, only with less humor content. Abandoning humor altogether, “Cave Fire” is a very spooky instrumental number in the vein of the Midnight Syndicate. It’s perfect for any home haunt or to use to creep out trick-or-treaters. Similarly, “Graveyard Tango” is an instrumental piece, although it’s more humorous due to its tango sound. There is also a hidden surprise after “Graveyard Tango” ends: After a long wait (and on some players, the track time going in reverse) you can hear a reading of the “All Hallows Eve” done in the style of “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

In sharp contrast to the first album, A Scary Kind of Love cranks up the guitar and lessens the keyboard use. It also allows the Witches to show their surf influences. Despite the name, “Mermaids in Outer Space” is not a surf song (although there is an “Alien Surfer Babes” shout-out). Instead, this tale of mermaids leaving the Earth is rather new wavey. “Dear Dr. Frankenstein” is a hilarious twist on the old “dead teenager song” genre, with the resourceful girlfriend of a dead drag racer seeking out the good doctor. “Video Vixen Vampire” is a rocking tribute to/parody of Elvira, wherein a vampiric horror hostess called “Vira” uses her fame and looks to lure unsuspecting into her clutches.

Although not an exotica song, “Calling King Kong” does share the genre’s focus on pagan passion. The singer states that although she generally prefers a man who his charming and witty, sometimes she yearns for something more primal. She doesn’t want the actual King Kong, it’s just a metaphor for the wild lovin’ she wants from her man. “O.O.B.E” stands for “out of body experience” and the song has a suitable otherworldly feel to reflect the singer’s recollection of her astral adventure.
“Jennifer of the Jungle” is a non-spooky song about a young woman’s secret yearning to escape from the pressures of modern society. “Party Like a Chimpanzee” is a fun surf song about carefree partying like, well, a chimpanzee (minus the poo-flinging). “A Scary Kind of Love” is about woman’s relationship with her creepy (in a good way) boyfriend. Although her friends want her to break up with the guy, who she met at a graveyard, she’s only scared by how serious the relationship is getting rather than by his unusual interests.

“W.I.B. Reprise” is a quick, less than a minute reprise of the refrain from the song “Witches in Bikinis.” However, the minor changes in the song’s notes and slightly altered lyrics (now it’s “We are..” rather than “They were…”) make it clear that this is not a lazy cut and paste from the first album. This album’s version of “All Hallows Eve” is somewhat shorter than the sampler CD version, which seems to be missing part of that version’s long intro and outro. “Witches Theme” is the first of two closing instrumental tracks (echoing the first album) that mixes spooky and silly. Finally, the album closes with an excellent surf instrumental surf entitled “Rhumbazoid.”

So whether it’s a spooky beach shindig or a Halloween party, make sure to include Witches in Bikinis as part of your playlist!

Special thanks to Witches in Bikinis for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: Strange But Surf

Strange But Surf
Official Site
Swimming in Reverb, Rancho Records 2007

Surf can be a strange genre at times. It can both exist independently and be connected to Tiki culture. Despite the name “surf,” a surf song can have little or nothing to do with surfing (something that will be made very obvious over the course of the Freaky Tiki Surf-ari). What makes surf music “surf” is its distinct “wet” sound. Said sound is made by the spring reverberator in amplifiers for electric guitars, which can sound like waves. Hence the title of Strange But Surf’s second album, Swimming in Reverb. Interestingly enough, the CD’s cover shows the band in front of a Tiki bar called Otto’s Shrunken Head. This is the essence of Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: the mixture of Tiki, surf music and horror.

According to their Facebook page, Strange But Surf came into existence in 2003. That page also has a great quote from the band themselves: “More than just Surf, we combine Blues, Oldies, Rockabilly and more into our own genre of music, known as Strange But Surf.” Their online radio station also lists “Spy, Space, Horror, Tiki, and Lounge” as sources of inspiration. Although Swimming in Reverb is largely a surf album, some of these influences are present.

The album kicks off with “Secret Sea” by “Unknown.” Is it a cover of a song whose creator’s name is lost to the ages? Is it an original creation by a cheeky band member – after all, who’s better to write a secret song than an anonymous person? I can’t say for sure. All I do know is that I like it and that it is easily identifiable as surf to even a neophyte of the genre. Like the song before it, “Lobster Rock” is a snazzy instrumental track. Unlike the song before it, its author is known: SBS guitar player and drummer Barry Simon. “Hey Ho!” is by band founder Angelo “Marbles Mahoney” Liguori (also a drummer and guitar player). The limited vocals are a nice touch and sound authentically old school. If not for the brief references to the Ramones, this could easily pass for a 60’s classic.

“Baja” is a cover version of Lee Hazlewood’s musical sojourn to the Mexican peninsula of the same name. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I tend to bust out the fancy talk when I like a song but am unable to provide more than a sentence or two about it. I figure that it’s better to have a short, nice-sounding sentence than just saying I like it. This isn’t an issue with Angelo Liguori’s “The Martians are Pissed.” Appropriately starting off with a guitar imitating a theremin (and later mixing in metallic flying saucer noises), the band launches into a fast-paced surf song, pausing only for the singer’s brief asides about the angry Martians. Some might find this annoying, but I think it fits in with the song’s humorous tone and lyrics like “Orson Welles was right.”

“Down to the Water” slows things down with somewhat exotica-like surf piece by Strange But Surf guitarist Tom Vidal. It’s very relaxing and allows the listener to imagine they’re by the shoreline at the end of the day. Revving things back up is Angelo Liguori’s “Psycho DeMayo.” Although the name has a horror connection, the song itself doesn’t sound spooky. Energetic yes, creepy no. Then we get an amazing cover of the surf classic “California Sun” by Henry Glover and Morris Levy (as made famous by the Rivieras). Unlike the cringe worthy covers you might find on a bargain bin compilation CD, where the musicians seem to be trying to punish you for being too cheap to buy the original, this is a worthy successor to the Rivieras’ version. While sounding similar enough to the version we all know and love, there are enough differences to keep anyone from mistaking it for the real thing. Next comes an interesting surf cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Working in a Coal Mine” and the album closes with a cover of “Lone Rider” by the Supertones. Having never heard the originals, I can’t say how the covers stack up to them. Speaking of “lone riders,” I noticed that bassist Vincent Giovannantonio is the odd man out song-wise. I wonder if he is “Unknown”…

Due to its mix of content, Swimming in Reverb is a great way to ease in a traditional surf fan into the realm of spooky (or vice-versa). You won’t find it in most retailers due to it being published on CD-R, but you can easily order it directly from the band. If the use of recordable media irks you, then you might be pleased to know that Strange But Surf went the extra mile and used a type of disc designed to look like a miniature vinyl record rather than an unlabeled CD-R with the album name written on with a marker. In fact, I think it adds to the authentic 60’s feel of the album!

Special thanks to Strange But Surf for the review copy!

Freaky Tiki Surf-ari: The Sound of Tiki

It all started when Strange Jason sent me a link to “Gateways to Geekery” article about exotica music from the Onion AV Club. Not only was it a great, highly informative read (although the author is laughably wrong about the quality of modern exotica groups), but it made me realize the connections between exotica/Tiki culture and horror.

My realization of this was sparked by noticing how menacing the idols depicted on the cover for Les Baxter’s Ritual of the Savage looked. This got me to think of how masks play a big role in both fandoms and inspired me to do further research into the matter. I soon realized that exotica was not necessarily all tropical flowers and sunshine. There is a darker aspect focusing on the forbidden and taboo. There’s the shrunken heads of Arthur Lyman’s Taboo II, Robert Drasnin’s Voodoo series and songs (and album covers) involve frenzied pagan rites, weird cries in the night or strange stone gods on forbidden islands. Is the intended goal of bringing customers into an artificial environment filled with spooky sounds sought by the designers of haunted attractions really all that far off from the goals of those who make Tiki bars and put the animal calls in many an exotica song? And let’s not forget the popularity of “zombies” in both Tiki and horror cultures…

Some of you are bound to be asking yourselves questions like “What exactly is exotica,” “what is ‘tiki culture,'” and “how does the surf music fit in?”

It’s tempting to take the easy way out by linking to some very informative websites on the matter and then move on to the next review. Instead I’ll explain things by reviewing a CD/booklet combo by the renowned Tiki authority, Sven A. Kirsten.

The term “Tiki” refers to Polynesian carvings of roughly human shape (be they stone or wood, mask or figurine). As noted here, Reeds’ Concise Maori Dictionary even defines it as a “grotesque carved figure of a man.” Although I could use the “grotesque” definition to further the Tiki/horror connection, I won’t because I disagree with it. Tiki art is rather “off beat,” but is rarely what I’d consider “grotesque.” That said, I so see how the the idols depicted on the cover of “Ritual of the Savage” could meet that definition. Unsurprisingly, the source where I learned of that particular definition also chose to drop the grotesque part and used the definition “human-like images not only from Polynesia but from other Oceanic areas.”

The original symbols were often references to the legendary first man of the Māori (and other cultures’) creation myth, Tiki. However, some claim that Tikis act as identifying “flags” of sorts. Although these figures were brought overseas as souvenirs during the 19th century, they did not become truly popular until the 30’s-40’s. A variety of factors contributed to this. Donn Beach started the first “Don The Beachcomber” restaurant/bar in 1934, which gained fame (and other locations) due to its tropical drinks and Polynesian decor (including Tiki figures). Although some of the figures in the early establishments might have been authentic imports, most of the Tikis used were made in America. Its popularity spawned numerous other restaurants with similar food, drinks and decorations. The best known one is Trader Vic’s, which originally started under the name “Hinky Dinks.” Even before adopting the Tiki theme, the walls of Hinky Dinks were covered in unusual decorations in order to spark customer conversations due to owner Victor Bergeron’s belief that “lots of decoration causes lots of conversation, and lots of conversation sells lots of drinks.” A Caribbean vacation is credited as planting the initial seed of the tropical theme change, with visits to restaurants already using that theme sealing the deal. “Hinky Dinks” was renamed “Trader Vic’s” to fit in with the new style, the name inspired by the owner’s constant trading. “Don” and “Vic” both churned out innovations that have since become staples of Tiki bars worldwide such as Mai Tais, Tiki mugs, Zombies and the like.

The popularity of Tiki culture was furthered by those returning from the South Seas after being stationed there in World War II. They longed for the exotic sights and cuisine that had originally distracted them from the horrors of war. One returning naval lieutenant, James Michener, wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book Tales of the South Pacific based on his experiences in 1948. This popular novel was adapted into the even more popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific (which also won a Pulitzer). The Kon-Tiki expedition and Hawaii’s statehood also fueled people’s passion for all things tropical. Tiki bars sprung up all over the country and music was needed for them. Surf music was a good fit, but there was something even better suited. A genre that gained its named from a now-classic Martin Denny album: Exotica. Exotica music is designed to help the listener imagine they are in some faraway land, with animal cries and the use of “exotic” instruments such as güiros and chimes. As with all things that become a nationwide craze, Tiki culture eventually died down. It wasn’t until the 90’s that Tiki culture started to make a comeback. Aiding in the modern day revival were the excellent books on the subject by Tiki historian/expert Sven A. Kirsten.

All of the above (and more) can be found in the 49 page booklet attached to the digipak holding the Sound of Tiki CD. The CD was originally planned as a bonus CD to be included in Kirsten’s The Book of Tiki, but the idea had to be dropped in order to keep the price reasonable. And just like the book that spawned it, you’d better believe that the CD’s booklet is chock-full of color pictures (be warned that some of the images contain nudity). There’s also a handy map of the “islands” surrounding the inlet of exotica music: surf, hapa haole and lounge.

Rather than just act as a condensed version of his two prior books, the booklet is actually set up in a way that (after a few introductory pages on the subject of Tiki and exotica) the notes for each track of CD give information both about the song and how it ties in with Tiki culture. I was particularly surprised to learn that in the unofficial competition to use the most obscure instruments among the world of exotica musicians, one album boasted of using an instrument said to be made from human bones! As for the tracks themselves, the CD’s selection of rarities and classics is enough to satisfy the hardcore Tiki fan while still being accessible enough to act as an introductory sampler for beginners.

The first track, Arthur Lyman’s “Taboo Tu,” actually has a horror connection, despite the pleasant tone. Kirsten notes that while hapa haole songs tended to be about romance, exotica focused on the mysterious and taboo. He even comments about horror imagery and primitive cults!

Next comes a song from another master of exotica, Martin Denny. Not only is “Aku Aku” a delightful song, but its page in the booklet explains how the name ties in with many Tiki establishments and explains how Moai (aka Easter Island heads) got mixed into Tiki culture. Gloria Lynne’s performance of “Bali Ha’i” is not only included since it came from the play South Pacific, but also because it showcases the idea of a friendly and welcoming exotic isle of delights that is so popular in exotica music/Tiki culture. Oddly enough, the introduction to the song sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie!

Speaking of movies, it’s amazing to think how a soothing song like Les Baxter’s “Bird Of Paradise” could come from a man who’s scored several horror movies. Paul Page’s use of a steel guitar for “Castaway” will make many modern listeners think “SpongeBob SquarePants.” This is no mere coincidence, as the show is influenced by surf, Hawaiian and Tiki cultures. After all, Spongebob lives in a pineapple, Squidward dwells in a Tiki-style house and the music can speak for itself. The use of seagull cries also adds to the exotica effect of the song.

Martin Denny returns and teams up with Si Zentner to play “Tiki,” whose authoritative start and playful vibraphone notes reflect the status and mischievous nature of the legendary first man. Although the establishment described in Andy Williams’ “House Of Bamboo” is most likely not a Tiki bar, the lyrics do accurately describe the heavy use of bamboo in such bars. Besides, if this thin connection is good enough to include this great song on an exotica compilation, then it means I’m not too off-base for reviewing this for a horror site!

The Shadows’ “Kon-Tiki” is an exotica-tinged surf piece whose beat conjures up images of Thor Heyerdahl’s raft bobbing gently in the waves on its long journey. Marais and Miranda’s “I-Ha-She” is a musical tale of a native maiden rejecting the unwanted advances of her village’s ruler, which sounds like an excerpt from a long-lost Rankin Bass “Animagic” special set in the south seas. I especially liked the clever way they worked the chorus of men calling I-Ha-She’s name into the context of the story.

Next comes Buddy Morrow’s “Hawaiian Eye,” the theme song to the TV show of the same name. The accompanying notes detail the influence of Tiki culture on the show (as evidenced by the heavy use of animal calls in the opening) and vice versa. The Mary Kaye Trio’s “Hilo Boy” is a very corny song about a boy leaving his village in order to search the world for a bride (GUESS WHERE HE FINDS HER), but it does give Mr. Kirsten the opportunity to show their contribution to the birth of lounge music. Despite the band name, The Surfers’ “Ulili E” is not a surf song. Instead, it’s a traditional Hawaiian folk song (although not played in a way that one would associate with stereotypical folk songs).

Paul Page brings us more steel guitar goodness with “Pieces Of Eight,” a song from an album he sold at select Polynesian-themed restaurants. You see, he name each song on the album after a restaurant he had an agreement with and sold the record under a different title at each location. Naturally, the album was called “Pieces Of Eight” when it was sold at the establishment under that name. Despite the name, Eden Ahbez’s “Full Moon” has no horror ties. Instead it’s a hippie/hermit-style exotica, complete with croaking frogs. The Surfman’s performance of “Bamboo” is marred by the hilariously awful fake bird calls that sound like someone puking (which is one of the main reasons it was included on the CD). Next comes a Don Ho twofer, wherein he adds lyrics to the theme from Hawaii 5-0 and “Quiet Village.” The final track is a series of “Luau Is Calling You” radio jingles for a Polynesian restaurant.

It may seem odd to review a CD with little to no horror-related content on this website, but it makes perfect sense to me. After all, we can’t have shadows without light. For example, Tiki masks come in a wide variety of designs. While a regular mask may or may not be interpreted as being scary, tiki masks like this leave no doubt as to the scare factor (but can also obscure what your average Tiki is really like). Also, many of the songs on the CD are also referenced in other albums that will be covered in future Freaky Tiki Surf-ari updates! Stay tuned!

Special thanks to Bear Family Records for the review copy!