Acme Brothers Records
Maybe you’ve heard the possibly false tale of how Surf Music was invented: someone bet Dick Dale he couldn’t play a song using just one string on his guitar. He won the bet, and the rest has been a bikini-clad vacation on the beach for all of us. Susan Surftone grew up in the relatively sand-free region of America called Upstate New York, but picked up a guitar and learned the style — after all, it’s not about vitamin D as much as it is about practice, practice, practice. Susan’s been around a while; I count at least four albums with her old backing band The SurfTones on Amazon. Her sound feels calm and practiced and backing her is a cheap Doors synth and a smallish drum kit. Hand claps are precise and there’s a sense she’s out to hit each note perfectly and right on time. Of course, vocals washed out with the last tide and we never hear her sing, but she’s a wiz at composing the one-word titles that minimalist surf sound demands.
“Shore” occasionally steps into the shadow of Jim Morrison’s ghost, “Jade” might have been an off cut from a Ventures session, and “Tide” leans toward a super spy theme song. Appropriate enough, her bio emphasizes her career in the FBI, and while they imply she was skulking around Red Square with a mini camera, she may have just had the thankless job of reading Soviet newspapers. It’s not all bullets and blondes, or so I’ve heard. The big cut here is a 7-minute cover of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” peppered with bits and pieces of “Pipeline” washing up on the beach. It’s strict and perfectionist, but not enough to get you up for a slow dance. Susan Surftone plays technically proficient surf music, but it lacks the fire and excitement that other modern surf bands put on stage.
Susan Surftone: www.susansurftone.com