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Aqua Velvets

Release Date: 11.20.01
Record label: Milan/BMG
Genre(s): Rock

70 Music-Critic Score
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I'm Goin' Surfin'!
by: matt cibula


This collection is a steal: 96 minutes of instrumental surf-rock, and all of it excellent. These performances were taken mostly from four different radio shows; the first was in 1992, the last in 1998, and I'll be damned if I hear any difference between any of them. The Aqua Velvets know how to create drama and wonder without saying a single word, and they do it in high style. Their covers of "Walk Don't Run" and "Pipeline" are iconic on these radio shows, but their own original stuff, written by guitarist Miles Corbin, is wonderful too: "Swampabilly Hop" is beachabilly madness, laid-back and edgy at the same time, and I want "Gringo" playing the next time I walk into a small village with guns at my hips and a score to settle.


Corbin also has a sense of humor about the kind of music his band plays -- "Surf Nouveau" hints at a B-52s influence, and "Nervous on Neptune" has some fun with about six different riff rip-offs from Creedence. But this is mostly just about how good a band can sound together. The rhythm section of Michael Lindner and Donn Spindt is about as tight as it can be, Spencer Chan's organ lines are graceful and crucial, and the guitar interplay between Corbin and Hank Maninger recalls -- dare I say it? -- the Ventures. If that's as good as they'll ever get, then that's good enough for them.


There is a bonus disc here, with non-radio show stuff, recorded in May 2001. A lot of people are going to want this because of its cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" done surf-style, but to tell the truth it's kind of anemic. The real winner here is the seven-and-a-half-minute "Green Sunshine"; this epic spans psychedelia, alt.country, jangle pop, "classic rock," jam-band noodling, and (of course) surf music. It's a great way to cap off this great record.
21-Aug-2002 9:10 PM