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I'm Hunter King and I DJ Storm Surge of Reverb a.k.a. the surf show. Over the next few weeks I'll be rounding up my favorite surf records and posting them on the Storm Surge of Reverb website, but if I didn't listen to anything else I'd go insane. I wouldn't pretend that I've kept tabs on a lot of the big records this year, but I've found a bunch that I think others would like.

Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel

Somehow I didn’t even realize that Lightning Bolt were active past their first 3 albums. Well, they still sound like a wild chainsaw, and flash guitar sounds you’ve never heard past your ears at a vigorous clip -- this time even featuring moments of melody! When I say Lightning Bolt is 25 years old, it feels like I’m taking about the members not the band.


The Stargazer Lilies - Occabot

Now that scientists have fully reverse-engineered the My Bloody Valentine sound, there are tons of bands out there sounding like very close facsimiles. Stargazer Lilies are one of them, but they don’t merely set it to autopilot. They revel in it, take moments to solo, they sound menacing when they crunch and sweet when they crumble. And most importantly, there are songs that you’ll remember after a listen or two. Fun fact: the title is Tobacco backwards, I guess since Tobacco produced the album.


L’Epee - Diabolique

Swirling psychedelia via Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe lifted up with the ye-ye-styled vocals of Emmanuelle Seigner. Turns out psych doesn’t have to be so serious, and the contrast of dense noise and light-hearted songs about aliens is refreshing.


Vanishing Twin - Age of Immunology

Vanishing Twin’s vocalist should immediately capture the attention of a Stereolab fan, particularly alongside the lush psychedelic sounds, but the soundtrack quality of this album might point you towards Broadcast as well.


Rev Rev Rev - Kykeon

Rev Rev Rev’s 2016 release is some extremely competent MBV worship with all of the swirling and pitch-bending you could ask for. Their follow-up is surprisingly more simple: somewhat buzzier and MUCH slower, lulling you into swirling shoegaze hypnotism. It’s got a helping of evil to it, reminding me of Pain Teens at times. By the way, kykeon was an ancient Greek drink.


Room Thirteen - Daytona Beach View

I have a more extended review on their bandcamp page, but Room Thirteen's kitchen sink exotica pop goes to new locales (and times!) in their second album. There's so much to take in, and the intricacy of that expert crafting is reassuring that they'll continue to make great music.



I’d been right on the edge of buying into this brand of happy, punk-styled shoegaze that Westkust have been putting out, and I think this is the album where they finally hit the tipping point. It’s catchy, sunny, and playfully twists shoegaze tropes to good effect.


Control Top - Covert Contracts

Aggressive punk with post-punk leaning guitars and a great riot grrl styled vocalist. Had my knee bouncing the whole way through on first listen, and filled in for the disappointment left by the new Sleater-Kinney.


Blato Zlato - In the Wake

Full disclosure, my wife is in this band. And as a result, I’ve heard these songs ad nauseum, seen audiences on the other side of the world respond to them, and have all sorts of extra thoughts and circumstances surrounding these songs. And I still think they’re great. Whereas their first album was full of otherworldly arrangements of traditional eastern European songs, In the Wake is where Blato Zlato truly explores their sound by creating new classics echoing with their haunt while still covered in old-world dirt. They’re great at crafting environments with their music, and this album is full of shadow, mystery, menace, light and warmth.


Death and Vanilla - Wallpaper Pattern

Hypnotic dream pop stays subdued but has more hooks than they should be allowed. This charming record is a treat from moment to moment.


Andrew Wasylyk - The Paralian

My pick for coziest album of the year. Ambient instrumentals that delightfully meander, rarely finding their way to melodic crescendo, but possessing a mood with a tight grip.


Green Milk From the Planet Orange - THIRD

GMFTPO remain one of my favorite live performances, and their long-form, high-energy, high-momentum jams really left a mark on me. At some point after they broke up, I started following their guitarist on twitter. I scarcely made out enough Japanese to learn that they reformed, and over time saw that they were playing shows, and eventually I was lucky enough to catch a tweet with this album. They haven’t lost a step -- just as powerful once they reach full speed, just as tiring thinking about the drummer.


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - Ancestral Recall

While I’ve heard a lot of music in these past few years that pulls jazz into new 21st century directions, Christian Scott sounds like the 22nd century. His sparse, eerie flutters and tribal drumming are saying something completely alien to what I’m used to hearing. It’s strange how he still seems to fly under the radar in his hometown of New Orleans while he keeps making year-end lists elsewhere.


Don Cavalli - Banjara

Cryland was one of those records that makes you thankful for being a radio DJ. Its strange wah-wah folk-blues likely would have never found its way into my sphere of relevance in any other setting. Its follow-up Tempermental was kind of an over-reach, morphing that sound into a genre mish-mash that never established an identity. Banjara is Don Cavalli dialing it way back to before Cryland when he was doing excellent Charlie Feathers’ styled rockabilly, and he nails it with 6 country-blues songs that are instant classics.


Brutus - NEST

Sometimes you forget how plainly enjoyable it is to hear somebody screaming their lungs out, especially when it feels as genuine as it does here. Brutus’ vocalist is fantastic, and though the instrumentals have a mix of post/metal/emo/core that I’ve mostly left alone for 15 years, it’s exactly the sound that I would go nuts for then, and they service the vocals very well.


Th’ Losing Streaks - This Band Will Self Destruct in T-Minus

This record was frustratingly released in December 2018 after I had made my list and feared that late additions might be swayed by recency bias. It would be criminal not to mention it. 14 years after their 2004 debut, we get a garage record with all the energy of the 90s and devoid of today’s punk-styled apathy. Fantastic guitar work, vocals that never hold back, and stirring build-ups. I almost forgot garage records could be this good.


The Get Up Kids - Problems

I’m fairly sure I lost a few points with our music director when I left a positive review on this one, but despite catching some of the mud when the word “emo” is slung around, TGUKs are mostly just a solid power pop group. Problems is usually mentioned alongside “comeback” or “return to form”, and sure enough it shows all the melodic chops that made Something to Write Home About a classic amidst its scene 20 years ago. Don’t be embarrassed, it doesn’t do anything embarrassing. It’s a fun, exuberant record full of memorable songs, though the mastering is awful.


Les Grys-Grys - Les Grys-Grys

Pitch-perfect 60’s-styled pop-psych with a great balance exciting songwriting, rock & roll edge, and psychedelic intrigue. It’s a wide open and sunny record with a great energy.


Cave In - Final Transmission

Cave In’s Jupiter is an immensely important record to me. The band’s swan song is bittersweet: a return to that sound but never reaching the same high points, which may be chalked up to the unfortunate death of their bassist. This album isn’t amazing, and there will never be another Jupiter, but I’m thankful that I got something close.


Monster Rally - Adventures on the Floating Island

I’ve long felt that the kitsch of exotica has remained unmined outside of tiki culture. Way back in 2011 I heard Monster Rally’s “Coral” LP and was delighted to find somebody that “got” it, but I also found that it rarely built upon these sounds, merely amounting to looped samples. Admittedly, I haven’t kept up since then, so this reacquaintance at LP #9 was a satisfying discovery of a much more developed sound. Monster Rally’s mixture of nostalgic sounds has broadened, but also gotten much more nuanced and naturally layered. While the general feeling of the album is unsurprisingly wistful and playful, he’s really learned how to craft and support these moods from his samples, rather than leaning on the original content. It’s a sweet record that can brighten up your day and lead to a few weird dances alone in your house.


Ecstatic Vision - For the Masses

This band has made several appearances in my year end lists, and if I’m honest with each record their sound becomes less distinct, more formless. But that loud tumbling wash of psychedelic noise, like motorhead played on top of itself 3 times with one layer playing backwards, is still intoxicating and gets your blood pumping.


Fennesz - Agora

Fuzzy ambient music that just wraps your head up in a blanket. It can be dramatic and cozy, often at the same time. 

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