Dick Dale (Guitar Legend)

Dick Dale (Guitar Legend)

Dick Dale wasn't nicknamed "King of the Surf Guitar" for nothing: he pretty much invented the style single-handedly, and no matter who copied or expanded upon his blueprint, he remained the fieriest, most technically gifted musician the genre ever produced. Dale's pioneering use of Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies (learned organically through his familial heritage) was among the first in any genre of American popular music, and predated the teaching of such "exotic" scales in guitar-shredder academies by two decades. The breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique was unrivalled until it entered the repertoires of metal virtuosos like Eddie Van Halen, and his wild showmanship made an enormous impression on the young Jimi Hendrix. But those aren't the only reasons Dale was once called the father of heavy metal. Working closely with the Fender company, Dale continually pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing the thick, clearly defined tones he heard in his head, at the previously undreamed-of volumes he demanded. He also pioneered the use of portable reverb effects, creating a signature sonic texture for surf instrumentals. And, if all that weren't enough, Dale managed to redefine his instrument while essentially playing it upside-down and backwards -- he switched sides in order to play left-handed, but without re-stringing it (as Hendrix later did).

Great White Caps

It seems that Surf Rock has resurfaced every decade or so since dominating the music scene in the 1960's. The genre's latest spike in popularity does not come from the sunny beaches of Southern California. This time around the coolest Surf Rock band is spearheaded by four guys from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Montag the Magnificent (Guitar, Vocals, Wardrobe), Johnny Utah (Drums, Rookie Cop), Sylvester Seaweed (Bass, Ninja) and Warchild (Guitar, The New Guy) came together in 2009 to form Great White Caps. From the unkempt hair, to the bright beach gear they wear on stage, Great White Caps embody the vibe of Surf Rock in body and spirit.
Each member's individual love for the ocean - they all boogie board or surf - and rock music brought them together. Though none of the guys were actually old enough to witness the great Surf Rock bands of the 60's, GWC loves the carefree nature that existed back then. Instead of settling into the role of the same old boring retreads, they took sounds from 60s music, visual cues from 80s beach wear and the attitude, volume, and energy of early Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Another great inspiration is the 1991 Patrick Swayze cult surf film Point Break (they have a song named "50 Year Storm"). They love the flick but felt the score should have been soaked in reverb and thundering drums so, they created just that. The band often performs their version of the soundtrack to Point Break to enthusiastic crowds. Performing live is a love of GWC, so much so that they worked on all of the songs from their debut album for a year and a half before recording Sting of Death. The album—named after the 1965 "killer jellyfish" flick—sounds as if Surf Rock never left the mainstream. Staying true to the genre's roots, GWC mixes heavy instrumental tracks ("Dance of the Bioluminescent Plankton," "Sweet Teat Meat") with hilariously fun vocally driven songs ("Totally Pissed About These Shitty Waves") over 14 tracks. The album was released in June of 2011 on CD and digitally and will be available on vinyl later this year.
In these very serious times GWC does a great job bringing a good time to listeners, and they don't plan to stop anytime soon. "We just want to give people the soundtrack to all the best times in their lives," says Montag. "We plan on putting out many, many records and taking it as far as we can take it. It's kind of like surfing, you stand up on a wave and you ride it until it throws you off."

Celestial Shore

Celestial Shore have an obvious Beach Boys tip about them, but they twin it with a love of Math Rock - the twisting guitar and synth patterns snake around like a loose hose, drenching the song in a shimmering nostalgia. It takes the simplicity and innately classic sound of The Beach Boys harmonies and filters that through the clutter of the 21st century. It means it avoids being yet another yesteryear trip, and becomes something truly inventive. To paraphrase the great Jean Luc Godard, it's not who you steal from but where you take it.

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