music comes alive with this two-CD release from the San
Francisco-based Aqua Velvets. Produced by surf radio icon
Phil Dirt, Radio Waves is a collection of live
material culled from KFJC and KPFA station recordings
from 1992-98, and includes an EP of four tracks from a
concert in 2001.
who has listened to the band's previous CDs, like Guitar
Noir or Nomad, knows that The Aqua Velvets can hang-ten,
musically speaking. But let's face it, surf guitar cover
bands are a dime a dozen ever since the Pulp Fiction
soundtrack came out. While The Aqua Velvets play perfectly
good covers of all the surf classics ("Diamond Head",
"Walk Don't Run", "Apache", and "Pipeline"),
what sets them apart from the other Dick Dale and Ventures
cover bands are their original songs, which are a fusion
of disparate influences.
Their original tracks, "Bravado", "Gringo",
and "Mexican Rooftop Afternoon", emulate the
moody spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone.
"Holly Tiki" and "Surfmania" are the
most surf-friendly numbers, while "Swampabilly Hop"
is pure Rockabilly. On "Martini Time" and "Green
Sunshine" they just let loose and have fun, mixing
up the tempos dramatically for expressive effect. Then
the band drifts into loungeville with mellow tunes, like
"Guitar Noir" and "Subterranea", which
sound like the haunting soundtrack for a hard-boiled surf/detective
movie waiting to be made.
with all the genre exploration, with 25 songs on two CDs,
The Aqua Velvets can get a bit monotonous. However, diehard
fans will be stoked to hear these live recordings, and
it's a good introduction to newbie grommets. As limiting
as the depth of these selections might be (due to being
recorded over a soundboard), they still have enough reverb
to shake a house down.