The Men from…BEYOND!
My first exposure to the L.A. punk scene was through the soundtrack to the 1984 movie Repo Man. This scene would be documented much more extensively in the movie The Decline of Western Civilization, but there is some overlap. I watched Repo Man when it aired sometime in the 80’s on late night USA Network when I was in my early teens and it opened a whole world up to me–junk culture, beer swilling angry punks and aliens. The soundtrack has the amazing Iggy Pop theme song and bands like The Plugz, Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Fear and Suicidal Tendencies.
I mention this because as I listen to the latest album from Iowa City band The Men from … BEYOND I am overcome with flashbacks to that soundtrack. The very DIY esthetic that moved all of those angry punks to record those albums represented in those soundtracks exists on The Men’s new album Surf Solaris. The claustrophobic headspace created by haphazard microphone placement, the slight disregard of tuning, the cheap effects pedals make it sound like it was recorded in a basement riding the very curl of the crashing wave of inspiration.
The Men from … BEYOND! would generally be pigeonholed as ‘surf instrumental,’ but their sound leans towards classic punk, but with surfy arpeggio guitar lines and whammy bar bends. The Men from … BEYOND! sound more like Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (whose “Having An Average Weekend” was the theme music to Kids in the Hall) or Man or Astroman? than the Ventures or Dick Dale. The few songs that do have vocals as on “Shelly Shelly Shimmy,” “Hit That Shit” and “Magick Potion” serve the purpose of giving the band something to yell.
Much as the sorry souls who encountered the ‘64 Chevy Malibu with the dead aliens in the trunk in Repo Man met their untimely demise, the radioactive effect of the The Men from … BEYOND! on Surf Solaris will either destroy you or make you stronger … and glow.