Surf Zombies: Something Weird

Local Albums: April 2010 – Being of a certain age, and having been a kid in 1960s California, surf music is totemic to me. From listening to my uncle’s Beach Boys records on a blonde-tolex-covered suitcase record player, to hearing “Wipeout” played by every garage band on my walk home from Booksin Elementary in San Jose, surf music is a part of me, like the sand that stays in your Chuck Taylors after a trip to the beach, no matter how much you shake them out. Listening to Surf Zombies brings it all back.

It helps that this is simple, elemental rock ‘n’ roll, from back when you plugged your Fender guitar directly into your Fender amplifier, and only the singer got a microphone. Simplicity and adherence to the conventions of the genre can either produce monotony or brilliant economy of means. “Something Weird” manages to stay fresh, song to song, without any pretense to innovation. The title track is a case in point, veering between loud and soft passages anchored around on a minor chord progression and tasty finger-picked rhythm guitar. The guitar solo in the last 40 seconds of the song is nearly perfect, starting with a low buzz, turning into atonal harmonics before morphing into perfectly whammy-bar bent wails.

Some of the tracks, like “Don’t Let The Admiral Out” are more reminiscent of those awful Annette Funicello movies–you know, the ones where Buddy Hacket runs the Surf Shack and Stevie Wonder shows up out of nowhere to play harmonica?–but I’m willing to forgive them the occasional lapse into corny whimsy as long as they return to their core competencies. “Candy Cigarettes,” for instance is a sweet little detour into what sounds like French Nouvelle Vague soundtrack music. On “Alien Eyes,” the Zombies retool the soaring Fender melodicism of the Tornado’s “Telstar” and make it their own. These guys played their first gig opening for the king of surf guitar, Dick Dale, and they throw in the occasional Dale-esque arabesque burner. But what makes these guys great is that they’re keeping the faith without repeating the same damn prayers.

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.