Some shots from The Surfrajettes show last night in San Jose. Really great set with a little bit of a harder edge than last year’s show, perhaps to play better as the opener for Reverend Horton Heat.
After a series of singles and EPs, Toronto’s Surfrajettes released their first album this weekend. Roller Fink is a collection of originals and covers, tied loosely around the theme of a roller rink. A couple songs have atmospheric roller rink introductions, but otherwise it’s just straight surf rock. The cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is the new single and treads similar ground to the group’s breakthrough video covering Britney Spears’ “Toxic” (6.2m views and counting). The bright, plucky sound of “Heart of Glass” fits in well with 2021’s single “Couch Surfing” and the roller rink theme.
A few songs on the album have a harder edge, including the title track. But most impressive is the incredible raucous cover of “Train Kept a Rollin’. This fast version is reminiscent of The Yardbird’s infamous rendition from the movie Blowup, with Nicole Damoff’s lead guitar being just as impactful as Jeff Beck’s. The song fits in well with The Surfrajette’s 1960s sensibilities but displays a more confident approach to the material, musical virtuosity, and the surf genre. The song features a brief vocal interlude with the band members shouting one of the song’s memorable lines, “Looking so good I couldn’t let her go!” Be sure to check this track out.
When you’re drinking a Mai Tai, the stuff in the glass is the most important part. But the place where you drink the Mai Tai is also key. Do you want to hear loud hair metal while drinking a Mai Tai? No, you want relaxing exotic music that helps transport you to a different place or at least to forget the cares of the world. We call this music Exotica.
The most prominent Exotica band currently performing and putting out new music is the Tikiyaki Orchestra. The group was formed by Jim Bacchi and to date they’ve issued several well regarded albums with tracks that are frequently played in tiki bars worldwide and also in places like Adventureland at Disneyland. Tikiyaki plays live as a seven-piece group at several tiki-related events each year. In the last couple years, a four-person combo has been producing surf-oriented recordings and playing live under the moniker Tikiyaki 5-0.
The first Tikiyaki Orchestra album featured a song called “Mai Tais on the Mood” and is representative of the group’s signature sound. It’s a mix of classic exotic percussion, vibraphone, slack key, and surf guitar. This was actually the first song Bacchi recorded as Tikiyaki Orchestra.
Wait, there’s more!
As I was preparing this post, we learned there is new Tikiyaki music being made available as of today! In fact, it has only been recently conceived and recorded.
Sketches with Guitar and Bongos is being issued under the moniker “Tikiyaki minus orchestra” because it’s a stripped-down arrangement featuring percussion and guitars. The songs are right in line with previous Tikiyaki recordings in that they’ll fit in just fine at the tiki bar. This is great stuff and maybe the first positive thing to come out of the COVID-19 social shutdown.
Tonight we’ll raise a Mai Tai to Tikiyaki!