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442eme RUE

The Californians of Insect Surfers are one of these bands which surprise you when you learn that they are still active due to their low-visibility especially in our latitudes. However, the group has been in existence for quite a while since 1979. Originally from Washington DC, the Insects Surfers changed band members in 1985 when guitarist David Arnson moved to Los Angeles. He is obviously the last original member of the group. Since 2012, the other pillar is the guitarist. Michael Abraham from the jazz scene, a highly rated background for any self-respecting musician. Incidentally, even if the name of the group evokes surf music, its main claim originally, today we must rather speak of instrumental rock as the group diversifies its style and explores various paths, which brings the band closer to The Shadows or Ventures which also, overtime, moved away from the surf music, not always for the best in their case, but that's another story.  More contemporary, the Finish of Laika and the Cosmonauts (1987-2008) equality endeavored to leave the hard rolls of surf music. The Insect Surfers are successful in not losing themselves even given their musical wandering past. And when they play "Datura moon" which is more than 8-minute long and could signal wariness (especially since the atmosphere is très Dire Straits), they nevertheless manage to continue captivating us without ever becoming boring, a most beautiful feat. It is now a staple signature in the past few years for the Insect Surfers to develop their themes on a timing farther and farther removed from the standard 2 minutes of the great surf music classics. Titles less than 3 minutes are a minority in their discography, daring with steadfastness many titles that are more than 4-minute long, which allows them to build their songs without sacrificing to their primal energy. Widely invested in the preservation of marine life, Insect Surfers focus on aquatic themes in "Flying fish offramp "," Fjord hornet ", and " Iceberg lantern "; the guitars often sounding as though to evoke the liquid element. This is most unusual, indeed, especially without words to support its discourse. Despite the band's longevity, "Datura moon" is only their fifth album (compilations not included), the first one merely dating back from 1991. Similarly with their singles, with only about half a dozen, mostly in the early 80s, which explains the band's relative discretion. With an 11-year break between the releases of "Mojave reef" in 2002 and "Infra green" in 2013, we have known more Stakhanovite a pace. But the Insect Surfers can stay for several years without giving any sign of life and then reappear without any warning, as with their recent European tour, the second one of their career, which had me think that they might have split up before re-forming the band again.  Such was not the case. Surfing leads to everything, provided that sometimes one steps away from the board other than being blackballed by a mutinous wave.

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Love your music! When Laika and the Cosmonauts packed it up I thought any chance of hearing new decent surf 
music was gone. Then came across Reverb Sun. I am digging the hell out of Infra Green. Great stuff! ends me
back to my surf days in Hawaii. Thanks!

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"received Infra Green. I Imported into Itunes and changed the genre to "Surf"...

Then I listened to it.

Changed the genre back to "Totally Fucking Rocks."

Good work gentlemen."

Surf Guitar 101

Wow, over two months since the release of “Infra Green” by Insect Surfers, and still NO REVIEWS? Incredible! And so, so wrong, since this is one BRILLIANT CD, absolutely superb, and, in my opinion, their best EVER! (To be fair, a few people did post some nice comments about the CD in the CD release announcement thread, but far too few.) I suppose that people haven’t written much about it since it’s hard to write just a little about it – it really is a monumental piece of art! I think it might be very difficult to sum it up with just a few words, so whenever MANY words are needed, I’m happy to come to rescue! Smile I’ve been listening to this CD regularly and frequently for three months now, and I think I’m finally getting a good feel for it and have gotten to know it. It definitely took a while, since it’s pretty overwhelming on the first one - or three - dozen listens!

This is the Insects’ fourth CD of new studio material (in the band’s California guise, anyway), and their first since 2002’s “Mojave Reef” – it’s been WAY too long! (Though they did release a best-of and a live CD in the interim.)

Except for the band founder and mastermind Dave Arnson, it now has a completely different lineup, with SG101’s own Jonpaul Balak on bass (also playing with the Tikiyaki Orchestra and, well, just about every other SoCal surf band!), Jeff Utterback on drums (formerly of the Huntington Cads and Jon & the Nightriders, as well as a bunch of other SoCal bands), and newcomer to surf music Michael Abraham on the second guitar. Prior to this lineup I believe the Insects went through a fairly unstable period, with frequent lineup changes, but it looks as though this lineup is now as stable and as jelled as any in their history, with everybody fully dedicated to the band. And EVERY current player is a perfect fit for this unique and deeply original band! They are all highly accomplished and talented musicians, which the Insects’ music certainly allows them to demonstrate in spades, built as it almost always is on excellent musicianship. But what’s probably most amazing is that despite this radical lineup change, “Infra Green” is unmistakably still an Insect Surfers album! NOBODY sounds like these guys, but yet, this album sounds very much like it belongs with the other classic Insects albums such as “Reverb Sun” or “Death Valley Coastline”. This is a true testament to the clarity of Dave’s original vision for the band as well as his musical leadership and distinctive songwriting, to which obviously all the musicians are happy to contribute and add their own personal virtuoso touches.

Dave must have had a deep backlog of songs after an 11-year hiatus, as “Infra Red” sports 15 songs. It is a sprawling epic, more than an hour long, which in the surf music world it may as well be the White Album or The Wall! Of the 15 tracks, one is a cover (of a Pell Mell song), and one is Dave’s original dating back to the very early history of the Insects on the East Coast in the early ‘80s. What’s most striking is the wide breadth of the album, hitting many styles, feels and moods in that hour-plus – though it never sounds like anybody else but Insect Surfers. A few words about each song:

  1. Bay of Bengal – a high-energy opener that screams ‘Insect Surfers’! Michael Abraham gets a chance to prove what he’s made of right outta gate, with a jaw-dropping middle section full of fantastic middle-eastern-tinged riffs and ending with a super-cool and impressive bounced-echoes segment, before going back into the verse. (You can easily tell who is playing what on the whole album since Michael is always mixed in the left channel and Dave in the right.) Dave has such a distinctive tone, too, that fairly clean Gibson SG sound that’s lightly reverbed, definitely NOT a trad surf tone, but so great! Michael’s tone is a bit more overdriven and fat, but still quite surfy, especially once he kicks in those great throbbing tremolo chords. And let’s not forget Jonpaul’s wicked cool bass lines on this song, which really put it over the top! An instant Insects classic!

  2. DelMarVa – Stands for Delaware/Maryland/Virginia, the area of origin for both Dave and the band, and it’s a song that Dave wrote back in ’82, in the very earliest incarnation of the band. It actually reminds me more than a bit of the great Detroit surf band the Volcanos, it’s got a bit of their feel, but there’s a heavy new-wave sound to the song in parts, too, at least until Michael plays another ripper of a solo! Dave steps up to the plate in the second part of the song and shows that his own chops will take a back seat to nobody, unleashing a barrage of impressive licks!

  3. Space Park Drive – after a slightly odd opening, with some dissonant back-and-forths by Dave and Michael, it goes into an uptempo, uplifting verse, with frequent trade-offs between the two guitarists, until Dave starts doing some spacey long-echo freakouts in the middle, with the insistent beat held together by Jonpaul and Jeff. The echo freakout goes until the end of the song, finishing it up with unison descending lines between both guitars and bass. So cool!

  4. Orion Canyon – somber and moody, it starts off sounding a bit like something by the Mermen, but soon becomes obvious that that it is the Insect Surfers through and through. A beautiful melody, excellent band dynamics, great arrangement touches, such as where Michael takes over the main melody line while the band breaks things down, only playing accents, while Michael goes on to explore multiple variations on the theme, incorporating some beautiful harmonics. All the musicians show a true sensitivity to the needs of the song. The song approaches the end as Dave repeats the main theme and Michael dramatically double-picks the counterpoint line, leading first to a false end, and then a nicely resolved ending. Just brilliant.

  5. El Diablo Habanero – slightly Latino sounding, with a main line consisting of two chords going back and forth, and providing an opportunity for both guitarists to stretch out and play lengthy solos. Actually, this isn’t one of my favorites on the album, as it gets too repetitive after a while, but it’s definitely not bad.

  6. PintoPacerDusterGremlin – now THIS ONE almost certainly got the European crowds GOING! A simple, fast-paced, riff-driven track with frequent breakdowns for the band to shout out the names of the late-‘70s Deadly Subcompact Quartet! It’s just FUN!

  7. Plankton Dance – another upbeat, uptempo song (whoever knows Dave knows that these two words describe him 100% – and his songs reflect his personality!) with an unusual main melody and some great guitar interplay between Dave and Michael. I suspect that this the kind of a song that influenced Ferenc in Pollo Del Mar, and led him to write his tribute to Insect Surfers, “Insecticide”.

  8. Sea Scorpion – possibly my favorite song on the album! A slightly dark opening riff, leading to a middle-eastern main melody, followed by full band stops and Michael picking up the main melody from Dave, playing with it, twisting and turning it around, misshaping it, until, following another full band stop, we get a slow build back up, as at first bass reemerges, followed by one guitar, then drums, then the other guitar, then the guitars playing a harmony line, leading us back into the verse. There are so many little arrangement and melodic touches in songs like these, it seems like every few seconds there’s something new and unexpected! And wow, listen to how TIGHT this band is! Just amazing.

  9. Par Avion - a Pell Mell song that I wasn’t familiar with previously, but it’s very new-wave sounding, and completely different than anything I’ve heard before (well, it bears a bit of a resemblance possibly to El Ray’s “Bob Hund” on their “Chasing Ray” album, and that one was also influenced by an ‘80s new wave act). A very insistent beat with an almost military feel to the drums and bass, and the two guitars locked into a repetitive harmony line until the verse resolves into a tremolo-ed chord, and then the verse lines twist into something slightly different, continuing to change and evolve. It’s really striking and seriously cool!

  10. Pineapple Skies – a pleasant midtempo, slightly melancholy song, with a pretty melody and some fantastic, melodic bass playing by Jonpaul. It also reminds me a bit of some of Paul Johnson’s ‘80s-and-beyond songwriting (which, come to think of it, also applies to at least several other songs on this album).

  11. Vaquita – at nearly seven minutes in length, a groovy slow-burner of a song, with the perfectly locked-in rhythm section and another gorgeous, uplifting melody, but also a particularly beautiful bridge. Love the dolphin,seagull and other ocean noises made by the guitarists, and Michael’s brief solo is a gem. Actually, this song reminds me more than a bit of some stuff by the Aqua Velvets, it has a very similar feel and even sound. The song feels like sitting on beach on a beautiful day and enjoying every second of it, taking it all in…

  12. Crab Crusher – another jammy song, with a few distinct ‘heads’, while the space in between provides an opportunity for Dave and Michael to stretch out and improvise. And like “El Diablo Hebenero”, the song gets a bit repetitive for my taste, as it doesn’t really develop much, though the end is pretty cool.

  13. Kitsune – a darker jammy song, with an intriguing main melody and all sorts of backwards sounds and effects in the spaces in between the melodic parts. Even sounds like shoegazing music in places.

  14. Radar Road – at nearly 10 minutes in length, by far the most psychedelic moment on the album. Built on a simple midtempo looping bass riff, it allows Dave and Michael to pursue their flights of fancy, which are wide-ranging and in a few places quite extraordinary – though this is a pretty self-indulgent song. (I’m sure they would agree! Smile )

  15. Infra Green – a song completely unlike anything else on this CD, a real mood piece. It actually reminds me of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”. A supremely cool droning bass line with a barely audible floor tom rumbling underneath, and a bunch of guitar sound effects on top, but it all works beautifully.

Whew, there you go. That’s a lot! Bottom line: an utterly brilliant CD, and, for me, vying for the very best surf/instro CD of the year right alongside Frankie & the Pool Boys’ “The Adventures of Cap’n Coconuts”, the Mystery Men’s “Sonos Delirium” and Martin Cilia’s “Going to Kaleponi”. This is a major contribution to making 2013 another phenomenal year for surf music, and it is a truly special piece of work. Welcome back, Insect Surfers, we’ve missed you – and we didn’t even know how much!

rnrrantsnraves.blogspot.com

Guitarist Dave Arnson has been leading various incarnations of the Insect Surfers across the country for over 3 decades now. Though the line-ups change, the quality always remains the same, for Dave manages to find some of the finest players to work with at all times. Arson himself is an excellent and imaginative guitarist who still ping-pongs and windmills across the stage without missing a note and while playing intricate harmonies with his fellow players.

The band this night was all new to me, but obviously were all seasoned players who fit right in with the vision of high-energy, instrumental rock’n’roll, played with finesse and style. Most of the tunes were reasonably new, though some classics, such as “Polaris” (borrowing slightly from Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”) and “Tiger Shark” were also featured.

Along with fellow Los Angeleans, the Black Widows, the Insect Surfers are among the finest instrumental bands playing today.

Surf Guitar 101

Insect Surfers Best Of - wow, wow, wow! I HIGHLY recommend this CD! Not exactly trad, but again a lot tradder than a lot of people would expect, I think. This comp gets it exactly right - all of their best stuff is on here. EXCELLENT and lengthy liner notes by Ferenc (where the hell do you find the time, Ferenc???!!!), excellent packaging, some videos (haven't checked them out yet), but the most important thing is the music. And Insect Surfers have really written and recorded many truly unique and inspiring surf songs. Quite honesty, I hadn't listened to these guys for a long time before I got this CD, and kinda forgot how much I liked many of their songs. Well, this reminded me. For anyone whose tastes are a bit broader than just the total trad surf thing, you can't go wrong with this CD. An almost immaculate introduction to this long-running band.

Pipeline Instrumental Review

USA band Insect Surfers have been around since 1979, and since 1985 in their present all-instrumental guise. Satellite Beach is a compilation of their best 18 tracks from the last 20 years, a fine introduction to the band if you have never heard them. It's also a useful set as it includes the unreleased Dorsal Fin and three hard to find tracks. Mr Yunioshi originally appeared on Del-Fi's Shots In The Dark tribute to Henry ManciniZorba's Theme was on Blood Red Records' Mondo Drive-In, and Massachusetts appeared on the Melody Fair tribute to the Bee Gees. Three videos are included as a bonus, these are single camera shoots which also use the camera for sound.

Dave Arnson and Danny Sullivan provide the guitar dynamics, each playing rhythm, lead and harmony, trading lines with equal virtuosity on their respective Gibsons. My favourites include Volcano Juice, a three minute guitar extravaganza set to a Bo Diddley beat with Davie Allan joining in for a wah-wahed fuzz solo. Tethys has a moody melody over a chunky rhythm, Tiger Shark romps and ranges with a pleasing jangle, and Polaris is a slower, atmospheric theme with a jerky beat. Black Sea bounces around with a middle-eastern flavour while the catchy melody of Diamondback is aided by its pulsing beat. Flamin' Eddie's Dragstrip is a Davie Allan influenced rocker and Horizon Riders a hypnotic galloper. It's adventurous stuff without becoming overblown or overlong.

Guitar Player Magazine

"L.A.'s Insect Surfers have never been obsessed with slavish imitations of vintage sounds so much as recapturing the proto-punk abandon of early instrumental rock. Like San Francisco's Mermen, the Insect Surfers often veer into heady psychedelia,generating euphoric washes of reverb, twang and crashing cymbals on Death Valley Coastline"(Marlin Records)

Dumb Angel Gazette

As proven by the opening set by the Insect Surfers', surf music is far from a thing of the past. Dave Arnson's introduction to "Zuma Slam" accentuated this, and perhaps the best aspect of the evening was to hear a group like this through Gazzari's monumnetal sound system, usually wasted on the drudgery of heavy metal bozos. When applied to a real rock'n'roll band (as opposed to loud and pretentious primp-posers), it's enough to make a performer's eyeballs wide with amazement!...and it's here also that I will commend the Insect Surfers for their sound. What makes them so special is not their linkage with authenticity (which makes them great to hear in the first place), nor their variety-oriented approach (which is brilliant enough to include both instrumentals and vocals---Arnson tells me one of his biggest influences is the SURFIN' U.S.A. album!). It ain't even their unique approach of trade-off lead guitar-extended surf jamming (which only leads to excitement and never falls into that dangerous territory of ponderousness which ties a group to the despicable term "Progressive"). Nope, it's none of these, and to break the rule of three, it's not even the absolutely bitchen way that Arnson leaps, squirms, and wriggles around the stage while playing guitar for added punctuation. You wanna know what makes the Insect Surfers so fabulous?...!...? It's the way they take all of those things, melt them in to one bottle of goop, fill them into a mold, and cook up some incredible edibles that would satisfy the thirstiest hunger for SURF! The ambidextrous Danny Sullivan not only plays lead and rhythm guitar, but also sax and keyboards, while occasionally glancing behind himself to get an extra charge from the surfing movies usually being screened behind his band somewhere. Not only that, these guys both come up with some brilliant originals to boot (that doesn't mean someone should illegitimately press 'em up!) The bass player and drummer both look like refugees from the last trip to Mexico, and they are living with the same attitude they had down there!...and you know what? Somehow, Dave Arnson looks like he stepped right out of a"Murph The Surf" cartoon by Rick Griffin, directly into REAL LIFE...heck, dem are the kind of people ya gotta have around!

Dumb Angel Gazette

Perhaps todays best original surf group is The Insect Surfers. Original, meaning that rather than concentrating on covers, these guys spend most of their time writing new surf instrumentals, and thank goodness for that, because they've come up with plenty of whoppers! This is the first cassette by the new band, featuring Danny Sullivan. Dave Arnson has put out on LP (in 1980) and also a 45 and an EP. The new version of the group has become quite a popular attraction not only at Toe's Tavern, but also plays the Hollywood circuit quite a bit. Hence, the neccesity for a tape, I mean I always see people asking for their music, so Here Tis! The opening "Insect Stomp" is a ska tune, much in the style of The Halibuts. This here is a little twisted, however, featuring an organ part right out of "The Munsters". The real meat and potatoes rolls into high gear with Arnson's "Zuma Slam", a bodysurfing song supreme. It's about time that bodysurfers had an anthem! Some lyrics: "On a life with fins, el rollo and a belly spin"...Honolulu Lulu would be proud. The chords kinda come down with that WHOMP you get a Zuma...ouch! "Halley's Beach" is a melodic gutar tune, featuring sweet harmonics and an undercurrent rhythm, good listening, but next is "Polaris", which has become a surf mood classic...at least for those who get to hear it! This type of melody and feel is unique and powerful...kinda sticks in your head like surf wax on a board. Sullivan's dramatic "Outsider" rambles along in high gear, featuring stops and starts that highlight a perfect guitar sound...this one is really hot! Drummer John Convertino should be commended for his fine work here. Closing the all-too-short set is the miracalous "Sunbeam", no doubt a tune Mark R. Daver has been goin' nuts over. Opening with a superb dual lead guitar melody, just good and long enough to make you feel as if this is gonna be a hot instrumental...then....HARK! It's a vocal!...and a damn good one, too. This verse has a majestic, building quality to it, like an aspiration being fulfilled, then back to that hot chorus...then, the mid-break, which is the clincher of 'em all. Sounding as if you'd just stepped into a ritual flower-power dance at Swami's (famous surf spot over here near Carlsbad), complete with a fife-type solo right out of "California Dreaming"...then you hear some stock Hot Rod sound effects (sounds like a serious hemi to me) rumbling through the break, leading into Dave Arnson's over-the-clouds Flying V surf guitar solo...then back to that hot instrumental chorus...WOW! This is like the great lost surf group...if say the Crossfires or someone had the guts follow some missing link-progressive impluse all the way through to 1967, it still wouldn't have sounded quite like this. And I know this group has a lot more fantastic originals stocked up in their backlog, because I go to about half of their gigs, just to hear this stuff! Hopefully, someone with money and artistic intelligence (not to mention rock and roll spirit, a tought threesome to come by these days) will get it together and help get some of this brilliance out....till then, this cassettte does quite fine. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!

Reverb Central

This live set is ambiently recorded, but among such sessions is very durable. Superb songs well played with good enough sound to please your tender surf-starved ears. The *Insect Surfers* unique brand of surf comes alive here. Check it out!

Picks: Meteorite Shower, Third Stone, Coolangatta, Re-Entry, Electric Marlin, Bouzouki, Grunion Run, Horizon Riders, Nomad, Silver Coast, Stingray, Vaquita, Insect Stomp, Starfish Ranch / Diamondback, Tiger Shark

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Meteorite Shower ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
After all these years, Meteorite Shower remains an infectious tune with a strong melody. Its driven nature and optimism are very clear, as is it's textured energy. In many ways, it's as close to an *The Insect Surfers* signature sound as there is, with its trademark twin lead guitars. It was originally titled Electric Dayglow Meteorite Shower.
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Third Stone ****

Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental (stereo)
Third Stone is always cool live, presenting an even bigger chemistry. It's an Insect's eye view of *Jimi Hendrix*'s song - inspired by, but surely not derivative of Jimi's song. Totally original and bursting with dueling leads and great tension.
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Coolangatta *****

Surf Instrumental (stereo)
The wonderful charm of the liquid chords and guitar likes here are superb! Coolangatta pulses with power and infectious rhythm, plus some spectacular guitar tone and sustain. This is one fine track and performance!
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Re-Entry ****

Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental (stereo)
Re-Entry takes you into the west with it's saucy guitar lines and rhythms. A touch bluesy, but clearly born of the sands of the Pacific. Wonderful!
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Electric Marlin ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Electric Marlin writhes in search of glassy walls unknown, as if they are surely just around the next bend. It's a fast and powerful song, Rhythm dominated and full of guitar adventure, it's just too cool.
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Bouzouki *****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Bouzouki has been an Insect staple for ages. It never gets old! It combines trad Greek traditions with surf guitar and bits of Miserlou. This performance is fiery (how else could the Insects play?).
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Grunion Run ****

Desert Surf Instrumental (stereo)
A high energy instrumental with many changes, speed guitar art, dribbling notes, and magnetic joy. It pulses, circulates, and splashes!
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Horizon Riders *****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Horizon Riders is an infectious spaghetti western with electric psychedelic swirls. The rolling cowboy beat and Morricone-ish melody create a splendid Southwest image! The many textural changes add a sense of evolving story lines. Superb!
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Nomad ****

Surf Instrumental (stereo)
Nomad has been in the *Insect Surfers* set for a long time. It evolves gradually and delicately over time. It's compelling structure and chord charm are very endearing.
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Ursa Minor / Polaris

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
The intro called Ursa Minor gets longer and more psychedelic as time goes by. Very liquidy and illusive. Polaris remains a superb bit of *The Insect Surfers* magic. No matter how many times I hear it, I get a very satisfied grin on my face. Sparkling, magnetic, and superb!
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Silver Coast *****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Silver Coast has become a heavily effected psychedelic swirl. It's a fine example of the swirling perfection that the *Insect Surfers* are capable of. Gorgeous ringing tone and throbbing essence of surf.
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Stingray ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Born in the earliest days of the *The Insect Surfers* in DC, Stingray has endured and grown in stature to be an essential part of the Insects' playlist. Infectious and rhythmic.
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Vaquita *****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
This is a highly unusual song for the insects. It's Spanish flavor and unique rhythm take you into new territory with that magic Insect charm to keep you save. Trembling guitar, ringing chords, sweet feedback, and delicious psychedelic washes of sound.
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Insect Stomp ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Once a sax lead song,Insect Stomp has become a guitar driven ska delight. Its infectious rhythm almost demands body movement. The guitar leads dribble off perfect notes sputtered at great speed. Bluesy, tropical, and energetic. Way cool!
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Starfish Ranch / Diamondback ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Starfish Ranch sports a very cool melody line and galloping rhythm that play nicely with your sense of the great expanses, while keeping the Pacific close at hand. Superb. It segues into the pulsing feedback laden gem Diamondback/*." This song has been around for quite a while, and always pleases. Wonderful guitar lines and sultry drums.
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Tiger Shark ****

Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
Tiger Shark develops a growling riff that's dangerous and compelling. The splash chords and guitar wizardry are superb.

Reverb Central

It's about time! Six years in the making, and well worth the wait. The Insect Surfers' new CD is just about as sophisticated as it gets without losing the surf and rock and roll edge. This is a glorious album of incredible writing and playing. Maximum recommendation here!

Picks: Silver Coast, Reptile Boots, Horizon Riders, Coolangatta, Tethys, Dewey's Dead, Batwave, Flamin' Eddie's Dragstrip, Ocotillo, Asteroid, Black Sea, Electric Marlin, Nomad, Ursa Minor, Starfish Ranch / Mojave, Baja

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Silver Coast ****

Slowly rising from the sea and beautiful guitarscapes, Silver Coast rides on a circulating melody line atop a great rhythm. This fine track is is a fine example of the swirling perfection that the Insect Surfers are capable of. Gorgeous ringing tone and throbbing essence of surf, with long howling feedback and grumbling bass slowly releasing the track as it fades under the waves.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Reptile Boots ***

Lizard skinned rhythms and pumpin' drums bump under a modern semi-psychedelic melodic melody line. The contrast between the foreground backtrack and distant lead creates a haunting sound. Quite nice!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Horizon Riders *****

This is one of the best new songs from the Insect Surfers. It's an infectious spaghetti western with very visual psychedelic swirls. The rolling cowboy beat and Morricone-ish melody are a splendid Southwest epic! The many textural changes add a sense of evolving story lines. Great!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Coolangatta *****

Like a chunkier version of Rake and the Surftones with Link Wray close by, Coolangatta pulses with power and a great rhythm, plus some spectacular guitar tone and sustain. This is one fine track!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Tethys *****

Tethys captures your ears right from the start. The alternating melody line is captivating and intricate. Each guitar brings its own brand of delivery to the song, with many fine changes in texture and tone. Tethys is a magnificent track.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Dewey's Dead ****

On the verge of dirge inversion, Dewey's Dead grumbles about the loss in a never ending tubular ride way, with thunder in the tom toms and a relentless adventure in the rhythm.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Batwave ****

Batwave is dissonant and angular, with intense tortured ambiance and plenty of attack. It's dark and dangerous, and haunting too. The howling adds to the fright factor. Excellent!
Sci-Fi Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Flamin' Eddie's Dragstrip ****

The dragsters rev up, the announcer calls the race, and then the guitars kick in. This long time Insect Surfers finally makes it to disc, and way past due I say! Great grodie fuzz and liquid guitar, an utterly infectious melody, Church Key whammy dips... what more do you need? Edgy hotrod cool!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Ocotillo *****

The warm melody of Ocotillo flows like a ride down the Baja coast in search of a perfect summer break. Completely cool, with a Spanish edge and pumping bass line. Fine track!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Asteroid ****

Space echo guitar, backwards coolness, mind-game escapes... and that's just the intro. In an odd way, this reminds me of the introduction to Shuggie Otis'Freedom Flight. It's more a soundscape than a song, but is quite satisfying.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Black Sea *****

This is an amazing new song! It rides on an undulating rhythm, born of western skies and summer adventure. Compelling and exquisitely arranged, Black Sea demands your attention. Vibrato drama, silky fluid lines, psychedelic effects, and a call to the open highway. Magnificent! No, it's Perfect!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Electric Marlin ****

Electric Marlin heads down the coast to glassy walls unknown. This track is rhythm dominated and full of adventure, fast and delicate, and like the call of the wild. Excellent!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Nomad *****

Another stellar Insect tune loaded with energy and twin lead style, Nomad has been in the Insect Surfers set for quite a while. Heavier than in the early days, yet sparkling in a modern way. Fine song.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Ursa Minor [live] ****

Like a scene from a distant space station, Ursa Minor is moody and mystical, with a solid air of cold vacuum adventure. It's a soundscape that often opensPolaris these days. It stands alone well on it's own.
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Starfish Ranch / Mojave *****

The upbeat adventure of Starfish Ranch is always more than friendly and attractive. This infectious and circular melody line always brings a grin to my mug. The whammy action and writhing guitaristry are very powerful. Mojave is transitioned into. It is made of the rumble of the decay, with haunting feedback whale calls and moody fine drums. Quite a soundscape!
Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Baja *****

Lee Hazelwood's classic Baja is very nicely rearranged by the Insect Surfers. The sea breaks gently on the shore, the guitar rings out, and a softened delivery adds a sense of beauty and calm. Excellent counterbalances between the two guitars makes this one of the best versions around!
Surf Instrumental Stereo

Cosmik Debris

Along with Pollo Del Mar, The Mermen and a small handful of other bands, Insect Surfers take a heavier approach to their instrumental surf music.   Of course, Dave Arnson and company have been at it longer than the others, having started his band in Washington D.C. in 1979. They've never disbanded, though there have been a few players in and out over the years, and today they sound exactly like a band with that many years of experience and maturity.   They manage to make a track heavy while keeping it melodic and somehow buoyant.   I'm sure they'll hate this, but I've always thought of them as the Blue Oyster Cult of surf, but I mean it as a hell of a compliment.   A song like "Nomad" could be just another surf tune in other hands, but it has a mysterious quality, a foreboding and a forlorn feeling to the distant lead guitar that takes it a different direction.   The musicianship has only improved within Insect Surfers and the songwriting has done likewise.   With music of this quality coming out 24 years into their career, one wonders if this band even has a pull date.   I say keep the music comin'.

Skratch Magazine

The third full-length album from this Los Angeles-based surf instrumental quartet has the power and grace of a 20-foot swell.   With dueling guitar action in the vein of Dick Dale, this band rips through 16 songs that would make The Ventures proud.   From blistering surf songs to drag tunes, Western themes, and space rockers, this album has pretty much everything except vocals.   There's even a nice longboard tune, "Dewey's Dead", dedicated to the late Dewey Weber, one of the legends of West Coast longboarding.   This band was formed in 1979 and has been performing sizzling surf tunes for better than two decades.   Only years of recording and performing can make a batch of musicians perform this tightly together.   It's majestic, it's hot, it's real surf music in the new millennium.   Check out some flaming guitar music at the band's Website www.chromeoxide.com/insect.htm.

Reverb Central

The long awaited fourth album from the Insect Surfers has finally seen the light of day on CD. The Insects started life in the Washington DC area over a decade ago, where they issued a pair of great records of new wave surf-o-pop, which still find their way onto my playlists from time to time, especially "Dorsal Fin", "Up Periscope," and "VOA." After a move to LA in the late 80's, Dave Arnson formed a new version of the band, with way fewer vocals and a more West Coast / Southwest sound, eventually ending up with no vocals at all. The Insect sound today is not classic surf by any stretch of the imagination, with Dan Sullivan 's Flying V and the smooth distorto guitars only slightly reverbed and their ever present Southwest mystique. Their now impossible to find (except on vinyl) third album "Reverb Sun" is a stellar disc, and their third of the "Summer Surf" CD is equally grand. They have issued a 10 inch vinyl mini-album with a few of these tracks called "East-West" which also ncluded two tracks from "Summer Surf" not on the CD. The rest of this album as been circulating on cassette since then, until now, when it is finally out on CD. The lineup is the classic dueling twin leads of Dave Arnson and Dan Sullivan , Dan Vallenti on bass (now with the Boardwalkers ) and Jeff Utterback on drums, now in the Tiki Tones . "Mig Alley," "Razorback," and "Re-Entry" sport Mike O'Neill on bass, and Steve Birdowski (ex-Jon & the Nightriders) on drums. Picks: Tiger Shark, Razorback, Psychotronic, Third Stone, Diamondback, Walking Distance, Bengazi, Stingray, Ocean Maid, Re-Entry, Volcano Juice, Huntington Beer Dance, 77 Gaza Strip, Mig Alley

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Tiger Shark ****

"Tiger Shark" opens the album with finite feedback, which evolves into a heavy growling riff with a very cool chunky melody over the top. This is one of those highly infectious Insect Surfer songs that can be identified as theirs without ever having heard it before. A fine track.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Razorback ****

Pick slides slam into a melodic bluesy progression in " Razorback ," resulting in a desert mystique that projects images of cacti and mysterious moving rocks around which razorbacks search for chow.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Psychotronic ****

Dedicated to B-movies everywhere, " Psychotronic " features the signature Insect dual leads over fine chunky rhythms. The trashiness of the black and whites is self-evident in this fine track.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Third Stone ****

"Third Stone" is an Insect's eye view of Jimi Hendrix 's real message to the world, that the worst fate of man was the passing of surf music, that, for your sins, "may you never hear surf music again." Inspired by, but surely apart from Jimi's tune, this is a totally original and Roswellian epic, with dueling leads and great tension.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Diamondback *****

A rattlesnake shakes it's moneymaker as you roll down the Arizona highway with a picture-perfect sunset looming in your future. That's what you see when you listen to "Diamond Back," with it's rolling rhythms, dual leads, and that snake rattle. This is the third best track on this CD, a 5 star tune!
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Walking Distance ***

The lone cover here is the final remnant of founding influence on the original DC version of the Insects. It's a perfectly in-place arrangement of the Buzzcocks ' "Walking Distance."
Brit Punk Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Bengazi ****

The other major influence in the Insects music, after recognizing the Southwest, Surf, and the Buzzcocks, is Middle Eastern melodies and structures. "Bengazi" oozes this sound woven seamlessly into the Insect web.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Stingray ****

"Stingray" features those wonderful dueling Insect leads over a chunky bottom end. It hollers fun and melody.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Ocean Maid ****

"Ocean Maid" sports a very happy melody, which conjures Dave's seemingly boundless energy. Dave is unable to stand still while performing, and he moves more vertically as horizontally. The man is driven, and infectious to watch. "Ocean Maid" should be in a commercial for some sporty imported car. It has a definite open road feel.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Re-Entry ****

A slight detour from the open road of the West is had via "Re-Entry," with it's plinky dual leads, chunka-chunka rhythms, drones, and a bluesy feel.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Volcano Juice *****

King Fuzz himself ( Davie Allan ) lends his bike-o-phonic assault to "Volcano Juice," a towering number with a rolling bass line under a Bo Diddley tom tom cadence and a relentless building series of crescendos. This is the second best tune on the CD, an irrepressible monster! Very tribal and primitive!
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Huntington Beer Dance ***

Down Huntington Beach way, there's a tribal line dance ritual thing the surfers do in the taverns called the Huntington Beer Dance . They bounce and slam with beer hoisted overhead, slopping the place up and splashing all within a ten foot radius. The song conveys the event with it's stomp ethic and beer spilling glissandoes.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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77 Gaza Strip ****

"77 Gaza Strip" features exotic rhythms and dueling leads. While it's name conjures expectations of the late fifties Warner Brothers Television detective series 77 Sunset Strip , which starred Efram Zimbalist Jr. , and cult idol Ed "Kookie" Byrnes , there the similarity ends. This is a fine Middle Eastern epic surf slam.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Mig Alley *****

"Mig Alley" is an epic number named after the notorious battle ground of the Korean War. It pounds, it rolls, it has an exotic feel, and a unique and unforgettable melody line. This is THEE BEST INSECT TRACK EVER (he says objectively).
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo

Chattanooga Free Press

"These guys are one of the absolutely finest instrumental bands to be found anywhere, yet they have remained an underground band since their inception in Washington, D.C. in 1979. (They later relocated to Southern California.) It should be noted, however, that they do have a track on the Rhino Records' History of Surf Music box set. They do not just play surf rock though, calling up both punk and rock-a-billy, with a little Raybeats or Link Wray here and there. The songs are varied and tuneful without re-hashing the same riffs over and over.
    "Tiger Shark","Re-entry", and "Volcano Juice" all venture way beyond mere surf progressions. Arnson and Sullivan's guitar lines squirm, shake and recoil all over the map. They even cover the Buzzcocks' "Walking Distance". If you like music of any kind, it is hard not to like the Insect Surfers."

Alternative Press

    "I've always figgered L.A.'s Insect Surfers for a tight, musicianly kind of instro surf band (sort of the opposite of Sacramento's Tiki Men). Hell, these bugs have been playing the crap since 1979, you'd assume they'd have their chops down--and they do......Nonetheless, there are plenty of fine moments here, particularly the Dick Dale-derived numbers "Diamondback"and "Bengazi", the latter of which adds shades of Ennio Morricone twang for that lonesome big-sky sound. The "instant atmosphere--just add reverb" credo is taken to its extreme in "Re-entry", and a few layers of analog delay are then heaped on to blast it back interstellar. "Huntington Beer Party" is exactly what it sounds like: sloppy-drunk sax growls and uncontrolled staccato picking, all frothing over tranced-out tiki tom-tom work."

Cosmik Debris

"Forget about Jimmy Hoffa. The pyramids? Ha! You want to solve a real mystery? Then figure out why Insect Surfers haven't been signed. It's not for lack of historical significance. The Insects were one of the most important bands in the '79-'80 surf revival. It's not for lack of talent. These guys are upper echelon players and they have their own idenitfiable sound. They had to wait forever for this CD to see the light of day, and after forever, they gave up and put it out themselves. Shame on the industry. But at least it's and it's something else. David Arnson and Dan Sullivan are the balanced pair of guitar greats from left to right in your (hopefully cranked) headphones. They each have a clear understanding of how psychedelia should be woven into surf instrumentals.
    Songs like "77 Gaza Strip" and "Mig Alley" carry the beat and the feel of surf into exotic, but heavy, new territory. This is a style of surf that I find very magnetic....... Besides being important as a surf album, this is a very important guitar album that demands careful listening. If young guitarists hole up in their rooms and learn all these tunes, the future of the genre looks bright. I know it, lots of other people know it, and after one listen, you'll know it."

Tiki News No. 9

"...the dueling leads add the interest and complexity necessary to propel surf style instrumentals into the next generation..."

Reverb Central

First studio album for the Insects since Dave left DC in the early eighties. This is one of the most inventive and original instro surf bands. They came from eighties pop roots, passed through the Southwest where they picked up a unique variation on the mysterious sounds of the desert, and landed on the Southern California shores, where the surf instro ethic was added to the mix. the result is a wholly unique sound, infectious and readily identifiable. One of the keys is the perfect counter-playing of the two lead guitars, which create wonderful offsets and complimentary ambiances in which great tracks evolve. One of my favorite modern surf bands.

Picks: Meteorite Shower, Ghost Train, Polaris, Mojave, Grunion Run, Outsider, Halley's Beach, Pleasure Point, Hot N' Glassy, Insect Stomp, Bouzouki

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Meteorite Shower ****

This is an infectious tune with a strong melody. It has a driven magnetism about it. The optimism is clear, but so is the energy. There's something uniquely Insect Surfer about it, with the trademark twin lead guitar interplay that defines the Insects. It displays more watery fun and desert delight than just about any tune on disc. It was originally titled "Electric Dayglow Meteorite Shower."
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Ghost Train ****

This locomotively driven tune sports whistle chords, and a melodic power line that shouts "train a-comin'." Grinding, cool, and ready for the tunnel.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Polaris *****

This is one perfect instro. The melody line features the kind of hooks that stay with you, the arrangement is nearly magical, and the imagery is stunning. This is a mid tempo beautifully written and played tune with subtle drama and picturesque guitar tones.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Mojave *****

This is one of the most spectacular middle eastern surf tracks around. It hollers bazoukies and belly dancers, yet it also displays ample southwest desert edge and mystery. A highly energetic, melodic, and absolutely infectious track.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Gary Busey ***

A choppy fairly unmelodic number dedicated to those who ride without helmets, crash, and then say "shuck, it didn't hurt much" as they drool out of the side of their face. Actually, I think that requiring helmets is stupid. What is needed is indemnity for the other driver against recovering when available protection hardware is not employed. That goes for seatbelts, air bags etc. You can't legislate protection of people from themselves, but you can limit their ability to blame others for their actions. OK, I'm off my soapbox.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Zuma Slam ****

This is one of two vocals here. It's a leftover from the days just after DC, when songs like "Barricade Beach" were still in the set. I usually loathe surf vocals, but the Insects' craft work with the words always transcended my self-imposed limitations. I dearly miss "VOA" and "Up Periscope." Any way, this is a fine song about doing the Zuma slam... as well we all should. It's not a pick because it's a vocal and this is an instro web site, but I love this chunky track.
Desert Surf Vocal Stereo
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Grunion Run ****

A high energy instro with numerous changes, infectious guitar noodleage, dribbling notes, and magnetic joy. The Halibuts have a song called "Grunion Run," but this isn't a cover of that tune.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Outsider *****

This is all about waiting on your board for that long thin dark shadow-line that appears on the horizon, and builds until someone shouts "OUTSIDER!" It shreds, it double-pick pounds, it growls, it groans, and it's killer!
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Halley's Beach *****

This is among the early Insect Surfers instros. It has a truly fine melody, infectious and joyous. The track displays a major amount of coolness, using harmonics perfectly. This is just plain great!
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Pleasure Point ***

Named for the Santa Cruz surf spot, this sax lead track has a more ominous edge than most of their work, but also sports their fun and fluid guitar sounds.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Hot N' Glassy ***

I think this is among the least melodic of the Insect Surfers songs, but even as such, it is a fun jam with plenty of flair.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Insect Stomp ****

A sax lead number, driven by an almost ska backtrack, with an infectious rhythm that almost demands body movement. The guitar leads dribble off perfect notes sputtered at great speed. Bluesy, tropical, and energetic.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Bouzouki *****

This tune is dedicated to the fabled classic Greek instrument that inspired Dick Dale 's double picking. It combines the trad Greek ethic with surf guitar and bits of "Miserlou." A very strong track.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Surf Sun And Sound ***

An eighties pop chord structure, an enthusiastic beach lyric, and a bit of surf 'n' spy and blues.
Desert Surf Vocal Stereo

BAM Magazine

"Finally, you can always find the soul of rock 'n' roll among SoCal's handful of crack instrumental groups....Reverb Sun ...Insect Surfers give us 14 twinkling, jangling, vibration-laden original tunes that are wholly authentic, never anachronistic, and ripe with verve. David Arnson and Danny Sullivan's two-pronged guitar whammy never lets up: They're snappy on "Meteorite Shower"; fiesta-like on "Mojave" (which also bears Sullivan's gnarly sax accents); swaggering on "Gary Busey"; poppy for "Zuma Slam"; staccato in"Hot 'n' Glassy"; and rambunctious on "Insect Stomp". They even take a stab at worldbeat surf with "Bouzouki"(a Greek mandolin). This album winds up with the anthemic "Surf, Sun and Sound", which makes even a gremmie like me wanna grab a board and shoot the curls"

Chicago Reader

 "Although promoted as a progressive surf band which mixes influences of the present with the classic surf of the past, the Insect Surfers --originally from Washington, D.C. before they landed in L.A.(surf city) in the mid-'80's are fortunately nothing of the kind. Surf music, as any Ventures record will prove, is eternal. The Insect Surfers fare best without vocals, and rarely attempt them....... For the most part, the band sticks to bumbling (as in bee) twang and reverb guitar and commands a good portion of the established lexicon of surf -- cool saxaphone, motorcycles in the recording studio and drum solos in short, bearable bursts. The dual lead guitarists, David Arnson and Danny Sullivan man their assigned channels -- Dave plays on the and Danny fills out the right-- like a couple of bloodthirsty mosquitos, making nearly the whole of Reverb Sun the surfin' soundtrack of the year, even for those of us in the Midwest, where surf is mostly just a state of mind."

Reverb Central

LA's desert surf staples and long time KFJC live regulars the Insect Surfers have issued their long awaited 10 EP. Five tracks from their unreleased 2nd (or 4th, depending on your point of view) album, plus two live tracks from KFJC 's first Summer Surf show. They are such a fine band. The lineup is Dave Arnson - guitar, Dan Sullivan - guitar, Dan Valenti - Bass, and Jeff Utterback - drums, except for Razorback, which features Mike O'Neil - bass, and Steve Birdowski - drums (ex-Jon and the Nightriders ). Starfish Ranch and Jack The Ripper are the live tracks.

Picks: Tiger Shark, Third Stone, Razorback, Starfish Ranch, 77 Gaza Strip, Bengazi, Jack The Ripper

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Tiger Shark ****

"Tiger Shark" opens the album with finite feedback, which evolves into a heavy growling riff with a very cool chunky melody over the top. This is one of those highly infectious Insect Surfer songs that can be identified as theirs without ever having heard it before. A fine track.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Third Stone ****

"Third Stone" is an Insect's eye view of Jimi Hendrix 's real message to the world, that the worst fate of man was the passing of surf music, that, for your sins, "may you never hear surf music again." Inspired by, but surely apart from Jimi's tune, this is a totally original and Roswellian epic, with dueling leads and great tension.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Razorback ****

Pick slides slam into a melodic bluesy progression in " Razorback ," resulting in a desert mystique that projects images of cacti and mysterious moving rocks around which razorbacks search for chow.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Starfish Ranch *****

The Insect Surfers had played 3 or 4 times at KFJC in the pit, once even in the lobby from which they released several tracks commercially. In '94, they played Summer Surf I , and that's where this track comes from. It's not on the Summer Surf CD. Their unique vision of surf comes from eighties sensibilities and a reverent helping of the mysterious southwest desert.
Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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77 Gaza Strip ****

"77 Gaza Strip" features exotic rhythms and dueling leads. While it's name conjures expectations of the late fifties Warner Brothers Television detective series 77 Sunset Strip , which starred Efram Zimbalist Jr. , and cult idol Ed "Kookie" Byrnes , there the similarity ends. This is a fine Middle Eastern epic surf slam.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Bengazi ****

The other major influence in the Insects music, after recognizing the Southwest, Surf, and the Buzzcocks , is Middle Eastern melodies and structures. " Bengazi " oozes this sound woven seamlessly into the Insect web.
Southwest Desert Surf Instrumental Stereo
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Jack The Ripper *****

This is just about the ultimate "Jack The Ripper." Recorded live at Summer Surf I, the Insect Surfers give new intensity to this venerable classic. High potency rock and surf, dueling guitars, rhythmic drive, great drums, thundering bass... what more is needed?
Desert Wray Surf Instrumental Stereo

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