Boise band Demoni has been carrying the psychobilly flag since inception, turbocharging rock 'n' roll riffs into fiery streaks of punk rock. But for its latest release, the band turned its attention to another greaser favorite: surf rock.
Though the tunes are all written in a surf style--with instrumental guitar hooks, minor keys, the circular picking style popularized by Dick Dale, and the classic double-snare surf beat--the sounds of the instruments hedge closer to Demoni's psychobilly roots. There's the distinctive string-snap of a standup bass and modern-sounding distortion closer to the hollow-body snarl of The Reverend Horton Heat than to the Fender twang and early fuzz-tone of The Ventures.
The songs are good, it's just that Demoni didn't abandon its roots altogether in trying something new.
The punk-infused surf tunes on Surf City of the Dead could easily hold their own with others in the style, even against marquee groups like The Meteors.
"The Mask" is an especially good track and one that could be a tough competitor in a Pepsi Challenge of Demoni vs. Man or Astro-Man, the reigning kings of modern surf-punk. The song uses a riff similar to the one from "Pipeline," with a descending bass line beneath it.
The final track, "Twice the Evil," is another good one. The opening riff is reminiscent of licks found on Radiohead's OK Computer, but it moves along at a brisker pace, melting your face instead of shimmering across it.
Surf City of the Dead is neither a strict surf recording nor a psychobilly release. It falls somewhere in the middle, and shows the happy medium that can be found when a band stretches its legs a bit, but still strolls around in its comfort zone.