The Supertones 2019
Riding the waves, instrumental quartet go for interstellar overdrive and land on Brooklyn.
Even though neither Upper nor Gravesend Bay feels very conducive to surfing, this band couldn’t care less because New York cool is what’s supposed to be driving their hot licks across the univers, yet in reality the results of their trip hit closer to THE SHADOWS’ “F.B.I.” than to any retrofuturstic flurry of notes THE SUPERTONES might conjure. There’s infectious rumble to “Torque Wrench” and opener “Unknown” where Simon Chardiet’s propeller-like bass and Tommy Mattioli’s fiery tom-toms ignite the spank of Seth Lipscher’s rhythm guitar and the filigree of Tim Sullivan’s solos, but slower cuts are mired in starry-eyed romanticism which gets in the way of twang.
Still, the vibes behind “Balazar” fill it with utter wonder and work magic on “Speed Trap” whose stark rockabilly groove is a highlight of the entire album, but the foursome’s warm reading of “Starman” doesn’t bode too well without lyrics, as there’s no improv in the familiar tune when it rolls from verse to verse, while the ever-eerie, and rendered elegant here, “Space Oddity” may be one Bowie cover too many. The same can’t be said of “For A Few Dollars More” that compresses Morricone’s cinematic original into a bullet-precise tune, and of “Backpedaling” which boasts a nice sparkle to undermine its own bluesy smell.
Wrapping up the trip with a piously adventurous Tex-Mex grace of “Queso Grande” (and an unnecessary bonus track), the American combo may look a bit apologetic, but surf-rock has long been a guilty pleasure. As such, this record is as good as it gets.