Is there an odder genre than surf music? Certainly the name’s bizarre, what other genre is named after a pass time?
It’s origins though make a bit more sense. For example part of the reason for the name was derived from the sound. Early surf-pop was characterised by large amounts of “wet” spring reverb which was omnipresent on the Fender amps of the time, this created a sound that while not exactly the sound of the beach did go some way to emulate the ebb and flow of waves.
Surf music began life in 1960s, essentially as a form of dance music, played at a quick tempo, and almost always instrumental, it was crucial in the evolution of the bands we know today, bass players in particular should be thankful as it was arguably the first genre to truly embrace the electric bass. Early stars such as Dick Dale, took the instrumental rock’n’roll of artists like Duane Eddy and by incorporating both the reverb heavy guitar sound and the fast alternating picking, gave birth to surf as we know it, Dale’s hit “Let’s Go Trippin” is indeed credited with starting the surf-craze, which was, to coin a cheesy phrase, sweeping the nation, or if not the whole nation at least California!
Indeed California was the home of almost all of the early surf bands, and where better than the crystal clear beaches of Orange County to sing songs about waves and wipe outs. The likes of The Bel-Airs, The Challengers and Eddie & The Showmen went on to a level of acclaim, but I think most would accept the ones who truly broke through were, of course, The Beach Boys, who took classic surf style and added their tight harmonies, in doing so going a long way to create vocal-surf pop. And how do we know the Beach Boys were a surf band? Well the clue’s in the title here folks, their first chart hit was called “Surfin”, their major label debut “Surfin’ Safari” indeed they had a similar attitude to surf as funk bands do to funk, that is say it as often as humanly possible incase anyone forgets what they’re doing, see the work of Funkadelic for evidence of this!
Others would go on to follow in The Beach Boys footsteps, probably most famously “Wipe-Out” by none other than the Surfari’s (again the naming culture wasn’t a subtle one), sadly Surf-Music itself would soon suffer a wipe-out of it’s own. The rise, initially, of the popularity of the British Invasion bands, and latterly folk, punk and garage would all steal the lime light from the surf bands and the popularity of the genre plummeted. Only The Beach Boys managed to maintain any level of success and acclaim, and they did that largely by moving away from their surf roots, and only wrote a few more surf themed songs. All good things must pass as they say, and certainly the genre’s limitations played a huge part in it’s almost inevitable decline.
It’s influence however still lives on, from the Pixies to Vampire Weekend, alternative music certainly wouldn’t sound like it does now without Dick Dale or Fender Amps, so here’s to surf pop, the little piece of Californian sunshine in the largely shadowy world of alternative music! And why are we talking about surf?
The brain child of lead singer and guitarist Zach Yudin, he’s joined by twin-brother and bassist Ben Yudin, jaunty drum crasher Casey Wojtalewicz and guitarist Christian Koons.
Surf-pop, well it’s certainly an influence. There’s also more than a dash of college rock thrown in for good measure. The influence of african rhythms (which will inevitably lead to everyone thinking you’re trying to be Paul Simon) are also prominent. Also common are songs about girls, being from California and more girls.
California of course…but to add some excitement to that predictable answer, they’re from Santa Monica. On top of that fact fans, they’re named after a “sleepy little seaside town” also in California (sleepy according to Secretly Canadia anyway, it could be the most party hardy town in all the land for all I know)
Zach’s been releasing music into the world since 2011, he originally did this as a solo artist under the moniker Oregon Bike Trails (you can see why he changed it) with the expansion into a full band he decided to ditch that name (again you can see why) and went for Cayucas instead. They signed to Secretly Canadian in 2012 and released debut single “Swimsuit” that year which was followed by last years debut album “Big Foot”
The dreamy eyed romanticism of it all! That’s what Zach would have us believe anyway, the name harks back to a bar that was popular in the 60s surf craze and according to the press release was the site of “helpless crushes, fights and pool games” and despite the fact it’s long since closed down, they reliably inform me there’s still plenty to get moony-eyed about their now! Away from what they want you to think, what we’ve got here is a band who sound like Vampire Weekend used to when they were more fun and less pretentious. The high energy bass playing recalls sadly departed Seattle stars Orca Team, and boy has he got a way with a catchy melody, there’s some proper ear worms here. Oh and if you like a challenging name to pronounce, you’ll enjoy learning to say “ky-yook-us” (it is pretty satisfyingly cutting)
It’s perhaps not one for the lyrical purist, in fact there’s not much more to it than “High School Lovers” and “East Coast Girls” and they certainly lack the almost overly smart Collegiate rhymes of Vampire Weekend. Though who listens to this sort of rhythmic, hazy, party music for lyrics. There’s enough hooks here to make a locker room, so if catchy’s your game Cayucas is the name! So everybody SING….
Oh, Elizabeth, don’t keep me guessin’
I opened up the door and saw you undressing
The words came out, one after another
You shoulda been my high school lover, oh
You shoulda been my Oh-ooo-woah
You shoulda been my Oh-oh-oh
You shoulda been my Oh-ooo-woah
You shoulda been my Oh-oh
Bigfoot is available now on Secretly Canadian. They’re currently on tour in the US, so fingers crossed a european tour might follow later this year if we’re lucky