Surf rock is a one of the oldest subsets of rock ‘n’ roll there is, but its purveyors usually hail from the California coast, not the hills of southern Indiana. But an anomaly has emerged from Bloomington’s music scene: Thee Tsunamis.
Hot off last summer’s release of “A Goodbad Man Is Hard to Find,” this all-girl Hoosier trio have dropped a scalding four-song EP. “Delirium and Dark Water” features more of Thee Tsunami’s clangorous psych-surf.
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Adding to the ragged charm of these reverb-drenched rock songs is the method by which they were recorded. “Delirium and Dark Water” (and “A Goodbad Man Is Hard to Find”) was recorded completely with analog technology. These records are put out by Magnetic South, a record label and recording studio in Bloomington dedicated to capturing its artists on old-fashioned tape.
This aesthetic gives a certain authenticity to the garage-y tone of Thee Tsunamis. These songs wouldn’t quite sound right in the crystal clear sterility of digital recording.
Even on mp3 encodings, that analog charm creeps in. These tracks have tape hiss, room noise, and compressed bandwidth. The vocals are a little pitchy, but charmingly so, as there’s no auto-tune warble, just fiery chicks screaming into vintage microphones.
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While the medium suits the tunes, these are solid songs in their own right. Lyrically, the ladies mix a horror element in to their twangy surf songs. Titles like “Haunted House,” “Spellcaster Lounge” and “Psycho” reflect this.
The horror shtick is one thing (the album is marketed with the tag line “You haven’t experienced REAL EVIL until you’ve heard Thee Tsunamis”), but the real treat with Thee Tsunamis is the 60s girl group gang vocals and Betsy’s (band members go by first names only) visceral guitar playing.
This stuff rocks. It’ll get heads bobbing and feet stomping. Lyrics are interesting. It’s worth a listen.
“Delirium and Dark Water” was released on March 1. It’s available for purchase on vinyl and digital from Magnetic South.