CD Review: Atlantic Thrills’ Latest

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Surf rock that strays from the simple sounds of the sea and adds a little punk

In the early 1960s, much of American Top 40 rock & roll was dominated by a Southern California phenomenon known as the surf sound. Made famous by the likes of Jan & Dean, The Rivieras, Dick Dale, and of course the quintessential sun and surf band The Beach Boys, this music style reigned supreme for a solid five-year run, until being all but disseminated by an invading army of floppy-haired English rock bands in 1964. But what if The Beatles had decided to turn right at Greenland and never made it to our shores at all? What if the surf sound had actually been given the opportunity to grow and mature beyond the primitive recording techniques and relative innocence of Kennedy-era USA? Obviously no one can say for sure, but I can imagine it sounding something like the Providence-based band Atlantic Thrills.

Starting in 2010, Dan Tanner (guitar/vocals), Eric Aguiar (bass/vocals), and newest member Josh Towers (drums) formed an outfit that exemplifies everything that is right about unbridled, wild, gin-soaked, frat party rock & roll! If you’re looking for a socially conscious band whose goal is to end global warming while searching for the lost chord, man are you on the wrong road! These guys are all about fun – that is, the kind of fun that’s had fathers locking away their teenage daughters for decades now.

Coming off the heels of a tour that saw stops in Brooklyn, LA, and all points between, Atlantic Thrills have been promoting their self-titled album across the country. The 12-song collection consists of authentic garage rock with a punk attitude. Granted, these boys aren’t shy about lifting a lick or two here and there, but I reckon that’s part of their anything-goes attitude, which actually defines their sound.

Atlantic Thrills kick off with a dark rocker, “Problems.” On this hard-driving track, Tanner uses that slightly Middle Eastern scale used in surf rock songs by guys like Dick Dale (himself being of Lebanese descent). The enigmatic lyrics portends the character ridding himself of a past haunt, human or otherwise: “I killed all them demons, let them drown in their blood – I squandered my time, I gave up more than I should. If she ever found me, likely be done for good – I killed all my problems, left ’em deep in the ground.”

One of the standout tracks is the surf-rock opus “Day At The Beach,” for which the band also produced a hilarious accompanying music video. Addled with intertwining sand, sun and drug references galore, the song and video are like a Frankie & Annette Beach Blanket movie gone horribly wrong! “When I woke up in the city I was puffin’ on a mighty bone – I picked up a couple of biddys with some towels and a bag full of blow – I was high as a kite in the sand dunes…I wanna stay at the beach.”

If some younger music fans unfairly associate the surf genre with lighthearted beach romping through sea and sand alike, Atlantic Thrills go a long way to dispelling that myth. There’s no reason surf rock can’t be every bit as heavy and rebellious as modern alternative or old-school punk, and these guys are proving it at every stop on their hopefully never-ending tour!

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