Our favorite Luchador-masked surf rockers are back with a killer new album
Some bands offer quality, others offer quantity, a very special few, like Genki Genki Panic, offer both. Easily one of the most prolific bands in the area, GGP has just released their latest EP, Litanies of Surf, and once again the men in masks have demonstrated a mastery of style that allows them to take surf music and do whatever they hell they want to with it.
Like their earlier releases, Litanies of Surf showcases their trademark sense of humor with track titles like “Ghouls of Film,” “Radon Chong,” and “House of Dank Shadows.” I’m a sucker for wordplay and anyone who thinks puns are the lowest form of humor has never been to an open mic comedy night.
Funny titles aside, the songs are fresh and well done and it is a testament to the band and their commitment to the genre that they can take what might be seen as a limiting niche, and manage to build and expand on it in new and entertaining ways.
“Ghouls on Film” is the opening track and probably my favorite as it is chock full of Oingo Boingo goodness. It might just as well serve as an alternative soundtrack to “Forbidden Zone,” for all its weird modes and unusual chord shifts.
It’s no Elfman knockoff by any means, but I’d wager that Elfman himself would have to stop and think, “Huh, when did I write that?” if he heard it today. Like so much of the band’s work, this tune highlights their affinity for breakneck speed and unearthly precision. This band is tight.
“House of Dank Shadows” has more of a hard rock edge to it than I am accustomed to hearing from the band, at least the intro sets the tune up that way. After the opening bars, it becomes clear that this is not so much hard rock as Genki Genki Panic’s version of hard rock and that is especially worthwhile.
I have to assume that the use of what sounds like a traditional guiro is simply the band’s stab at cashing in on that whole “World Music” craze the kids are always on about and I, for one, salute the tasteful use of traditional ethnic instruments.
“Sexy Harambe Frankenstein” bursts out of the gate like Phil Spector on meth, an unstoppable wall of energy in which a guitar is made to sound (at times) precisely like a 1979 Asteroids arcade machine. A sonic punch to the nads, it is the shortest track on the disc and sounds like an Impressionist painter’s view of a mosh pit, if the mosh pit were held in the middle of a busy city street under alien attack.
“If You Want C.H.U.D. You Got It” has funk in its soul. The bass is all kinds of slippery/nasty groove while the guitar takes a more traditional middle-eastern sounding approach. The combination of the two elements is unexpected, but well done, another “Aha!” moment from the band’s repertoire.
Likewise, “Radon Chong,” my favorite track title for…reasons, has some funked up bass and by god, there is something akin to a “big band” breakdown in the middle of the tune that is just delightful. It doesn’t hurt that melodically the tune reminds of the Inspector’s Theme from the old Pink Panther cartoon.
“Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Hearse” is the final track on the EP and my assessment of the tune is basically how I would sum up the band; every bit as technically impressive as speed metal, but a thousand times more listenable and melodic.
The boys are masters of instrumental music and as they continue to grow and evolve I think there will have to be some more inclusive label than “surf music,” for though they are indeed a surf music band, they are much more and each successive release only reinforces that impression.
Litanies of Surf is available now on bandcamp or wherever fine local surf bands are sold.