Songs from Beyond!
4 out of 5 stars
Videos by American Songwriter
Don’t look now, but after 25 years, the West Coast’s most ghoulish and dangerous retro rocking band is back. The quintet, formed in 1994, made a splash on the surf music scene with a clutch of caffeinated albums combining the genre’s typically overmodulated reverb rocking with spaghetti western overtones, a raw punk attack enhanced by cheesy monster movie graphics—think an instrumental Cramps—and an overall bombastic attitude separating them from the rest of the surf and turf pack. By way of further defining their trashy esthetic, the group’s previous album, the monstrously titled Head Shrinkin’ Fun, was one of the few releases on Rob Zombie’s short-lived Zombco label.
Thankfully, a quarter century hasn’t dulled The Bomboras’ edge and many, including whatever is left of the band’s old fans, might contend that these eleven ominously groovy suckers are some of the finest and most daring in their rather slim catalog. Only one of the five members, drummer Dusty Watson (Dick Dale/Sonics… holla!), is new so they remain infected with the musical DNA of whatever planet these guys initially beamed down from.
The inherent limitations of their genre, where many songs sound similar, are avoided by writing riffs that stick and playing each one like it’s the last chance they’ll get. Led by Jake Cavaliere’s haunted organ, sounding like The Doors’ Ray Manzarek emerging from hell, and a double guitar salvo best described as frenzied (not coincidentally the name of one of their songs), the music starts at a 10 out of 10 scale intensity and never drops much below that.
On “Blowback” they wrangle Link Wray’s rugged “Rumble” chords, double time the beat, and emerge with 2 ½ minutes of non-stop aggression you’ll need to decompress from before starting the next tune, the wittily titled, Sergio Leone-inspired, “The Good, the Bad and the Single Fin.” The chugging “Infiltration” gallops along like a runaway steed until the guitar drops out, the bass repeats the riff, and they start over again, furiously racing to the finish line. All in less than three minutes. The melody of The Doors’ “Not to Touch the Earth” is an inspiration for the similarly styled “The Deora Rides,” a hefty hunk of garage angst that builds to a manic climax.
By now you are either on The Bomboras’ bus to pulp fiction outer space, implied by the closing “The Man from Planet X,” or realize your heart probably can’t stand the strain of the untethered surf/monster/punk energy.
Those prepared to withstand this frazzled power (available on vinyl only) need to strap in, hang ten, and welcome back one of America’s most radical revivalist bands… before the government censors them.
Photo courtesy Western Publicity