Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 118

HIT LIST REVIEWS

The Insect
Surfers

TWANG FOR THE
21st CENTURY

T

wang lives! Sixty
years after Duane
Eddy's "Rebel
Rouser" and Link Wray's
"Rumble," the sound of
instro guitar is alive and
thriving.
Ben Rogers is an
Australian picker with
a penchant for anything
from vintage twang to
Hawaiian slide and '50s
rock and roll. What makes
him stand out from the
pack, aside from his fine
playing, is a fabulous
tube-amp tone. While
listening to his latest, it
often sounds like you're
standing in the studio with
him, which itself is worth
the price of admission.
The album kicks off
with an instrumental
reading of David Bowie's
"Heroes," all the better
since Ben deploys a Reverend Descent baritone for
the melody. Imagine classic Nashville ace Grady
Martin playing Bowie
and you get the picture.
Next up is a rockin'
version of "Take The A
Train," Rogers gracing his
'64 Gretsch 6120 with

Ben Rogers'
Instrumental Asylum
In Search of Lasseter's Riff

Insect Surfers
Datura Moon

whammy dips, swing
phrasing, and superb
chord comping. "Twenty
Thirteen Summer"
delivers a Latin groove
with lap steel on top,
while "Save The City" is
a pure rockabilly rave-up.
The spy ballad

"Alamania" brings the
baritone back, as does
"Bellywacker," this one
sounding like a heavy
version of "Tequila" and
featuring drummer Denis
Close on second guitar.
If you like vintage
instro-guitar, do yourself a favor and check
these boss Aussies out.
Rogers' Instrumental
Asylum is the real deal.
The Insect Surfers is a
veteran band formed in
Washington, D.C. and reflecting that city's unusual
taste for surf, punk, and
roots-rock. Now based
in L.A., the band is led by
founding guitarist David
Arnon, with newcomer
Michael Abraham on
second lead guitar.
For their latest, the
guitarists are split in stereo, with Arnon's cleaner
Gibson and Epiphone SG
tones in the right channel
and Abraham's dirtier ES335 snarl in the left, making it easy to parse guitar
parts. Bassist Jonpaul
Balak ably handles the
bottom on a '75 Fender
Precision with flatwounds.
The opener, "Flying
Fish Offramp," is neither
surf nor punk; it feels
more like an homage to
early Dire Straits, exhibiting Knopfler-approved
clean tones and snappy
chord vamps. "Fjord
Hornet" has a Third Man
spy vibe and a speedfreaked finale that puts
the word "insect" in the
band's moniker. Best
of all is the closing cut,
"Datura Moon." It's a
slow psychedelic jam -
perhaps more Quicksilver
Messenger Service
than the Ventures - but
sounds fabulous with
David's trippy bottleneck
glissandos. - Pete Prown

VINTAGE GUITAR

118

June 2018

vocal on "Save Me." Walter Trout's big
thick tones are a highlight of the minor-key
funky rocker "Burnin' For You." Luther
Dickinson is featured on the Gospel funk
of "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Cryin'."
Sonny Landreth's blistering slide glides
effortlessly along in "I'm Going Home."
And if all those guests are enough, the
wonderful Johnny Lee Schell appears on
all the cuts and Nicole's touring guitarist
Brandon Miller is fabulous on "Baby Eyes."
The guitar work is stellar, but Nicole
and the songs are the stars. - John Heidt

Sweet & Lynch

Unified

Michael Sweet
was in Stryper and
George Lynch was
in Dokken. As a
duet, t hey have
remained busy since their '80s heyday,
thriving in a universe where heavy music
is cherished.
This latest has James LoMenzo on bass,
Brian Tichy on drums, and features a more
integrated writing style. Their compositional strengths have birthed 11 inspired
songs that transmogrify groove, produce
freakish vocal range, and muscle-car guitar
with zeal.
"Promised Land" and "Walk" are shots of
adrenaline. Lynch miraculously dreams up
hellacious riffs, while Tichy smacks the hell
out of his rig with expert authority. Lynch's
solos are terrifically intervallic, while Sweet
hits all kinds of high altitude notes.
"Afterlife" slows things down but its
ominous tonality yields the hypnotically
heavy. The ballads "Tried & True" and
"Bridge Of Broken Lies" round out a successful album.
Unified isn't a retro cash grab. Lynch
continues to expand his sonic artistry,
while Sweet elevates his craft in the same
way. Case in point is the inspired "Live To
Die." -Oscar Jordan

Michael Landau

Rock Bottom

What do you do
when you've done
it all and have nothing left to prove?
Mike Landau returned to the hard-edged tripped-out
music of his youth, and the stimuli that
made him want to channel the cosmos in


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