It’s January in Cleveland, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wax up your boards and fire up the Woodie.
Musically speaking, anyway.
Hot on the heels of last summer’s Blue Light at Midnight, guitarist Susan Surftone is back with her first digital dose of riptide-ready rock and roll for 2016. And you won’t even need a wetsuit to catch this wave.
Available for download today on Amazon, cdbaby, itunes, and other online retailers, “Little Bit Lied To” finds the Queen of Surf Guitar (Record Collector) channeling Buddy Holly and Blink-182 for a saltwater-evoking salvo that—for all its retro feel—packs resounding lyrical relevance for today’s audiences.
Surftone decided to dust off the twenty-year old track in light of the ongoing shenanigans on the campaign trail for the Oval Office. Apparently, the vacuous promises and barbed insults spouted on television by would-be Commanders in Chief haven’t changed much since Surftone penned her sunny-sounding indictment of political monkeyshines.
Fortunately, the reverb-soaked sounds of The Ventures (“Caravan,” “Sleepwalk”), The Surfaris (“Wipeout”), Dick Dale (“Misirlou”), and Link Wray (“Rumble”) don’t get old, either—and Surftone’s got twangy guitar licks and sturdy, boogie board backbeats in spades.
“With today’s climate [the lyrics] seems to have new meaning along with the original one,” surmises Surftone of “Lied To.”
The New York native (born Susan Yasinski) picked up guitar at age nine and quickly mastered Elvis, The Beatles…and most of the jangly hits promulgated by the British Invasion groups of the ‘60s and garage rock heathens and punks of the mid-‘70s.
Surftone attended Boston College and worked law enforcement with the FBI before embracing music as a fulltime proposition. She cut several albums with all-girl trio The Surftones on Germany’s Gee-Dee label in the ‘90s, including Without Words, Thunderbeach, and Bitchin’—and even landed a few songs on popular surf compilations and tribute albums.
Relocation to rustic Oregon helped inspire a bona fide solo effort, Shore, in 2011. Since then, Surftone has collaborated with noted Canadian producer / engineer Steve Kravac (Less Than Jake, Pepper) on two additional full-lengths (Too Far, Blue Light at Midnight) and an EP (Reckoning).
“Little Bit Lied To” sees Surftone stepping out of her instrumental-rock comfort zone to personally deliver the deeds-not-words missive on mic; it’s her debut vocal performance. Think Debbie Harry (Blondie) meets Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), and you’ll get a sense of Surftone’s easygoing, too-cool timbre:
“There comes a day when it’s about what you do, not what you say,” Surftone reflects, perhaps pondering the feuding Republicans’ slapstick dynamic.
Susan’s signature throwback sound is there, too: “Lied To” benefits from a sparkly, three-chord guitar progression, beefy bass line, and crisp snare attack. Fans of Reel Big Fish, Brian Setzer, Jessica Lee Wilkes, and Los Straitjackets should take notice.
What’s more, guitar aficionados should check out Surftone’s work. More than merely a great surf guitarist or great female guitarist, Susan’s a terrific player, period, possessed of singular tone and slight-of-hand string prowess. Like many legends who develop their own “voice” on the instrument (B.B. King, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc.), Surftone’s got a style all her own. After minimal exposure to her music, one can hear a new solo (like the one on “Little Bit Lied To”) and instantly know it’s Surftone wielding the pick and working the whammy.
A follow-up single, “Shadowland,” hits retailers next week.
While Surftone has hinted that the days of recording full-length albums are behind her, we hope she continues grinding her axes and uploading the results, even if it’s only in piecemeal fashion like this.
Download “Little Bit Lied To” (for only .99) at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/susansurftone7
Susan Surftone on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/bm/artist/susan-surftone/id473719008