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Various Artists

PDX A Go-Go – Making Waves Up North

Review by Gary Hill

While the main influences here are psychedelia and surf music, it certainly doesn’t end there. Some of the songs are punky. Others have progressive rock leanings. The one thing that holds true throughout, though is that it’s all entertaining. I like this disc a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Phantom Strut – Wave Sauce

This comes in like we’ve joined in the middle of a song with a cool little building section that feels a bit like Hawkwind. Then it works out to some retro rock and roll and that’s quite tasty from there. Some non-lyrical vocals bring in some B-52s leanings and some theremin (or at least it sounds like theremin) is a nice touch.

El Nino - The Surf Weasels

With an especially active bass line, this is classic surf rock. There are some shifts and turns along the road, but this isn’t far removed from something The Ventures or Dick Dale would have done. There’s a cool slowing down section that serves to end it.

Tucu's Law – Shade 13

There’s a short spoken introduction here, then it leads off into something that combines the surf music sound with a real punk energy and distortion. This has hints of The Dead Kennedys, even.

Aphelion – The Outer Space Heaters

A neo-classical section opens this and brings it up as the song continues. It turns out towards more traditional surf music after a time and is another killer tune.  Even when set more traditionally in surf music, though, there are hints of progressive rock like Steve Howe’s solo work that show up here and there. In fact, parts of this one even feel a little like Yes at times.

Rock Candy – Susan Surftone

While the general surf music rules on this cut, there are more of those B-52s like elements that show up at times. This is a dramatic and powerful tune that’s quite cool.

Die Laughing – Wave Sauce

Opening with a harder rocking, almost punk texture, that sound is alternated with more melodic surf sounds. There are some suitably retro weird female vocals (non-lyrical).

Shade 13 – Shade 13

The surf music side of punk rock is presented here on this screamer that isn’t far removed from the Dead Kennedys. This is a real screamer that’s one of the hardest rocking tunes of the set.

Ponderosa - The Surf Weasels

 This mellow and balladic tune is more traditional surf music in a lot of ways. Suitably there are hints of country music here. For my money, while this is accessible and a change of pace, it’s a little too long and kind of boring.

Salt Water – Susan Surftone

More traditional surf music, this is a cool rocker that works quite well. It wouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine this as some long lost 1960s surf tune.

Space Cowboy – The Outer Space Heaters

Starting with fairly mellow and melodic surf music, this fires out into more frantic jamming later. It’s a lot of fun with some killer retro power. We’re taken through a number of changes and it even works out towards progressive rock later.

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