EP Review: The Zipheads – Surf Wars Vol. 1: The Day The Surf Stood Still

2022 is going to be a hard year to follow for new, underground releases, what with the double whammy of frantic lockdown projects and extended pressing times bottlenecking into an absolute meteor shower of shit-hot DIY bangers coming thick and fast as the year progresses.

On that note, The Zipheads from St Albans have wisely spent their time in the imposed gigging hiatus writing and recording their third release – and their first in over 5 years. A four-track instro-surf EP Surf Wars Vol 1: The Day The Surf Stood Still, which is available to pre-order on a choice of deep red or sky blue vinyl. You can also pre-save it on whatever you do that sort of thing on. Boasting an impressive array of nods to various genres whilst still staying true to the original surf sound the band set out to create, it’s going to be well worth your while reserving your seat at the grand unveiling.

Surf Wars… embodies the archetypal sounds of surf music yet with an overtly galactic feel which re-surfaces throughout the record. Whilst not afraid to venture outside of the usual tricks and tropes of a well-trodden genre, it makes a fine addition to the horde of absolutely great surf music that keeps on being made. For me, it’s remarkable how these tracks blossom with every listen through the minutiae of the performances. That’s a thing of real value, to be able to gain something new on each return.

The opening and title track smashes out the gate all guns blazing with a spiralling, lilting tune that displays the musicianship of the band from beat one. We’re then smuggled south of the border with a Hispanic-flecked punk and roll number Accendino! It features some beautiful interweaving licks and call-and-response sections between the rasping, billowing electric guitar and – strangely – a mandolin, plus a rousing gang vocal for good measure. The third track, Agent Z, is a real stand out for me. It slinks its way through a Moontrekkers-esque riff into some really heavy sections and brings up a strong whiff of that galactic vibe I mentioned.

We’re then, sadly transported all too soon to the final track, Octavius. This is the lead single from the EP with an accompanying video. Octavius allows a little more space into its arrangement than the other tracks but nevertheless boasts just as much flair, style and attitude and brings the EP to a nice close, fading out with an orchestra of beeping machinery.

I could imagine in a live scenario where these tunes were played then things could get a bit lively … and if you want to see just how lively it can get, you can catch The Zipheads along with the outstanding X-Ray Cat Trio and the exceptional Jay Vee & the Cardinal Sins at the Black Heart, Camden on the 16th February for the official EP launch. Failing that, The Zipheads have hinted that this is just the first in a series of similar releases. You’d do well to pick up a copy and start your collection of these no doubt soon-to-be classic records.

Review by Tim Loud.

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