What about European bands who take a stab at that distinctly American art form, surf music? Kill Van Helsing, are perfectly adept at re-creating the treble-y snazz of the early ‘60s surf groups and throw in a little b-movie horror schtick in for a little extra flavor. This ain’t the whiter-than-Wonder-bread sound of the big label California groups, this is the sound of an Orange County garage being shaken to its foundation by four young punk kids who haven’t yet discovered a mixing board. Granted, the garage is in Somerset, England and the highest waves the members have ever seen are the two-inch breakers of the cold, cold Atlantic. But the end product resonates with a gritty enthusiasm that should dispel the reservations of even the most skeptical ear. Like a lot of surf groups, the band is at their best in the studio (the second half of Alien Hotrod is live and features a weak cover of “Baby Please Don’t Go”). Still, they should be worth checking out when they come to Hollywood later this year.
–eric (Western Star)