|Surfin! At The Sinbad, The Fabulous Plank-Tones
El Toro Records ETCD5010
It's not everyday I review a surf album. The actual reason for that is that there are many resources available on the internet (like Reverb Central) that do a far better job at reviewing surf music than I could ever do. But the surfsound was (and still is) an important part of musical history that found its roots in the late 50s and early 60s and therefor it definitely deserves some attention on our website and newsletter. When my friend Carlos Diaz from El Toro records sent me this new Plank-Tones album, I thought it would be nice to do kind of a review, especially because it's the band's debut album (apart from a CDR Demo they distributed themselves) and because I happen to like this album a lot myself.
The Fabulous Plank-Tones play the indigenous surf and instrumental sounds of their native Southern California. The band hails from the south-west suburbia known as Glendale, where they receive a direct, though long traveled, ocean breeze that fights its way from the Santa Monica Pier, down the old Route 66, parting the smog from L.A., continuing between the San Fernando and San Gabriel mountain ranges, finally arriving at the garage of drummer Art Chianello. And from the deep sea air it is where the four piece combo derives thier inspiration. The Plank-Tones were originally formed in 1984 by brothers Marty, Jim and Kevin Tippens on guitars and bass along with drummer Art Chianello. Jon Green joined on bass and guitar in 1998, while Kevin attended to his new family commitments. Over the years, they have appeared on several surf music compilation CD's including "Fiberglass Jungle", "That's New Pussycat" and "Better than Average Weekend". They can most often be found performing at various beach venues including the renowned Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, Rusty's Surf Ranch, and Long Beach's Foothill Club. The CD title "Surfin'at the Sinbad" refers to the nickname of a converted motel that is now a studio where they rehearse and record in Hollywood California.
The sound of The Plank-Tones is mostly based upon the original surfsound from the sixties, mixed with modern instro influences in colorful hi-fi stereo. Most of the songs are Plank-Tones originals, written by the Tippens Brothers. The one-and-a-half-minute opener "Man From P.L.A.N.K." surely reminds of the fabulous 60s TV series "Man From U.N.C.L.E." and with it's fast drum rhythms and rolling twangy guitars, it sets the pace for what is to come. Reverb Central wrote about "Davy Jones' Locker": "Thick oceanic instro, with a plundering plodding rhythm, accented by swimming chords and and picturesque twang. Mid tempo burial at sea sounds, with a sadness and a savvy sway. It's relentless, and minimal, yet it has a magnetism that keeps your attention throughout." See, you can't beat a surf review like that, I would first have to learn the languange :-)
By releasing their debut album on El Toro Records (Spain), the band is assured of worldwide attention and distribution through Hepcat (US), Sonic (Holland), Nervous (UK), Enviken (Sweden) and Vampirella (Germany). Can you think of a better place to start your musical career? Give these guys a spin, you won't regret it!
The Fabulous Plank-Tones are: