Krill Slippin'

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Although the Mermen are trying to stave off being pigeonholed into any one musical genre -- like almost every band in the world looking to have a lengthy career, that is -- the San Francisco-based instrumental trio's first album is probably as close to traditional surf music as they get. Filled with not much more than Jim Thomas' burgeoning guitar skills and Allan Whitman's and Martyn Jones' relatively static backing rhythms, Krill Slippin' isn't packed with as many experimental eye-openers as the brilliant A Glorious Lethal Euphoria, Songs of the Cows, or the wildly diverse Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show. But not to worry, there are a few glimpses of their future proficiency on hand here, especially considering that you have 16 songs to choose from. The disc's finest track, "Kaena," may or may not be a poignant paean to the leeward side of Oahu where the sun, sand, and marine life fill your senses, but it sure feels like it. A rumbling, atmospheric trip through an imagined paradise, "Kaena" (like most of the songs on Krill Slippin') takes you straight from the headphones to the geography. Such mind trips are common when the Mermen are at the top of their musical game. And while this phenomenon doesn't occur here with the regularity it does on the hushed Amazing California Health and Happiness Road Show or the sonic ferocity of A Glorious Lethal Euphoria, ditties like the jaunty "Ocean Beach" and "Neptune's Revenge," the wistful "Sand" and "Abalone Daze," or the hang-ten jam of "Soul Surfin'" will have you reaching for the sunscreen no matter where you are. If you're looking for something to put on after you've worn out your Ventures records, Krill Slippin' will do the trick. If, however, you're looking for mind-blowing exercises in experimental surf groove, catch a wave to the Mermen's later work.

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