The Manatees at first glance come across as just another surf group yet deserve to be examined a bit closer. With the bulk of their material being instrumental guitar-rooted music, one could easily say that puts the Manatees in the ranks of multiple surf-based bands. What separates the Manatees is their unique song structure and complexity of the material they write and perform on Snackin' With the Manatees. On "Mendoza," one gets to experience the band's expert use of multiple time signature changes and melodic passages. The gradual addition of each instrument at the onset of the tune proves to be the first hook, followed by many other hooks. "Immigration," which begins with a Latin twist, progresses through multiple facades before returning to the original Latin flavor. This serves to have a hypnotic effect, capturing the listener into the band's tangled web. "Batman," one of the three covers from the 18 songs on the album, is sure to be a favorite with the dance crowd. The great dance groove and unique lead instrumental passages tend to lift this interpretation into the ranks of elite cover tunes. The use of guitar, instead of the original trumpet, as the prime focus proves to be a winning choice in the presentation. The Manatees are made up of an extremely tight rhythm section which is capable of changing tempo at the drop of a hat. The two guitarists who undertake the mission of inserting the melodic hooks do so with the expertise of true masters of their craft. Phil Bentz, one of the guitarists, brings the theremin, ukuele, mandolin, and lap steel into the mix when the need arises. These small nuances he brings to the board are many times one of the creative hooks which separate the Manatees from the typical surf group. With close to a solid hour of great instrumental guitar-rooted music, Snackin' With the Manatees is sure to be a treasured addition to any surf music collection. One need not be a surf music lover to appreciate this album, all one needs is the urge to hear rock music at its instrumental best.
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AllMusic Review by Larry Belanger