The Fuzziyama Surfers- Wild Echizen
Review by: Clark Starace
Japan has long had a love affair with Surf music. In the 1960’s, bands like The Ventures and The Astronauts were extraordinarily popular in Japan, even putting out live albums(ex. The Ventures- Live In Japan ‘65) from tours there and issuing singles/EP’s specifically made for a Japanese audience. Since then, I think outside of Southern California, there’s probably no place else in the world with such a deep appreciation for the genre. In fact, when the Fender Jaguar (a guitar synonymous with Surf music) was taken out of production by the American company in 1975, where did it first resume production in the mid-1980’s? Japan. Fender wouldn’t put out another American made version of the guitar until 1999, so for 14 years, Japan was the only country producing the iconic model.
It should come as no surprise then that there’s plenty of great surf bands that call Japan home, but this review is specifically about the newest one to catch my ear; The Fuzziyama Surfers of Nagoya, Japan and their incredible new LP Wild Echizen.
The Fuzziyama Surfers are clearly well versed in traditional Surf music and it’s obvious that’s the vibe they’re going for here on this debut record. They pull it off incredibly well and it’s a joy of record to listen to. The Dick-Dale style “double-picking” riffs are played with amazing machine-gun precision and there’s wonderful, playful guitar melodies all over the whole record. The drums rip and roll with fury (especially in the record opener “Fuzziyama Wave”) and the bass bounces and grooves throughout. They include keyboard/electric organ which further enhances that 60’s period-correct vibe. They get dark and moody at times (like in my personal favorite “Blob Dance”) and seem to have an understanding and appreciation for horror-surf (which dates all the way back to The Munsters theme song and tracks like “The Hearse” and “The Devil’s Driver” by The Astronauts.)
The guitar tones (let’s be honest, a HUGE part of any surf record!) are exquisite here and offer just the right amount of natural break up. It’s that slightly compressed sound when a clean guitar amp is turned just past it’s “comfort zone” and gets into that beautiful territory that Dick Dale referred to as the “blossom point”.It seems like the Fuzziyama Surfers live right in that blossom point throughout the entirety of record and it’s very pleasing for a discerning guitar nerd like myself. Before I even saw any pictures of the band, I imagined the guitarist was likely using a Jaguar through a blonde Fender amp with a Fender reverb tank. My theory was later confirmed after a quick YouTube search, and I felt weirdly satisfied about that.
The record comes courtesy of Otitis Media Records, which is quickly becoming a powerhouse of a label, issuing a dizzying amount of product (at least 50+ original Surf, Garage, Punk, Jazz and Psych releases at the time of writing) since opening shop in 2017. What’s even more impressive is the level of detail that goes into these physical products, often coming in beautiful color variants with great packaging and little extras. Wild Echizen is no exception, and is available in 3 stunning vinyl color variants (1.White/Red Color in Color, 2.Red/Yellow Half/Half w/ Black Splatter and 3. Red/White Half/Half w/ Black Splatter). Buy one today, because the surf is definitely up in Japan!