Heavy Metal Without Distortion: The New Wave of Surf Music

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of heavy metal music, you’ll love the new wave of surf music that’s been making waves lately. This new genre is characterized by its heavy, distorted sound, and it’s perfect for fans of metal who are looking for something a little different. Check out some of the best new surf metal bands and see what all the fuss is about!

Introducing the New Wave of Surf Music

In the early 2000s, a new sound began to emerge from the beaches of Southern California. This new sound, a blend of heavy metal and surf rock, would come to be known as the New Wave of Surf Music. Bands like The Aquabats, Dodge Dart, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre would pioneer this new sound, and it would go on to influence a new generation of surfers and musicians.

The sound of the new wave of surf music

The new wave of surf music is typified by its clean, often bright guitar tone, and is frequently compared to the sound of early heavy metal without distortion. This subgenre of surf music arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s, spearheaded by groups such as Los Straitjackets, The Surfaris, and The Aquatudes.

One of the defining characteristics of the new wave of surf music is its use of reverb-drenched guitars to create a “wet” sound. This effect was first popularized by Duane Eddy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was further developed by artists such as Dick Dale and The Ventures. However, while the new wave of surf music shares this sonic similarity with its predecessors, it also features a more upbeat tempo and a greater focus on melody.

Although it has yet to achieve mainstream recognition, the new wave of surf music has been praised by critics for its innovative approach to the genre. In particular, many see this subgenre as a welcome return to the roots of surf music, which were typified by bands such as The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. If you’re a fan of vintage surf rock or are simply looking for something new to listen to, be sure to check out some of the new wave of surf bands today!

The artists leading the new wave of surf music

While the roots of surf music can be traced back to the early 1960s, the new wave of surf music is being led by a fresh crop of artists who are taking the sound in new and exciting directions. From lo-fi indie rockers to experimental electronic producers, these artists are expanding the sonic palette of surf music and pushing it into new and fascinating territory.

Some of the most exciting artists leading the charge include Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Cuco, who blends dreamy ’60s pop with modern R&B; San Diego-based slacker rock band Wavves, who add a heavy dose of distortion and fuzz; and Orange County-based indie rockers Best Coast, who infuse their sun-soaked tunes with a healthy dose of nostalgia.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of surf music or just getting acquainted with the genre, these artists are definitely worth checking out. So grab your board, wax up your surfboard, and get ready to ride the waves of the new wave of surf music.

The History of Surf Music

Surf music began in the early 1960s in Southern California. The first surf song is generally considered to be “Surfin'” by The Beach Boys. The genre was popularized by groups such as The Ventures and Dick Dale. Surf music is typically characterized by its twangy guitar sounds and energetic melodies.

The origins of surf music

The Beach Boys, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, and The Ventures defined the original sound of surf music in the early 1960s. The Beach Boys — whose “Surfin'” (1962) is considered the first surf song — avoided using heavy reverb and distortion, which became hallmarks of the genre. They instead used a “dry” sound with close-miked vocals and clean guitars that were meant to imitate the sound of waves crashing on the shore.

The evolution of surf music

The sound of waves crashing against a surfboard has long been associated with the sound of rock and roll, but the genre of music known as surf music actually predates the advent of rock by several years.

The first wave of surf music began in the early 1960s, when groups like The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean popularized the sound with hits like “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surf City.” The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was a major force in shaping the sound of surf music, adding elements of pop and R&B to the mix.

The sound of surf music changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as bands began to experiment with distorted guitars and feedback. This new wave of surf music is often referred to as “garage surf” or “punk surf.” Bands like The Ramones and The Ventures were early proponents of this sound.

The popularity of surf music declined in the late 1970s and 1980s, but it experienced a resurgence in the 1990s with the release of albums like Pulp Fiction (1994) and Surf Ninjas (1993). More recently, bands like Wavves and Best Coast have been credited with revitalizing interest in surf music.

The New Wave of Surf Music

The new wave of surf music is characterized by its lack of distortion and its focus on clean tones and reverb-drenched guitars. This new sound is a return to the classic surf music of the 1960s, but with a modern twist. The new wave of surf music is led by such bands as Surf Punks, The Aquabats, and Best Coast.

The sound of the new wave of surf music

The new wave of surf music is characterized by a return to the genre’s original reverb-drenched sound, as well as a focus on song craft and melody. This new wave of artists is bringing back the feel-good vibes and sun-soaked melodies that made surf music so popular in the first place. While the new wave of surf music may not have the same level of mainstream appeal as its ’60s predecessor, it’s still making waves with fans of all ages.

The artists leading the new wave of surf music

Though it’s more popular now than it has been in decades, surf music has been around since the early 1960s. The sound is created by a combination of electric guitars, drums, and occasionally other instruments like keyboards or horns, played to an open, reverbed sound. It’s often visually associated with images of sandy beaches, waves crashing against cliffs, palm trees blowing in the breeze, and so on. In recent years, the surf music sound has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to a new crop of artists who are taking the style in fresh new directions.

Some of the leading artists spearheading the new wave of surf music include:
-Wand: A Los Angeles-based band that formed in 2013, Wand creates a psychedelic brand of surf rock that has earned them comparisons to well-established acts like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees.
-Surf Curse: A Nevada-based duo whose winsome melodies and atmospheric soundscapes have drawn comparisons to ’80s goth bands like The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen.
-Slow Hollows: Also based in LA, Slow Hollows create a hazy brand of surf pop that is indebted to acts like Beach Fossils and Real Estate.

If you’re looking for something new to listen to with a sunny, summery vibe, be sure to check out these and other artists leading the new wave of surf music.

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