Prepare yourself for some of the most nefarious surf rock of your life from Atomic Drag’s self-titled debut EP.
From Northern Ireland comes Atomic Drag, with a surprisingly great four track EP of the darkest surf rock you’re going to hear this year.
The Atomic Drag project is the brain child of Lee McDaid, a punk influenced multi instrumentalist surf rock visionary.
The self titled EP is all instrumental, but don’t let that turn you off; there’s no long, meandering passages to bore you here.
Right off the rip, you’re taken on a journey of thick, verb drenched production, with carnivalesque horror synths, fat muffed out bass, and delay heavy guitar.
The quality rides that perfect line of being lo-fi while not sacrificing clarity or volume. Sound bytes & clips are interwoven throughout to break up the instrumental monotony, and they’re well done. Slipping in and out when needed, not at all distracting the listener from the core song underneath.
And did I mention dark?
While most surf rock tends to have that bright, almost lame rockabilly tinted edge to it, this work really tones it down with expertly crafted creepy interplay with the bass, drums, and keys.
With this foundation of mood to play with, the guitar is able to work its magic with all the usual trappings you’d expect from the surf genre: delay, hot licks, whammy swoops, and that tell-tale standard surf progression. By itself the guitar isn’t breaking new ground, but the mood, tonal shifts, and creativity of the bigger picture brings a fresh sound to what otherwise might be tired ears.
Focusing on the tracks themselves for a moment, McDaid did a good job of having them each stand on their own. The first being the more spooky of the bunch, the second being the dreary, almost dreamy track, and the third being the more kick in the balls heavy track. The fourth is a well done cover of a Surftones classic.
With only four relatively short tracks here, one of which is a cover, the only negative aspect to this offering was that I was left wanting more. Still, this is a great little EP for a quick workout, a drive to the petrol station, or as part of a mix for a good instrumental shake up. Highly recommended.
Atomic Drag’s self-titled debut EP is available to stream and download now. Check out the video for the first track off the record ‘Satan Built My Hotrod’ – that would be the spooky one.