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The Fantastic Plastic Machine  | © Lowell and Eric Blum
The Fantastic Plastic Machine | © Lowell and Eric Blum
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Add These Surf Rock Classics To Your Beach Soundtrack

Picture of Marnie Sehayek
Updated: 2 August 2016
With tightly knit, repetitious guitar riffs and a ton of reverb, the sounds of surf rock mirror the rollicking swells of the ocean. Though surf rockers have drawn musical inspiration from Anatolia to Spain, the genre’s reverence to surfing has made it somewhat synonymous with California, the mecca of mainland surf culture. In a matter of minutes, the twang of these tunes will transport you to the sunny shores of the best coast. Better yet, give this list a listen on the way to your favorite break.

‘Misirlou’ by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones

Dick Dale is widely regarded as the father of surf rock, pioneering a new genre drawing on Middle-Eastern keys and a recognizable staccato picking style. ‘Misirlou’ was catapulted into fame when Quentin Tarantino cast it as the theme song to his 1994 cult classic, Pulp Fiction.

‘Malagueña’ by The Trashmen

Written in 1928 by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, ‘Malagueña’ was conceived for his magnum opus, The Andalucia Suite. The song has been reimagined in a variety of musical contexts, performed by full orchestras, pianists, flamenco guitarists, and surf rockers who crank up the reverb, like this classic rendition by The Trashmen.

‘Cheater Stomp’ by The Fabulous Playboys

‘Cheater Stomp’ is replete with the tame ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that marked letting loose in the early 60s, high-strung finger-picking, and an incessant snare drum line. Picture yourself shimmy-shaking beachside to this tune.

‘Rising Surf’ by Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers

Richie Allen’s languid licks mimic waves lapping the seashore, accompanied by the sounds of the waves breaking and seagulls chirping. The rolling, repetitive riff is pensive and woozy, perfect for daydreaming about your next break.

‘Pipeline’ by The Chantays

Named for the infamous, yet irresistible, break on Hawaii’s North Shore, the slow, gradual build of ‘Pipeline’ resembles the anticipation and drama of a surf challenge many greats have ridden to victory.

‘Walk, Don’t Run’ by The Ventures

This is one of The Ventures’ most famous songs, named after their eponymous first album. The group went on to record a hit version of ‘Hawaii Five-O.’ With over 100 million records sold – 40 million of which were sold in Japan – the band is the best-selling instrumental group of all time.

‘Lost Soul’ by The Strangers

This soulful jam by Aussie band The Strangers is like the sonic version of the sun dipping into the ocean or the sweet haze that clings to your skin like salt after a long day at the beach.

‘Bustin’ Surfboards’ by The Tornadoes

The sounds of surf ebb and flow through The Tornadoes’ classic and best-known track. Unable to follow up on their initial success, this is the tune music history remembers them by.

‘Mr. Moto’ by The Bel-Airs

The famous flamenco-inspired guitar intro and the iconic piano interlude have made ‘Mr. Moto’ a mainstay of the surf genre. Despite their highfalutin namesake, the band hailed from Long Beach, California.