Tijuana Panthers – Max Baker Tijuana Panthers – Max Baker

Tijuana Panthers - Max Baker

Tijuana Panthers - Max Baker

Tijuana Panthers – Creature

It’s mid-July in Long Beach.  A perfect south swell sends corduroy lines stretching flawlessly down the point.  A beach full of bangin’ Betties watch from behind their oversized sunglasses as you step gracefully to the nose of your 9’8″ single fin longboard, wrapping all ten toes over the nose as you arch your back and watch glassy liquid skim under your feet – your version of walking on water.  The pier draws closer, the wave prepares to close out and you step off into the shin deep shore break allowing your board to wash smoothly onto the sand.  Your boys hoot as they approach you from the beach, one picks up your board and paddles out, another hands you an ice cold beer.  You crack your brew as you walk past a gaggle of gossiping Gidgets towards the bushes where a not-so-low-profile joint would set everything right.  Soon your sunburned arm is hanging out the window of a ’67 woody as you cruise south on the coast highway.  Salt air in your face, sand on your feet, tanned Tammy on your lap.  Life is good…and getting better.  Except it’s not the 70s, it’s 2010 and you’re listening to Tijuana Panthers’ new album Max Baker.

Listening to the third track, appropriately entitled ‘Summer Fun’, you somehow feel that the Tijuana Panthers know your future and have created this album specifically for this moment in your life.  You’re living the dream; you’re loving the dream.  It’s a moment that will serve you well in the future, because even when the shit hits the fan you can always relive this moment when you drank deeply of life’s nectar and remember that rare taste…and the Tijuana Panthers were part of it.

In the crowded lineup of emerging California bands, Tijuana Panthers surf their own peak, soul-arching their way into the barrel of a forgotten genre.  The idea of ‘surf music’ is somewhat nebulous and sometimes controversial.  It seems that any type of music that is culturally associated with surfing has been loosely referred to as ‘surf music’.  Swelling from the slack-key exoticism of Hawaiian music, resting with the Californicated reverb guitar riffs of Dick Dale, The Lively Ones and The Ventures before being ridden and exploited by pop culture and washing up on the Beach Boys, surf rock seemed to dissipate.  With the advent of high energy ’90s surf videos catalyzing the California punk music scene, Taylor Steele’s dominantly popular surf movies dictated that decades take on the genre. Consisting of bands such as Pennywise, Blink 182, Unwritten Law, and Strung Out, ‘surf music’ seemed to be more pop punk. Then in the early 2000s the idea of surf music has underwent a significant lull coupled with indecisiveness when the culture started indulging in everything from Jack Johnson to Justice.

Here it seems the TJ Panthers are ready to take the genre back to glory. The Panthers describe themselves as ‘barbershop surf pop’, but I call it ‘surf music’ in hopes that maybe these guys can reclaim the wayward genre. I’m hopeful they can represent a coup in the lost genre because the new album Max Baker draws on all of the exciting and lovable qualities of classic surf music while leaving out the things that caused it to die. TJ Panthers seem to have learned from aforementioned artists. Take the upbeat, idyllic attitude of The Ventures without the unbearable repetition.  The aggressive guitar riffs of The Lively Ones and The Tornadoes without the gratuitous reverb.  The dreamy harmonized vocals of The Beach Boys threaded with the raw authenticity of Buddy Holly.

Tijuana Panthers – Redheaded Girl

That being said, I am a surfer which is why I inevitably make a direct association with this music and the spirit of surfing, but you don’t have to walk on water to enjoy Tijuana Panthers.  They embody true ‘surf music’ because they transcend the niche of the culture.  As with any good music the Panthers’ album Max Baker takes a sound, an ideal, a lifestyle and translates it into the universal medium of music so that anyone in the world can live the California dream. They purvey a fantasy that has permeated American culture for decades and reminds everyone that the dream is still is alive. Their straight up music style lets me know there are waves on the horizon, chicks on the beach and beers in the cooler.  Taste the nectar.

The Point: There’s a bonfire on the beach tonight and the Tijuana Panthers are playing.  Be there or be square.

Tijuana Panthers – Max Baker via bandcamp for $10

Tijuana Panthers – Max Baker -Track List:

1. Creature
2. Bainbridge
3. Summer Fun
4. New Boots
5. Tijuana Two-Step
6. Red Headed Girl
7. Angie
8. Crew Cut
9. Don’t Shoot Your Guns
10. This Town
11. Don’t Give A Damn
12. Girls Gone Wild
13. Prayer Needs

Tijuana Panthers - Max Baker, reviewed by Wedsie on 2010-11-16T14:37:03-08:00 rating 4.2 out of 5

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