Balboa Island, CA based artist Matt Hurray knows a thing or two about surf music. Since he was a kid he’s been surfing himself, and the nostalgia of those good times and the music that went with it heavily influenced his career. Hurray played with a multitude of bands before deciding to pursue a solo project where the focus became instrumental surf music. He’s released multiple albums including Egyptian Surfer (2012), Unnecessary Commentary (2016), Eggnog Rock (2018), Bitchin! (2019). This year, Hurray released a full-length album titled ‘Nofre Nuggets, and it’s a truly authentic tribute to all of the surf rockers gone before him.
Hurray himself contributes guitar, vocals, and keys to the record. Also joining him are Jim Rice (guitar), Peter Freiberger (bass), Gary Ferguson (drums), Natalie Hurray (vocals), and Caitlyn Hurray (vocals). And if you’re curious (like we were) as to what ‘Nofre Nuggets actually means, Hurray has laid it out for us. ‘Nofre is slang for San Onofre Beach in California, and nuggets are either great waves, cool tunes, and/or beautiful girls. It’s a wildly appropriate title for an album that seems to bring to mind each of these things and then some. While this is a collection of cover tunes written in the 1960’s by some of the most accomplished musicians in this genre, Hurray and his band do these songs real justice and are clearly helping to keep surf rock music alive and well.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
The album opens with Pipeline, and it immediately showcases that Hurray brings all of the iconic pieces of surf rock to his interpretations of these songs – classic scrapes on an electric guitar, rapid-fire, high-energy percussion, alternating guitar pickings, and above all, that classic surf guitar tone, reminiscent of the likes of Dick Dale. Hurray’s renditions feel wonderfully retro in execution, but the clarity of the music doesn’t suffer for it.
And these are the characteristics that you’ll find across the record. Hurray stays true to the genre, and it lends him authenticity as a surf rock musican. There’s no need to push the envelope with experimentation or out-of-the-box thinking to play truly great surf rock music. Hurray truly exemplifies this, as he clearly knows how to perform to the standards his chosen genre and keeps that iconic surf rock sound as the absolute centerpiece of each and every one of his interpretations, while still adding in his own influence on the tracks.
Hurray’s rendition of Mr. Moto completely captures the essence of the original, seemingly due to in part his ability to duplicate these classic surf rock tones as well. We appreciate the slightly heavier but cleaner take on The Rising Surf, where the present-day production capabilites shine just a bit and allows a bit of modern flavor to seep through. And though this album is primarily instrumental, we are treated to the addition of just a handful of vocal oohs and ahhs in Endless Summer, which is a lovely addition to warm tones of the track.
And we’re altogether pleased to find the absolute surf rock classic Wipeout among the included tracks. For those who might not be familiar with the surf rock genre, listen to this one to feel the authenticity Hurray is bringing to the table (and drummer Gary Ferguson too – his chops are on full display here).
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
We’re treated to just one Matt Hurray original on this record – a rework off of his previous 2016 release Unnecessary Commentary. But when listening through the record, you might not be able to pick out the original among the rest because it so seamlessly blends with the rest of these iconic surf rock tracks – something that’s difficult to do in any genre, and an accomplishment worth mentioning. The song is titled 7th Street, and it seems to be an amalgamation of many of the other elements found on this record. It’s got energetic percussion, a catchy and melodic guitar line, and a ton of that classic surf feel that you’ve come to expect from Hurray by this point in the album. While his covers in this project are all undoubtedly excellent, this inclusion of an original shows that his skills go beyond just performance, and it has us excited to dive further into his original catalog.
If you’re looking for authentic surf rock ‘n roll, this is it. Matt Hurray has shown that he can capture the tones and intricacies of this genre at the highest level. This is rockin’, beachy, retro fun that instantly transports you to a seaside boardwalk in the 1960s. If you’re a fan of this genre, ‘Nofre Nuggets is unquestionably for you.
BELOW: Listen to ‘Nofre Nuggets and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Matt Hurray by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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