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The Surfrajettes’ Roller Fink pays homage to 1960s surf rock

Canadian quartet mixes originals with covers on terrific debut album.
The Surfrajettes -- Roller Fink album cover art

THE SURFRAJETTES
ROLLER FINK
Hi-Tide Recordings (LP)
★★★★

By John Curley

Formed in late 2015 in Toronto, The Surfrajettes have honed an outstanding surf-rock sound with reverb-heavy guitars and bass and rock-and-roll drums. They also dress in retro style when performing, with beehive hairdos, go-go boots and heavy eyeliner. The band is comprised of guitarists Shermy Freeman and Nicole Damoff, bassist Sarah Butler and drummer Samantha Maloney. (Dani Nash played drums on the album.)

This excellent debut LP follows the release of several singles by the band. Containing a good mix of originals and covers, it showcases the band’s great vintage sound. The vast majority of the album is instrumental with some brief vocal bits thrown in. The album was produced by Colin Cripps and engineered by Tim Veseley at The Woodshed in Toronto.

The Surfrajettes are (left to right) drummer Samantha Maloney, guitarist Nicole Damoff, guitarist Shermy Freeman and bassist Sarah Butler.

The Surfrajettes are (left to right) drummer Samantha Maloney, guitarist Nicole Damoff, guitarist Shermy Freeman and bassist Sarah Butler.

The album's theme is "Friday night at the roller rink." The intro to the album is a brief clip of sounds of people at the roller rink with a public-address announcement encouraging people to get a treat from the snack bar and put in their requests at the DJ booth. It sets the tone for the album’s retro, surf-rock sound. “Warm Up” features surf guitar and bass with light drumming. “Couch Surfing” includes some terrific guitar work by Freeman and Damoff. “Salty Sister” is a rumbling kind of song in which the drumming meshes perfectly with the trebly guitars. “Slush Puppy” is an uptempo song that includes a brief spoken-word bit toward the end of the track by the public-address announcer that was also heard in the album’s intro. The album’s title track is a fast-paced rocker with intricate guitar picking and solid drumming. “Priscilla,” probably the best of the album’s originals, is a slower-paced smooth song with trebly guitars and bass. The intro to “Snowball” again features the sounds of people at the roller rink and the public-address announcer imploring those that want to dance to “Grab a partner.” The album closer, “Snowball,” is a slower-paced song that is quite nice and features good work by all four members of the band.

There are five covers on the album. The take on Nick Gilder’s “Roxy Roller” is a slower, atmospheric song that contains some brief spoken-word vocals. The cover of Richard Podolor’s “Surfer’s Slide” is guitar driven with some nice drumming. The version of Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept A Rollin’” is fantastic, and it features some nice guitar work in the intro before the full band kicks in. It also includes a brief, ecstatic vocal bit with the band singing “Looking so good I couldn’t let her go!” The take on Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” is quite fun, with its trebly guitars and snare-driven drums. And the cover of The Beatles’ “She Loves You” highlights Freeman’s and Damoff’s guitars.

The Surfrajettes 3

One of the best things about his album is that it gets the retro feel so right that it actually sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1960s. It’s quite enjoyable and a must have for fans of the surf-rock sound.

“Priscilla” can be heard below:

The cover of “Train Kept A Rollin’” can be heard below:

In the video below, The Surfrajettes’ guitarists Shermy Freeman and Nicole Damoff unveil and discuss the Roller Fink album: