Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake – Modern Surf Classics


Indie-rock guitar hero John Reis has had his hand in so many projects over the last two decades — most recently, last year’s returns of post-hardcore innovators Drive Like Jehu and big-band punk aesthetes Rocket From The Crypt — you’d think the guy might take it easy for awhile. Instead, he dives into another new project with a new sound: instrumental surf rock.

Joining forces with Minneapolis trio the Blind Shake, “Swami” John Reis has just released 13 original compositions of Modern Surf Classics, also the name of their album. All the hallmarks of this classic style are here: searching guitar solos, that driving backbeat, occasional bursts of saxophone raunch, and lots of drumrolls on the floor toms. With its mellow, one-dude-and-one-wave sense of solitude, the first single “Brown Room” illustrates the band’s fluency in the genre’s conventions — no doubt the product of Reis’ San Diego background. Elsewhere, as on opening track “Sea Saw” the album finds Swami John Reis and The Blind Shake adding their unique mojo. Reis slathers his guitar licks in his trademark buzzing tone, while the Blind Shake forego bass for a crunchy baritone guitar, resulting in something more racous, more punk, than the cool twang you might associate with surf rock. Reis and crew sound like they’re having a blast, and the mood is infectious.

Modern Surf Classics is out now on Swami Records.

2/12 — San Francisco, CA — Bottom of the Hill
2/13 — Los Angeles, CA — The Satellite
2/14 — Long Beach, CA — Alex’s Bar
2/15 — San Diego, CA — Casbah
2/19 — Minneapolis, MN — Turf Club
2/20 — Milwaukee, WI — Shank Hall
2/21 — Chicago, IL — Empty Bottle
2/25 — Brooklyn, NY — St. Vitus
2/26 — New York, NY — Mercury Lounge
2/27 — Washington, DC — Rock & Roll Hotel
2/28 — Philadelphia, PA — Underground Arts: Black Box