Surf rock as a subgenre emerged from southern California's music scene in the late '50s and early '60s. It quickly found a dichotomy in its style, with half of the genre composed of tight vocal harmonies and upbeat sounds and the other half marked by extremely distorted "wet" sounding electric guitars.
Therefore, it's no surprise that the subgenre has become synonymous with summertime, and in the spirit of the approaching season, here's a list of surf-rock songs to get you ready for summer:
"The W.A.N.D." by The Flaming Lips
"The W.A.N.D." starts strong with a heavily distorted guitar, sounding similar to a boat horn. It then descends into a fury of drumming and instrumental guitar accompanied by vocals taking the backseat, allowing the same distortion to take front and center for the entirety of the song.
"Miserlou" by Dick Dale
"Miserlou" is considered to be one of the first surf-rock songs. Initially a folk song from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, it was redone by Dick Dale in the early '60s after seeing his Lebanese-American uncle play it. It was sped up on a distorted guitar and released to an American audience, where it was covered by artists such as the Beach Boys and the Trashmen and later sampled by the Black Eyed Peas for its song "Pump It."
"Surfin' U.S.A" by The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys were some of the biggest players in the surf music craze of the 1960s, so it's not much of a surprise that they ended up on this list. Specifically, its 1963 hit song "Surfin' U.S.A." encapsulated the spirit of the genre through tight harmonies and beachy lyrics, making it a great song to get you ready for summer.
"Dope on a Rope" by The Growlers
Since 2006, the Growlers have become known as a surf rock band for the modern era. None of its songs exemplify this more than "Dope on a Rope," filled with distorted vocals and an easygoing alt-rock vibe that has become quintessential to the genre's modern style.
"Happy Together" by The Turtles
While the Turtles' "Happy Together" is not necessarily traditional surf music, it feels like one. For one thing, the 1960s origin of the song adds a surf-style influence, specifically through the tight harmonies and overall bright, upbeat style of the song.