Monday, February 1, 2016

Genki Genki Panic - "Ghoulie High Harmony" REVIEWS

Rue Morgue #157

Echoing the mondo-weirdo retro vibe of spook n surf greats The Ghastly Ones and Satan's Pilgrims, Chattanooga TN's Genki Genki Panic revels in reverb soaked instrumentals that reference the macabre with cheeky winks and nudges, and competent, inventive instrumentation. With an exotic, tiki meets belly dance rhythm and Carpenter-esque solos, "Camp Crystal Lake" re-envisions Friday The 13th as a 60's spy thriller directed by Quentin Tarantino circa 1996, while "976-EVIL" thrills more with its uptempo I'm-being-stalked-by-something-terrible urgency than the song's namesake movie ever could. Featuring sly titles such as "HPV Lovecraft", "The Spectrophiliac", and "Your Body Is A Wasteland", plus attitude and atmosphere to spare, Ghoulie High Harmony will bring all the ghost in invisible bikinis down to your horror hangout.                      Rating 4 out of 5


First off, not the music I had expected that serial misanthrope and friend of the blog, Chris (last name withheld for legal reasons) would come out with as the follow up to the criminally underrated Uncle Touchy's scraping hardcore noise rock. Second off, I underestimated just how great of a guitar player Chris really is...dude can work it out.
So, just what exactly IS this foreign and unexpected music? Try, instrumental surf rock with a pronounced horror theme and a darker influence. Like, if Link Wray was paying tribute to the golden beaches of southern California, Genki Genki Panic is paddling out in the muddy toxic soup of southern New Jersey. No tiki dolls and girls in bikini's, unless it's the Bride of Frankenstein choking out Gidget in the shore break.

What I like the most on this record is that you can tell the band has punk roots, and you hear the Agent Orange, or Rocket From The Crypt styled frenetic energy pulsing out of each serpentine guitar run. On the surface, it's good time fun music, cowabunga and all that, but just below the water line there's a scum covered sea monster lurking to pull you off your board and into the black depths.
Beyond your Dick Dales, and Ventures, and Duane Eddy's and the aforementioned Dick Dale, I'm not too versed in this music, so I'm not sure if there isn't an underground current that Genki Genki Panic have tapped into. Probably is I suppose, but for someone who doesn't usually listen to it, this record is an adrenaline shot that I found highly enjoyable. It's no novelty, it's legit shit.
Also, points for the Boyz II Men reference.


Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy the aesthetics of Halloween way more than Christmas, which is why there’s Genki cover (3)usually some ghoulish decoration still lingering around the home come January. I no longer pretend it’s laziness. I’ll just admit my weakness for most things creepy. So when Genki Genki Panic sent me their musical (s)care package I had the warm fuzzy feeling of abject terror go through my veins.

Genki Genki Panic are another really fun, landlocked, instrumental surf rock band. From Chatanooga, Tennessee, this band is perfect for your haunted tiki bar and related witchy goings on.
“The Munge” is all muscle and brawn, throwing elbows as it pushes through a crowd before taking on all comers in a bare knuckle free for all. “Drag the Lake” is a hang ten, classic drop in sort of surf number. “Camp Crystal Lake” references the Friday the 13th film franchise and is nice for being more restrained. It holds tension and swells and pulses like your heartbeat as you wait to scream “Don’t go in there!” in a crowded theater. “Your Body is a Wasteland” drives and moves like a zombie chomping down and getting it’s first taste of brains. The punkishly quick “976-EVIL” is my favorite track. Two catchy riffs and a driving rhythm propel this forward with God knows what on your heels, but you don’t dare look back.

This two man act from the spooky hollers (suburbs?) of Tennessee bear considerable watching. For one they’re really good. And for two, they are up to no good. Let’s hope they continue to entertain the dark and nepharious thoughts which have clouded their minds and brought them to this point. And may this mental unrest continue to plague them for a long time to come.



Chattanooga-based Genki Genki Panic has carved out their own corner in an already niche genre. With just two members—“Chancho” and “El Fatsquatch”—Genki Genki Panic produces a quirkily fun album that wades around in the dark and strange, but still occasionally meanders into the sunlight for a breath. All in all, Ghoulie High Harmony is an album I’d never expect to hear in 2015—because sometimes you forget about a type of music. But Genki Genki Panic’s Ghoulie High Harmony is here to make you remember.

The album is filled with song titles like “HPV Lovecraft” and “Sexting the Dead” that give it that eerily playful feel. The song I’m most immediately drawn to is “Camp Crystal Lake.” The staccato guitar rhythms are mirrored by the bass, and a dark dissonance plays on top of the whole thing. The drums sit in the back with hi-hat grooves and interwoven tom-toms.

“Camp Crystal Lake” is the only song on the album with a guitar solo, and even that only lasts for half a minute, but it feels great in the midst of the riff-laden album.

Ghoulie High Harmony is a strong first effort by Genki Genki Panic. The album is uniform in purpose and precise in execution. Reigniting the surfer-rock genre with a classic horror movies twist is something that’s not been done before, and these guys are doing it well.

The album is quick, dark and fun. Here’s hoping Genki Genki Panic transfers their album efforts to a live stage—Halloween’s not too far away.


Genki Genki Panic makes "instrumental horror surf," or so their Bandcamp page would have you believe. True to their word, that's exactly what you get when you listen to their new release, "Ghoulie High Harmony," which the band released in March (there was also a "director's cut" of the album released in April). From the page's Universal Monsters picture and video game backdrop, you get the feeling that the band doesn't take themselves too seriously, though the music never comes across as half-formed or haphazardly constructed.

Spiked with rippling surf riffs and a thudding percussive backbone, this record feels simultaneously self-contained and expansive, as if the music were wound tightly around a series of nimble rhythms but loosened with just a quick flick of a guitar pick, sending jagged shards of guitar lines and chest-rattling drums off in all directions. It's easy to get lost in all the quick detours and back alleyways that the band drags you through, but in no time, you're back on the main road, looking in the rearview mirror and wondering what just happened.


What makes good surf music? Is it enough to be competent? Is it enough to come up with clever song titles like “HPV Lovecraft”? Personally, I need more. I need a band to take a few steps away from those old Dick Dale clichés and give me something I haven’t heard. Otherwise it’s just pleasant background music while I do the dishes. On the first few songs on this disc, Genki Genki Panic goes through the surf checklist and then start to add their own stamp, like the weird groove they lay down on “Sexting the Dead” or the creepy wailing that cries out from “Slaughterhouse ‘69.” Things get darker as the disc progresses, and it becomes clear that this isn’t the same old surf.  –MP Johnson

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