I saw Guantanamo Baywatch play at a Burgerville, a local fast food chain in Portland, all of which share the same 50s burger-and-a-milkshake aesthetic. As McDonald’s is known by its golden arches, Burgerville is known by its jukebox. It’s a real throwback kind of place, and they do pretty well buying from local farmers and selling as fresh of food as they can, but no mistaking; it is definitely a fast food joint, and being a fast food joint, you have to deal with certain limitations. Most notably, that your food may be delicious and local and sustainable, but it’s still a heart attack on a bun. And that’s okay, as long as you don’t try and act like you’re something you’re not.
Guantanamo Baywatch (local, farm-fresh, sustainable Portlanders) know exactly where they stand, in the middle of a genre that reached its own limitations sometime in the late 60s: surf rock. It’s impressive, then, how much their new album, Chest Crawl, sounds as fresh, new, and energetic as the genre probably did 50 years ago. And seeing this kind of thing against a backdrop of burgers, jukeboxes, and kids in cut-off jean shorts and tank-tops was about as proper a venue as our nostalgia-dipped current landscape could provide for a band so true to surf rock’s original trends.
Listen to the title track, “Chest Crawl,” below, buy the record over at Portland’s own Dirtnap Records, and enjoy it over a nice cheeseburger and Cherry Coke. I imagine it’s how the band would want it.