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CD Review: Matt Hurray “Egyptian Surfer”

After spending time in the California-based band Just Plain Big, guitarist Matt Hurray wanted to stretch his creativity and make his own music. In 2011, Hurray entered the studio to record his first solo album. That album is called Egyptian Surfer.

On Egyptian Surfer, Matt Hurray takes time to explore several different styles of music, though he spends the most time playing instrumental surf tunes. The album begins with one such surf instrumental called “C+H Girls”.

“C+H Girls” is a song that brings to mind the instrumental rock bands from the sixties, especially the Rock Hall members The Ventures. The solid rock sound of the first track will have many rock fans thinking back to times gone by when instrumental bands could be found on the radio airwaves playing their brand of rock and roll and rock guitarists were able to show off their talents on the guitar. With this track, Matt Hurray gives the listener just a sample of his abilities on the guitar.

With the track “Peninsula Prowl,” Hurray seems to summon the talents of guitarist like Link Wray and Dick Dale. In fact, this track has a sound that will remind many people of Dick Dale’s numerous hits, while Hurray’s playing is very much influenced by Dale’s playing style.

The third track off of Egyptian Surfer finds the album’s style changing dramatically. While the first two tracks are rock-oriented, “Sunset Gammon” features a smooth jazz feel. This smooth jazz track slows the pace down and takes the listener into a more relaxed setting, sort of like being on a beach at sunset.

Egyptian Surfer from Matt Hurray continues with the title track. The fourth track of the album brings the energy level back up and also brings the surf feel back on the aptly-named “Egyptian Surfer,” as well as on the next track of “Nose Rider”. In fact, it’s hard not to imagine scenes of surfers riding the waves off the coasts of California or Hawaii as you listen to these tracks.

On the track “Las Olas,” Hurray once again lightens the feel of the music. While the earlier track of “Sunset Gammon” slowed the pace of the music down, Hurray keeps the energy level up on a track the features the sounds of the acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is a nice contrast to the electric guitar that Hurray gravitates to for the majority of the songs on this album.

For the release of Egyptian Surfer, Matt Hurray calls on the talents of drummer Gary Ferguson and multi-instrumentalist Jim Rice to help fill out the sound for the album. It is on the track “No Parking,” however, that the three musicians are joined by keyboard players Eric Vinje and Danny Timms. While still containing that surf rock feel, the keyboards from Vinje and Timms also give the track a little flavor. This gives “No Parking” a slightly different feeling than the rest of the album.

While the majority of the new release from Matt Hurray has a very distinct feeling to it because of the surf instrumentals, there are instances during the release where Hurray changes the pace of the music, like on the aforementioned “Sunset Gammon”. Another instance where the pace of the music changes is on the track “Doheny Daze”; while not a smooth jazz piece like “Sunset Gammon,” “Doheny Daze” does slow the pace down. This track also features some vocalizing from Hurray and Jim Rice. While Hurray and Rice don’t actually sing on this track, their vocals do add texture to the music of the track.

The title of Matt Hurray’s 2012 solo release of Egyptian Surfer seems to have been wisely chosen. While the surf motif on the album is very obvious, the release was also put together in such a way that the peaks and valleys made by the various tracks on the album help to create “waves” from the energy levels from each track on the release; so much so, the listener can imagine riding the waves back to shore as the final song of “Aloha” finishes out the album.

For a solo debut release, Matt Hurray’s Egyptian Surfer is very well-rounded. And with the different approaches to the music on the album, there is much for the listener to discover and enjoy. The album never gets stale and keeps the listener wanting more.

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