Vintage Guitar Magazine
Sandblasters DVD/CD combo- “Live From Texas” -2011 Mostly Harmless Music
When Nashville-based guitarist Mark Stultz led the Sandblasters in the mid/late ’90s, 16 live-in-studio performances by the Austin surf-instrumental trio were captured on cable TV in Waco and Austin. They’re presented here on DVD as well as a CD featuring audio of the same repertoire. Rounding out the band are Spencer Clarke on drums and Drew Shuller and Chris Happel swapping bass duties, and all of the material is original – either group or Stultz compositions. Stultz handles the demands of the trio format well, although another guitarist could provide a rhythmic bed and/or sonic alternative for solos.“Big Sky” has a galloping “Ghost Riders In The Sky” groove, while “Cactus Stingray” has a Southwestern, Fireballs feel. Stultz cranks up some high-sped tremolo for “Snake Shake,” indulging in a little Cosmonauts funk. (A bonus-track music video of the song pairs it with footage of a Mexican boxing match.) But “Flight P-51” sounds like a setup for a song that never really kicks in, and “Toothless Cannibal” is sort of a collection of surf clichés. Also, “Mookiest Limbo” borrows more than a little from “Boss” by the Rumblers, but not as much as “Body Bag” cops Link Wray. “Petrina,” on the other hand, has an upbeat, major key, background-to-Beach Party sound. Stultz alternates between a Strat and the “Jazzocaster” hybrid he built with Peavey’s Jim DeCola – combining a sculpted Tele body, maple neck, Thinline- inspired pickguard, Strat wang bar,= and “P-90 meets Jazzmaster” pickups. Stultz sets his Phase 100 to spin cycle for “Oyster Wax,” and the title of “Brutal Surfer” may refer to the way he throttles his wah pedal. The bongo-backed “Myan Sun Dance,” played on Mark’s ’47 Epiphone Broadway with pickguard mounted DeArmond, may have been the seed of his recent Sandgarden acoustic project.
– Dan Forte- Vintage Guitar Magazine
3rd CD Release: Jupiter Beach -Reviews…
A splendid collection of tracks from one of Austin’s most unique instrumental Surf bands. All tracks on this album are previously unissued.
A storming barrage of Power-Packed space-themed Instrumentals from Texas’ premier Surf Guitar Slingers. A great album of twangin’ tunes from a superb band led by guitar-ace Mark Stultz.
An all-instrumental attack from Texas’ premier guitar-slingers The Sandblasters, with space, sci-fi and super-hero themed surf-guitar instros much in the tradition of early Man Or Astroman?. Led by savage sounds from the guitar of Mark Stultz, ‘Jupiter Beach’ is the third Sandblasters album, and is a power-packed barrage of twangin’ tunes. This is a mixture of live and studio recordings.
The Sandblasters are Austin’s perennial surf trio, venturing farther out west and into space on tunes that combine the best of surf, space, and spaghetti westerns. Whatever your taste in instrumental rock’n’roll, The Sandblasters have it covered. Jupiter Beach (2002, Raucous Records) is a compilation of unreleased studio and live tracks that pre-date Cactus Stingray (1998, Wildebeest Records).”
Phil Dirt’s ‘Surf Heavies’, San Francisco, CA..
“This is a fine compilation of tracks from the formative years of one of Austin’s most unique instro bands. While all of the tracks on this disc are previously unreleased, some were circulated as demos in the early days. A splendid set of music, and well past due seeing the light of day!” Phil Dirt
2nd CD Release: Cactus Stingray -Reviews…
Phil Dirt’s ‘Surf Heavies’, San Francisco, CA..
Jalepeno Salsa Surf! Finally The Sandblasters make it to CD. This effort is quite good. The Sandblasters have an Austin Surf sound, meaning there’s the unmistakable Austin feel about it, and the Surf is the underlying current. Mark Stultz writes and plays guitar, and is supported synergistically by drummer Spencer Clarke and bass player Chris Happel. Mark’s melodies are generally Southwest / Surf / Spy / Spaghetti Western oriented, with heavy doses of South of the Border…Weird Satellite starts right of with a big reverb kick, then settles into a grand melody and spacey feel. Very nice number. Wave King opens with a Spanish acoustic guitar into a big Austin whammy surf number with a nice melody line. Petrina is a traditional tune with a light and Euro arrangement. Naked Piranha is very VERY dark, with huge grodie guitars issuing up low-E comin’-to-getcha chords. Water Gunn is a very unusual tune, with it’s cowboy rhythm and double picked bridge. Myan Sun Dance is an acoustic near-tango with hand drums, pretty but not special. Tarantula Taco is a grand song with mariachi trumpets and beautiful chords. This is a huge winner!!! The female vocals that come into the song near the middle are the frosting on the cake. Mookiest Limbo is hardly a limbo…it’s a Link Wray sluggish in your street gang number that moves into a swashbuckling scene before a low-E menacing melody and back to the Link thing. Heavy duty track. Fiberglass Camel moves from a really nice Middle eastern melody/ progression into a big Dick Dale sounding lead. Oyster Wax has lots of James Bond influence and a nice melody feel. Body Bag sounds just like the name implies, a corpse lying in the alley in a B-movie detective story. Jupiter Beach is very Los Straitjackets oriented with twinges of Penetration. This is a very good CD.***
~ Phil Dirt
Austin Chronicle, TEXAS
BEST BETS IN THS CLUBS–Surf guitar legend Dick Dale performs at the Back Room, where The Sandblasters contribute their own 1060’s style surf instrumentals as the opening act.
Phil Dirt’s ‘Surf Heavies’, San Francisco, CA.
After several years of development, Mark Stultz’ band the Sandblasters has delivered a very solid CD of crunchy sounding Spanish influenced western visionary surf and twang. The thing that struck me about this disc is the quality of the performance. It is not just solid, but Mark doesn’t need to rely on volume of speed. Much of the material is mid tempo, yet it’s powerful and magnetic. His bandmates Spencer Clarke- drums and Drew Shuller- bass provide a crisp foundation. Much like Mark’s work here, it is conspicuous in it’s most appropriate and well defined support role, instead of obviated by the players egos. There is a definite sense of ensemble here. Most of the songs are longer, some are quite dramatic, all are very artful solid CD.
Quick Sand- Solid Drivin’ surf tone and a solid beat drag this rhythmic and moody track. It has a lot of cow surf and Texas twang. It’s not very melodic, but powers it’s way along.
Cactus Stingray- This is a splendid track, with a cool riff, and solid sound. It’s slightly spy, slightly southwestern, and totally enthusiastic. “Cactus Stingray” is optimistically gloomy, and it worms it’s way into your soul. I found myself coming back again and again.
Flight P-51- This fine tune is both ominous and watery. Flight P-51 sports whammy and surf twang, and a rhythmic sense of foreboding. It uses damped rhythm and big chord Link Wray chords, but more surf than that might imply, Way Cool!
Hungarian Hunch Dance- Whoa! This is glorious! It blends the Hungarian patterns and rhythms with southwest twang and drama. It’s spooky and infectious. The cow surf beat adds yet another dimension to this already marvelous track.
Submersionary- Slow ringing tones lull you into this picturesque track. It evokes images of a calm lagoon, schools of brightly colored tropical fish, and the desert at sunset, a very pretty track. Not romantic, just really nice.
Big Sky- The rolling beat and big chords work well to create a spaghetti western scene, with unshaven long riders on pintos trotting across the big screen. Great guitar tone, great rhythm, great beat, solid bottom end.
Brutal Surfers- Like the title says, pummelicious wave shredders, drowning gremmies, and shortboard cutbacks, plus some pretty cool psychedelic wah wah. Dramatic, powerful, and mean.
Bonesaw- Great Title! This sports a different guitar tone, more distorted and evil. It moves at a lumbering pace through the femur, while feedback and double picked danger lurk in the shadows. Slow, mean and very dramatic, yet with a sly grin just below the surface. Cool track.
The Duel- Big guitar drama, danger in the streets, spys in the allies, and an ambush awaiting you when you least expect it. Slow, big chord power and a delicate melody line. Very dangerous. That’s before it drops into the break where we find a faster, more surfy western thing with a full round tone and a nifty riff.
Snake Shake- Throbbing vibrato, mid tempo twisted shimmer, a nd a dandy little riff. There’s an air of weird science and slithering thoughts. The hand claps are cool, and the drums are quite complimentary to the main theme. Surf as art.
Board Breaker- Unusual short delay on the snare, crunchy guitar chords and bass notes, and a military feel…sorta a drum solo, punctuated by just enough guitar and bass to keep it afloat. The drum work is quite good. More than that, it’s unusual for a solo, less showoff puttering than many others.
Toothless Cannibal- Great title! Images of being gummed to death. An ominous riff oriented dramatic structure with very inventive arranging make this a fine surf art piece. Id this the dawn of a new sub-genre? Nice track.
El Cucumbre- Spanish chords, cantina smells, a senorita in a black lace dress with a red rose in her teeth, and Zorro lurking in the shadows. This is a very well developed beautiful track. It’s full of imagery, and holds you right to the end.
Raygun Smasher- Spanish flair and dramatic lurking danger are found within this eloquent track. It uses some familiar riffs, dramatic changes, stylized visions, and intellectual structures. A nice tune, assembled like something from an artier period. Very good listening.
Estrellas- Delicate solo acoustic guitar, a pleasant sunny afternoon Mexican verandah, and fine playing.
Cool and Strange Music Magazine
“Instrumental music that surges through the veins of the sun-baked Mohave Desert, the coolness of the unexplored cosmos, and the fears of subterranean darkness. A potent soundtrack for the sci-fi cowboy adventure movie that lives in the back of our minds as we blaze full throttle down the mother road at 2 a.m. wit the headlights off.” Who would dare put this description of their music on their CD but a Texas instro trio, I ask you? It not only takes a lotta balls, but it’s luckily an accurate description, as their tight arrangements and dynamic playing effortlessly rages through a variety of instrumental guitar forms (surf, spy, spaghetti wester, Duane Eddy in particular) and overlays the whole thing into a template of Texas Kick Ass Deluxe.
That fair state to the South has always seemed (to me, at least) to shine a bit brighter upon it’s rock-n-roll native sons than most – they almost always seem to go TOO FAR in order that others can go FAR ENOUGH. And the sandblasters do just that. With a fine guitarist and the rhythm section that puts out maximum backing mojo, they tackle anything they want and make it sound like their own. Whether it’s the Damned-infused instro punk of “Quick Sand” or “Snake Shake” which sounds like the 13th floor elevators covering putty in your hands by the Yardbirds to wah-wah galore in “Brutal Surfers” and the twang-barrage of “Big Sky”, it’s an impressive instro outing all the way through.
Music City Texas -Roots Music Magazine
Many people might regard an all instrumental, big guitar, surf trio album, billed as ”A potent soundtrack for the sci-fi cowboy adventure movie that lives in the back of our minds as we blaze full throttle down the mother road at 2 a.m. wit the headlights off.” as a living dinosaur. Far below the media radar flourishes a surf/instro subculture, to which the Sandblasters, Mark Stultz- guitar, Spencer Clarke- drums and Drew Shuller- bass are Austin’s main, though far from only contribution. The 15 tracks, all originals, of which the spaghetti western-ish “Big Sky” has become a surprise listener request hit on KSYM, demonstrate that this trio could hold it’s own in any All Time Surf Fest.
Blue Suede News, Issue #48-
Landlocked Austin, Texas surf band led by Mark Stultz. One song is for sure a new surf classic. Cut six entitles “Big Sky” is a surf-western classic as wide open and cool as the state of Texas. Sci-fi space cowboys now have road music for the wide open spaces and deserted highways of America. All 15 cuts are cool.
~ Dennis M. DeWitt
Hepcat Records Mail Order Catalog, Volume 1
Cool, moody, spaghetti surf from Austin, TX with lots of twang and feeling.
Pipeline Instrumental Review, Surrey, England
Cactus Stingray opens up the thick beat with the deep vibrant twang of Quick Sand. The title track follows and it’s quirky progressions on a moody theme still prevent pigeonholing this Texas guitar band. The damped picking behind superbly atmospheric lead of flight P-51 does provide the first clue of who missed The Sandblasters stunning debut album Oyster Wax (Pipeline 32). How about Texas space surf with a strident bite – this band is not an outfit that’s easily categorized!
Take Hungarian Hunch Dance. Sure the obvious Eastern European melody is in there, but so are those edgy progressions and references to Out of Limits. Submersionary is a bit of a doodly dreamer that sounds overly familiar on first play but is one of those mind-transporting passages that’ll take you wherever. The snare rolling, galloping rhythm and bass of Big Sky can only take you way out west, and the proud lead guitar theme tops off an excellent spag-west romp. Brutal Surfers is aptly titled, it’s almost discordant apart from a tasty wah – wah crescendo midway. Bonesaw is a superbly dramatic builder and one of the best numbers that Link Wray never recorded.
There’s plenty more drama in the Duel, where light lead is set against spacious big guitar, bass and drum riffs – if only more bands had the courage to play with dynamics in this way. A more formulaic mid – tempo rocker is Snake Shake, but the Wipeout snare rolls of Board Breaker introduce a sparkling short variation on the theme. Toothless Cannibal sways between the sand beneath the surf and it’s desert cousin whereas El Cucumbre is an out and out spaghetti western theme. Less focused are the jangling guitars of Raygun Smasher where it’s more about mood than melody. For a finale we get the subtle acoustic strumming of Estrellas set to a background of insect effects. A fine end to another winner from The Sandblasters.
Insite Magazine, Local Tracks December
Okay, so they’re not the Ventures…but we ain’t in California and this ain’t the sixties, sweet pea.
So who records surf music anyway? And why would you record surf music if you lived in Austin, Texas? And just what is it that defines surf music anyway? Is it just a bunch of jangly instrumental guitars, heavy on the drums, light on the bass? Sandblasters are not strictly “surf music”, at any rate. I’d call it cow-space-surf. Or something like that. (Remember the days of cow-punk?) Anyway, this stuff is cool man. The Big Kahuna and Moondoggie are diggin’ it too. Here’s a quote off the back of the CD…you make the call: “Instrumental music that surges through the veins of the sun-baked Mohave Desert, the coolness of the unexplored cosmos, and the fears of subterranean darkness. A potent soundtrack for the sci-fi cowboy adventure movie that lives in the back of our minds as we blaze full throttle down the mother road at 2 a.m. wit the headlights off.”
Waterloo Records, Austin, Chronicle
It’s been two years since their successful debut, Space BBQ, and the Sandblasters haven’t been idle in the meantime. Their latest release finds them venturing into new territory as evidenced by the spaghetti-western influenced “Big Sky” the Mermenesque “Submersionary” and the eastern European “Hungarian Hunch Dance” and more!
Austin Chronicle, Music Reviews
Surf Music is like that which essence it seeks to bottle-water; sometimes it glistens with the reflection of a million suns, sometimes it just lays there – like water. Cactus Stingray , the second full length release by Austin’s perennial surf trio the Sandblasters, is definitely of the sunblock variety – glaringly good. Riding wave after wave of great sound and production values, the bass in the guitar, bass and drums booming like titanic swells, Cactus Stingray has feel, flow and personality, three things essential to making albums in a gene that’s all instrumental and generally considered simplistic at it’s best – a form in which all bodies of water look the same after a while. So, while you might not remember the song titles, the melodies linger with you like sand in your shoes. Actually, the titles tell the tale, from the sinking opener “Quick Sand” and the mysterious “Flight P-51” to the three- tune tunnel of “Hungarian Hunch Dance” (Hendrix goes to Hungary), “Submersionary” (meditatively Mermen) and “Big Sky” (Sergio Leone, who else?) The slithering “Snake Shake” and humorously grinding “Toothless Cannibal” cancel out the rather rotten “El Cucumbre’”, the only ebb in a lot of flow. “Instrumental music that surges through the veins of the sun baked Mojave Desert” reads Cactus Stingray’s back-tray CD inset, which measns you’ll need that SPF-35 strength paba-free, hypoallergenic, and waterproof sunblock. * * * *
New Gandy Dancer, Magazine For Rock Instrumental Music, UK
1996 was the last CD – the quite wonderful “Space Bar-B-Q” from the red hot Austin trio –guitarist Mark Stultz, drummer Spencer Clarke and bassist Drew Shuller. This time around, they’re playing what they describe as cowboy space rock! Well played, crisp production with no overdubs and nods in the direction of The Ventures, The Astronauts from time to time on what is all original material. It’s quite a job for an instrumental group of today to know which way to go – play the same ols Miserlou which keeps most people happy or try and progress into original material which is by default, totally unknown and therefore risqué. The Sandblasters have – we think wisely – chosen the latter route and it’s paid off. It’s not an easy album to listen to straight off, it will bear a few playings before the base ideas start coming across. I should have liked to hear something a bit more melodic somewhere (the western themed Big Sky is probably the nearest) for commerciality but the album is a good one, two years in the making and the guys deserve credit for not taking any easy direction. We enjoyed it but you might find it grows on you subtly. ***
1st CD Release: Space Bar BQ- Reviews…
Austin Chronicle, Texas
The Pulp Fiction soundtrack didn’t merely jolt a tidal wave of interest in surf music, it also tied the genre in with B-movie schtick, tribal rhythms, and twang, three things which this Austin trio pledge their allegiance over the course of their full-length CD debut. It’s not Man or Astro Man? Just yet, but rather a Mexican Bullfight in the sand, and that’s still plenty Tarantino for me.
Option Music Culture Magazine August 1997
Reverb never really went away. It just got tweaked and twisted, overwhelmed by drier fuzzier distortions, and nudged aside by digital echoes. But, as both surf music and rockabilly have experienced healthy comebacks over the past few years, so has that cavernous twang. The Sandblasters can be found on the surfing side of the street, as their name implies. They’ve got all the sound down pat. What sets them apart are their tunes, which are a bit more interesting than the usual blues progressions or “Maleguena” riffs. Nothing too outrageous, just more melodic development and far fewer nods to classics like “Surf Beat” or “Secret Agent Man” . I guess that makes this album less than an instant classic, but quite a bit more interesting than just a genre piece.
Pipeline Instrumental Review, Surrey, England
A reverb snap opens up Weird Satellite, the punchy surfy, space theme that sets the tone for this, the first CD from The Sandblasters. Mark Stultz’s biting, echoey guitar sound takes the lead with plenty of tremoloed chords to savour. Organ provides support on this and a couple of other tracks, a second guitar is also used to good effect on occasion. Dramatic acoustic work introduces the Wave King with more of that tough lead guitar. Our European friends will recognize the term piggtrad (barbed wire) which was used in the 60’s to describe a tough electric guitar sound, it was never more appropriately applied than to The Sandblasters! Both of these tracks clock in at around 2 ½ minutes to provide a dynamic start to Space Bar-B-Q.
Next up is Petrina , actually Jerry Lordan’s evocative Santa Ana and presumably therefore a tribute to the great songwriter. A fine arrangement from the band contributes significantly to his theme. Naked Piranha takes it on with crashing chords and cascading runs to create a Latin-surf feel with a neat arrangement that incorporates a bass & drum break alongside more from the guitar. This tasty track and the surfbeat section of Fiberglass Camel are the closest to traditional surf-styled pieces. The mean and moody Body Bag links in a touch of Rumble for dramatic effect while the slow Tarantula Taco has a deep lead allied to a strong acoustic rhythm in a fine Latin arrangement. The acoustic feature Myan Sun Dance is a brilliantly tense and dramatic number, using only guitar and hand percussion instruments. It’s an amazing achievement that provides variety to the set in an unusual way. Elsewhere the album is filled with solid power guitar rock with a surfy edge, but it’s those special arrangements which will ensure The Sandblasters’ future.
Space Bar-B-Q is a significant step forward from their cassettes and a satisfying debut, I have a feeling they are going to be even better next time around.
New Gandy Dancer, Magazine For Rock Instrumental Music, UK
Not to be boring – but you’ll have a job believing these guys are a trio. 100% Mark Stultz songs Mark is the lead player with snappy drumming from Spencer Clarke and busy bass playing from anchorman Chris Happel. Mookiest Limbo is Link Wray with a bit of surf thrown in, while Water Gunn is much reminiscent of The Ventures 007-11 from 1966. But don’t get the impression that this band is a throwback – Fiberglass Camel carries a camel beat, if that’s possible, and is a haunting 12 bar, slow and deliberate with drums accentuating the big beat until they introduce a raving middle section. There’s lots of guitar effects pushed in too, on a CD of innovative rock instrumental guitar, that , while original and inventive, doesn’t stray too far from rock spy and surf as we know it. A bullet!****
The Continental Magazine, Bellingham, WA.
“Instro-mentals for Surf and space travel”. This effort from the Sandblasters is a high-energy, full-on twangfest. Combining all of the elements that make surf and exotica cool, this 12 track collection has got to be one of the best releases of 1996! Even more amazing is the fact that these are all originals. Some of the melodies may seem familiar, but that’s cuz they take the influence of others and use it to create a sound all their own. Never has such cool music come from a trio. My personal favs were the reverb and Farfisa-driven Weird Satellite and the driving Oyster Wax. ~Sean Berry
ORB Confidential , Nashua, NJ
Surf’s Up! And Austin’s own Sandblasters are leading the parade. Extremely traditional 60’s American surf sounds are expertly delivered here, with a tasteful hint of good ‘ol Texas boogie surfing through the mix. For anyone not already hip to The Sandblasters, vocals are not included in this too cool instrumental band.
From a musician’s standpoint, these guys are as tight as Gidget’s ass!
The Sandblasters opened for Dick dale on 6th Street in Austin. I think we’ll be seeing lots of this hot surf/space music. They were already on three international surf music compilations when the wave of popularity grew out of Pulp Fiction, and now Third Rock From The Sun. With Space Bar-B-Q, their new CD in their fists, the waves will be rising.
~ Sue Donahoe
Point Break, Hamburg, GERMANY
Austin, Texas again, tape again. The Sandblaster first caught my attention when I read a review of their first tape in New Gandy Dancer, like one or two years back. I had never heard them, but they kinda stuck out in my mind because they had a number of tunes, originally done by Laika and the Cosmonauts. I already knew about Laika playing in Texas more than anywhere else, and the Teisco Del Rey connection they got. Great to see an up and coming band having solid, global inspiration and giving credit.
As I am listening to Petrina, the opener, I realize how mature The Sandblaster already are. It is a mid-tempo tune, with interesting rhythm accents and a rather non-sixties style to it. To give you a hint I could describe the sound as a striped down Insect Surfers.
General speaking, I want to mention the patented Laika chromatisms (spy-ish for the music theoretically-challenged reader). In real life, they are a trio, but recordings are something different, and so Mark Stultz sometimes supports his leads with powerful and competently placed chords. Like on Body Bag, which is a real dramatic and classy one. Myan Sun Dance has got a magic blend of acoustic guitar, tambourine, toms and electric guitar. The rhythm somehow reminds me of the Mermen. It seems these guys are very into all the really modern bands.
As I am interested in odd surfing-locales, like Germany, places California guys laugh at, at best. I would love to see a video of Gulfcoast Longboarding with a soundtrack score by The Sandblasters. I am convinced (for a long time, now even more so) that it is rather the desire to surf good waves, than being all surf-out at the end of the day, that makes you create this kind of music. Enjoying it in a live bar, after a couple of hours of sun, salt, wind and water is always great of course. The Sandblasters managed to create a very inspired and entertaining tape. The tunes are shorter than the Insect Surfers and Mermen’s ones, I like it! Guys, contact a video company about a Gulf surfing video, do the music and send it to me for review. Leave your music as powerful, alive and a bit raw ( I mean not super-polished) as it is. All the best for the Sandblasters.
Surf Music USA, Utah
After releasing several successful self-produced cassettes over the last couple of years, The Sandblasters reach for a higher wave with their 1st CD Space Bar-B-Q. For a three-piece outfit they have a clean full sound and more often than not sound like a four piece group. Wave King features a nice acoustic guitar intro while Myan Sun Dance is all acoustic. They get down and dirty with Mookiest Limbo that greatly reminds you of the new Dick Dale sound. Oyster Wax and Jupiter Beach takes you to the hidden depths of the 007 genre. To slow you down a bit The Sandblasters pick out Body Bag . With liner notes from Davy Peckett and an awesome colored CD disc, we have a winner here. The Sandblasters are a powerful surf trio for the nineties.
Mike’s Feedback Music Zine, Austin, TEXAS
Surf’s up dude! Pray for sharks…land sharks that is. The Sandblasters are definitely making their own kind of waves with Space Bar-B-Q, twelve rocking “instro-mentals” custom designed for surf and space travel. It will have you longing for the beach and salt spray. The Sandblasters are Mark Stultz, Spencer Clarke and Chris Happel. They manage to squeeze out the most intense and exotic surf sounds that I have heard from three guys since I spent tripping around the beaches of southern California. Not all surf music is created equal, and the Sandblasters prove it with Space Bar-B-Q. Petrina had me longing for a beach party where all the cool guys hang (and the chicks, well…)..Miss Funicello could’ve easily wooed Moon Doggy with a groove like this . Myan Sun Dance and Tarantula Taco give a South of the Border flavor to their brand of surf music. Oyster Wax made me ready to don my trench coat and fedora. Best of all, I got to surf the net while groovin’ to a beat that grabbed me by the toes and rocked me to the quick. Whether you’re hanging ten, or just hanging, try to catch this offering from The Sandblasters. Better yet, grab your favorite beach bunny and find a place to do the swim, the pony, or any other funky, groovy dance and …cut loose!
Phil Dirt’s ‘Surf’s Up’ Internet Surf Music Site Santa Cruz, CALIFORNIA
Jalepeno Salsa Surf! Finally The Sandblasters make it to CD. This effort is quite good. The Sandblasters have an Austin Surf sound, meaning there’s the unmistakable Austin feel about it, and the Surf is the underlying current. Mark Stultz writes and plays guitar, and is supported synergistically by drummer Spencer Clarke and bass player Chris Happel. Mark’s melodies are generally Southwest / Surf / Spy / Spaghetti Western oriented, with heavy doses of South of the Border…Weird Satellite starts right of with a big reverb kick, then settles into a grande melody and spacey feel. Very nice number. Wave King opens with a Spanish acoustic guitar into a big Austin whammy surf number with a nice melody line. Petrina is a traditional tune with a light and Euro arrangement. Naked Piranha is very VERY dark, with huge grodie guitars issuing up low-E comin’-to-getcha chords. Water Gunn is a very unusual tune, with it’s cowboy rhythm and double picked bridge. Myan Sun Dance is an acoustic near-tango with hand drums, pretty but not special. Tarantula Taco is a grand song with mariachi trumpets and beautiful chords. This is a huge winner!!! The female vocals that come into the song near the middle are the frosting on the cake. Mookiest Limbo is hardly a limbo…it’s a Link Wray sluggish in your street gang number that moves into a swashbuckling scene before a low-E menacing melody and back to the Link thing. Heavy duty track. Fiberglass Camel moves from a really nice Middle eastern melody / progression into a big Dick dale sounding lead. Oyster Wax has lots of James Bond influence and a nice melody feel. Body Bag sounds just like the name implies, a corpse lying in the alley in a B-movie detective story. Jupiter Beach is very Los Straitjackets oriented with twinges of Penetration. This is a very good CD.*** ~ Phil Dirt
Arena Magazine, Austin TEXAS
This is the real thing. With the advent of retro (does that make sense?) lots and lots of 60’s and 70’s sounds are making their way back into popular music. Remember spinning your sister’s Ventures records on her cheap turntable that has speakers built right into the sides? This is what you would’ve heard – bone rattling reverb, jazz style drumming, lots of minor chords and a whole lot of guitar. They even do the fake flamenco E to F progression better than anybody BUT the Ventures. add to that a little rock n roll swagger on Mookiest Limbo and you’ve got one helluva party record.
Livewire, Canadian Magazine For Instrumental Rock
The Austin, Texas surf band have finally got their CD out and it’s a winner! The CD has a “sweeter” sound than the cassette due to remastering and EQ-ing…so here’s a rundown of the “hot” tracks: Mookiest Limbo is the toughest surf rocker on here—could’ve been titled Boss Surf as it sounds like a surf take of the Rumblers big one! Bodybag is a Spanish sounding guitar opus with shades of Rumble thrown in for danger. Building surf guitar blast after blast, the lead picker of The Sandblasters creates a mighty original Wave King . A Flamenco acoustic guitar introduces Myan Sun Dance with it’s minimalist picking on a nice melody. Get this CD today for your very own summer soundtrack!
New Gandy Dancer, ENGLAND
Naked Piranha; Jupiter Beach; Fiberglass Camel; Oyster Wax’ Mookie Limbo; Weird Satellite.. Here’s an advance preview if you like of six new Mark Stultz guitar surfers that will hopefully be the backbone of their new CD. We have always liked the Sandblasters here at NGD and this shows why. All strong and innovative tunes with Naked Piranha and Oyster Was especially worth a mention. We will have to wait a little while yet after this premiere for the big release since the CD or cassette of all originals is not slated until the end of the year. We will be in the queue for it. Mark is on guitar with quality percussion from Spencer Clarke and boss bass from Chris Happel- Good Luck guys. ***
California Music Magazine, AUSTRALIA
Four more surf gems from the Austin, Texas trio ( Mark Stultz, guitar; Spencer Clarke, drums; Chris Happel, bass) who have scored more rave reviews than Dick Dale has melted guitar picks. Recorded “LIVE” to 2-track at Cedar Creek Studios in Austin, Texas (produced by the Sandblasters, engineered by Tim Dittmar), these six Mark Stultz penned tunes once again reinforce the group’s standing in the surf music kingdom. ****
~ Stephen McParland
Livewire, Canadian Magazine for Instrumental Rock
Austin, Texas band just recorded some new material since their last tape ( reviewed in LIVEWIRE #7). Their originals keep gettin’ better – ‘specially Fiberglass Camel with loping desert surf guitar sandwiched around a fast paced Dick dale bit. As the title suggests, Jupiter Beach has dyno-mite surf meets space guitar runs. Mookie Limbo’s guitar patterns have shades of Malaguena & blends those Spanish stylings well with an imaginary spy movie theme. By the way, this is a preview copy- it’ll be released with more instros at the end of the year and will probably be titled Jupiter Beach. Watch for it.
~ Rich Hagensen
Orb Confidential, Nashau, NJ
Get ready to go surfing southwestern style with The Sandblaster out of Austin Texas. Hip and fun, Mark Stultz, guitar, Spencer Clarke, drums and Chris Happel, bass, have that Coopertone and Tiki sound that makes surf fans want to ride The Sandblaster wave. ~D. Hutton
Surfers Rule, SWEDEN
Direct from Austin Texas comes this combo that play real cool surf instrumentals. The band includes Mark Stultz, Tom Bombara and Jeff the Viking. Tracks include Surf’s You Right; Pipeline 52; and Weird Satellite, strongly recommended. ~Goran Tannfelt
January 1995 Pipeline, ENGLAND
Oyster Wax; Weird Satellite; Surf’s You Right; Miserlou; Surfromania; Night in Tunisia; Secret Agent Force; Galactic Cactus; Pipeline’52; Hippy Trip; Dick Tracy; Lullabye of the Leaves…
Hints of the “Hawaii 5-0” riff greet you as the Sandblasters introduce their guitar, bass & drums attack on the pacey Oyster Wax. Tom Bombara’s adventurous bass helps guitarist Mark Stultz flesh out the sound, a role taken on by a spacey Farfisa-style organ fills on the aptly titled Weird Satellite. Mark’s guitar has a clean-cut echoey jangle to it and he does well on Miserlou with the aide of some powerful tub thumping from Spencer Clarke. Organ plays all the right parts in support, yet I’m not convinced it has quite the correct sound for this old surf classic. It does fit the more melodic Night in Tunisia but makes no further appearances, the rest is guitar all the way. I can imagine The Sandblasters deliver quite a punch live, in the studio they rely on a single guitar to fill the soundstage, They have used organ on these two tracks but might consider a second guitar part to free the arrangements up a bit before achieving a major deal. Secret Agent Force is an amalgam of spy themes built into a pleasing medley with some welcome changes in guitar tones, Galactic Cactus is a neat run through the Fireballs Vaquero and Pipeline gets updated courtesy of some guitar effects before launching into some Peter Gunn bass riffing and spacey guitar doodling. Hippy Trip sandwiches The Stones’ Paint It Black and 19th Nervous Breakdown between The Doors’ Break On Through while Lullabye of the Leaves makes a great closer with it’s powerfully sustained lead guitar. With touches of surf, spy, space and straight rock instrumentals, Oyster Wax has something to please everyone.
April, 1995. Outlet magazine, Essex, ENGLAND
Guitar Instrumentals are still in a class of their own. THE SANDBLASTERS “Oyster Wax” A three piece playing regular weekly gigs in the Austin area. Mark Stultz, Tom Bombara and Jeff the Viking offer 12 tracks live in the studio and boy does it sound like they had some kinda fun. Mark offers as influences Dick Dale, Tornadoes, Shadowy men, Cosmonauts and Freddy King. Well, listening to their exhuberant tape, I guess it goes a little deeper than that. Sure there’s obligatory covers of well worn vehicles Miserlou and Pipeline but they don’t go for note perfect copies but rather treat them just a little bit differently. They go though a series of spy themes linked together and are not afraid to go into a rolling Stones medley when the mood prevails. Their originals hand effortlessly around all these influences but to make things righter than right, the group play with a verve and twang that displays a deep love of the genre and they also play like old pros. Their own logo adorns a surf board…. But hang on aren’t hey a bit of along way from the beach???
Out of Nowhere cassette February 1994
New Gandy Dancer , ENGLAND
The Austin instrumental band scene has flowered with new bands like THE SANDBLASTERS and DEATH VALLEY.
~Dave Arnson (Insect Surfers
…This 3-piece from Austin comes alive on their first cassette release. The group now consists of Mark Stultz, Tom Bombara, and Jeff Moree. Songs are all instrumental and were recorded live with no overdubs which makes it easy for live shows. Sound is tight, splashing and refreshing-new surf at it’s best. A CD is now in the works.***
~ Robert Dalley
New Gandy Dancer, ENGLAND
Pink Flamingo;Night in Tunisia; Hippy Trip; Surfromania; Mookie Limbo; Surf’s You Right; Miserlou; Oyster wax; Martian Monster Stomp; Galactic Cactus; Secret Agent Force; Weird Satellite; Blue Moon; Pipeline ’52; Dick Tracy…More Texas surf with Mark Stultz (guitar); Tom Bombara bass); Jeff Moree (drums) recorded in Austin, Texas from a band that whips up a storm of exciting guitar theatrics. Some great originals here from a trip who have been playing surf for a couple of years-sounds longer by the quality of the sound-and a band who drive mercilessly through fifteen pulsating tracks. Liked their versions on Pipeline, they’ve worked hard to be different on this with up-tempo drums and all and Dick Tracy which is mean and moody. Wall to wall guitars of the real thing rough-riding, forceful and ear bending high quality splendor. Loved it!****
Music City Texas, TEXAS
Recently at Tiesco Del Rey’s birthday bash at The Hole in The Wall, The Sandblasters did a guest set and there, wailing away on a vintage Farfisa in true Nutrocker style was Greta Poulson. Though, as mail order queen of Waterloo Records, her name is familiar to subscribers around the world, she now stands poised to leap into local awareness as an Austin surf instrumentalist as famous as, er, well, maybe this sentence needs a little work…