The members of Surphing Matylda are from tiny villages in Northern New Mexico but their self-titled debut CD features a big city brand of rock 'n' roll.
The 14 songs display ferocious energy and tremendous versatility. This young trio effortlessly switches from speed metal to roots reggae. They also go from bubblegum pop to dirty punk. Surphing Matylda is a band that - in the hands of the right management - has the potential to sell millions of records.
"Gracias," one of it's strongest numbers, is a rock song with a Flamenco chord progression. Their reggae version of The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" has received extensive airplay on KTAO, Taos' solar radio station. "In My Car" is a number that combines a sticky-as-glue hook, hilarious lyrics, a one-drop beat and a speed-metal break.
Vocalist Arian Morales, from the agricultural village of Dixon, sings in a wail that brings to mind Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Morales also writes the songs, many of which contain lyrics in grammatically incorrect Spanish.
"Most of my songs are empty and pointless," he said while laughing. "I hate trying to sound intelligent."
The song "Ojo Sarco" is one of several gems on the CD. It begins with Morales' mariachi whoop, backed by a circular Latin bass line. The lyrics are simple, blatantly autobiographical and like most of Morales' songs, tongue-in-cheek. "I was raised in the mountains / In the huge city of Dixon / Most of my friends there are crazy / They live a short drive away / Ojo Sarco / Loco, loco amigos..."
Drummer JB Sutherland, raised in the former hippie commune of Lama near the Colorado border, has played numerous gigs with legendary jazz saxophonist Frank Morgan. Morgan, who has recorded with Miles Davis and many other jazz founders, praised Sutherland.
"I like him," said Morgan. "He's good."
Sutherland, 20, started playing drums when he was five and now fronts his own jazz quartet in Taos, the JB Sutherland Jazz All-Stars. He has steady gigs with several other bands and has never needed a day job. Fluent in many music styles, he is debating whether to accept a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.
"I might go there," said Sutherland. "But I like Surphing Matylda. Frank Morgan told me, `Don't play rock 'n' roll. That shit'll kill you.' But I like rock `n' roll. I grew up listening to Metallica. I might move to Albuquerque with these guys and take classes at UNM. There's so many fine chicks at UNM!"
Miles Lage, from Pe§asco, churns out seething bass lines reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea. He said Surphing Matylda's influences include the Peppers and many other bands.
"We listen to Korn, Beck, the Cars," Lage said.
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Lage said he started playing bass in bars at age 13.
"I started off with The Steady Rollers," Lage said. "Me and JB used to have a band called Papa J and The Penetrators."
Surphing Matylda's CD was recorded, engineered, mixed and co-produced by Omar Rane at the Tone Palace Recording Studio in Taos.
"They recorded about 20 songs in three days," Rane said. "They just came in and recorded them live, and then we went back and redid some of the guitar and vocals. So we kept the energy of the live performance without sacrificing any sound quality. Arian has a gift in that, when he opens his mouth to sing, what comes out is really beautiful."
Band members said the CD will soon be available online at Amazon.com.
Surphing Matylda will release its CD to the public Friday at 10 p.m. at Burt's Tiki Lounge.
"We always get the crowd moving," Lage said.