MATT HURRAY OFFERS UP SOME ‘NOFRE NUGGETS’ / INDIE BAND GURU / KEITH PRO
As musicians, we all have the music that inspired our childhoods, even before we knew we knew we wanted to be a musician. That sound that would draw us to be creative and become the soundtrack of our youth. Our recent find Matt Hurray has taken this very seriously and has now released an album of covers as a salute to those songs that shaped him.
Hailing from Balboa Island on the Pacific Coast of California would have a major influence on Matt Hurray. By the age of 15, he was drawn to playing guitar and music had its hooks in him. Playing in a bunch of bands over the years helped Matt build his skills as a musician and songwriter. Soon after a solo career was started focusing on the instrumental surf music that was a huge part of his lifestyle.
Now Matt Hurray has just released his fifth solo album. This one entitled Nofre Nuggets is a salute to some of his favorite surf tunes recorded from 1960 to 1964. These were the songs that played the soundtrack to his youth as he listened to them non-stop as he was heading out to surf the waves with his friends.
Right from the opener ‘Pipeline’ we know what we are in for. High-end surf guitar bringing us back to an earlier time with no cares in the world. For the soothing ‘Endless Summer’ theme Matt brought in his daughters Caitlyn and Natalie to provide the background vocals. The family affair adds to the happiness that oozes from the track
While still deep in the surf style, we get a little Spanish guitar added with ‘El Conquistador’ Matt is able to bend his sound to provide some energy while still staying deep in the surf pocket. “Apache” is another one that blurs off the surf style slightly with some powerful guitar strumming flush with delay effects to keep us in the zone.
The drumming and bass guitar takes more of the lead on ‘7th Street’ to fill out the sound to an almost pure rock tone. The bouncy playing fills all the sonic space available. This one fully encapsulates the listener. As we get to the closer ‘Telstar’ our heads are squarely in that time of worry-free summers when nothing matters but the sun, the breeze, and the surf.
MATT HURRAY - 'NOFRE NUGGETS / THE ARK OF MUSIC
Balboa Island, CA based artist Matt Hurray knows a thing or two about surf music. Since he was a kid he’s been surfing himself, and the nostalgia of those good times and the music that went with it heavily influenced his career. Hurray played with a multitude of bands before deciding to pursue a solo project where the focus became instrumental surf music. He’s released multiple albums including Egyptian Surfer (2012), Unnecessary Commentary (2016), Eggnog Rock (2018), Bitchin! (2019). This year, Hurray released a full-length album titled ‘Nofre Nuggets, and it’s a truly authentic tribute to all of the surf rockers gone before him.
Hurray himself contributes guitar, vocals, and keys to the record. Also joining him are Jim Rice (guitar), Peter Freiberger (bass), Gary Ferguson (drums), Natalie Hurray (vocals), and Caitlyn Hurray (vocals). And if you’re curious (like we were) as to what ‘Nofre Nuggets actually means, Hurray has laid it out for us. ‘Nofre is slang for San Onofre Beach in California, and nuggets are either great waves, cool tunes, and/or beautiful girls. It’s a wildly appropriate title for an album that seems to bring to mind each of these things and then some. While this is a collection of cover tunes written in the 1960’s by some of the most accomplished musicians in this genre, Hurray and his band do these songs real justice and are clearly helping to keep surf rock music alive and well.
Here's what we dug most...
The album opens with Pipeline, and it immediately showcases that Hurray brings all of the iconic pieces of surf rock to his interpretations of these songs – classic scrapes on an electric guitar, rapid-fire, high-energy percussion, alternating guitar pickings, and above all, that classic surf guitar tone, reminiscent of the likes of Dick Dale. Hurray’s renditions feel wonderfully retro in execution, but the clarity of the music doesn’t suffer for it.
And these are the characteristics that you’ll find across the record. Hurray stays true to the genre, and it lends him authenticity as a surf rock musican. There’s no need to push the envelope with experimentation or out-of-the-box thinking to play truly great surf rock music. Hurray truly exemplifies this, as he clearly knows how to perform to the standards his chosen genre and keeps that iconic surf rock sound as the absolute centerpiece of each and every one of his interpretations, while still adding in his own influence on the tracks.
Hurray’s rendition of Mr. Moto completely captures the essence of the original, seemingly due to in part his ability to duplicate these classic surf rock tones as well. We appreciate the slightly heavier but cleaner take on The Rising Surf, where the present-day production capabilites shine just a bit and allows a bit of modern flavor to seep through. And though this album is primarily instrumental, we are treated to the addition of just a handful of vocal oohs and ahhs in Endless Summer, which is a lovely addition to warm tones of the track.
And we’re altogether pleased to find the absolute surf rock classic Wipeout among the included tracks. For those who might not be familiar with the surf rock genre, listen to this one to feel the authenticity Hurray is bringing to the table (and drummer Gary Ferguson too – his chops are on full display here).
Our Favorite Track...
We’re treated to just one Matt Hurray original on this record – a rework off of his previous 2016 release Unnecessary Commentary. But when listening through the record, you might not be able to pick out the original among the rest because it so seamlessly blends with the rest of these iconic surf rock tracks – something that’s difficult to do in any genre, and an accomplishment worth mentioning. The song is titled 7th Street, and it seems to be an amalgamation of many of the other elements found on this record. It’s got energetic percussion, a catchy and melodic guitar line, and a ton of that classic surf feel that you’ve come to expect from Hurray by this point in the album. While his covers in this project are all undoubtedly excellent, this inclusion of an original shows that his skills go beyond just performance, and it has us excited to dive further into his original catalog.
If you’re looking for authentic surf rock ‘n roll, this is it. Matt Hurray has shown that he can capture the tones and intricacies of this genre at the highest level. This is rockin’, beachy, retro fun that instantly transports you to a seaside boardwalk in the 1960s. If you’re a fan of this genre, ‘Nofre Nuggets is unquestionably for you.
MATT HURRAY - 'NOFRE NUGGETS / STEREO STICKMAN / REBECCA CULLEN
Long-time musician and artist Matt Hurray sets the mood with ease as his latest album of surf songs hits the indie scene.
Kicking off with a crisp and clean surf-ready arena of guitars, reverb and marching rhythms, Pipeline feels fit to accompany a Tarantino montage, offering stylish musicianship and a cool, collected yet reflective mood that’s easy to get into.
This style aptly proves to be a huge calling card of the project – these seemingly freely meandering solos offering plenty in the way of catchy hooks and melodies that linger with you after listening. Mr Moto follows and is a fine example.
Afterwards, a switch to the acoustic set-up highlights another side to Matt’s artistry. Here we get a beach-ready, sunset kind of vibe, accompanied by some subtle vocal oohs and a shoulder-swaying groove that quickly calms. Always the delicate solo work returns to guide you through the scene, showcasing a clearly refined and passionate guitarist, with a limitless number of melodies and creative pathways at his disposal.
As the project goes on, Perfidia is a definite highlight for its world-music flavor, optimism and melody combined. It’s a quickly familiar, nostalgic piece, with great energy.
Apache is another for its mellow swagger and, again, engaging progression – not to mention its use of contrast between delicate brightness and sudden intensity. Then there’s the infamous Wipeout at the penultimate moment – injecting a welcomed hit of energy and faultless finger-work just at the right moment.
‘Nofre Nuggets is a great collection, and an easy playlist to turn to whenever you need it – superb musicianship, arrangements and production, and a mighty ode to some classic surf-rock.