The words "surf's up" keep coming to mind when I listen to bassist J.A. Granelli and Mr. Lucky's Gigantic. Though it may seem an odd comparison, the music here has that rough-around-the-edges groove mode of long ago guitar/organ-based surf music, a very early sixties (pre-Beatles) Southern California type of garage rock. These minor hit records from regional instrumental groups served as soundtracks for 8mm surf documentary movie makers who traveled from high school gym to local community centers with their now laughably antiquated projectors and pull down movie screens. Bruce Brown's Endless Summer was simply the most successful of these movies. There were scores of lower budget surf flicks out there at the time. And there was small concurrent surf music scene to ride the wave with them.
Having said that, it's a good guess that New York-based J.A. Granelli was influenced not at all by that sound, though "Happy Pt 1," with its crunchy guitar licks and fluid organ groove seems as though it could serve as a backing to a longboarder sliding down a long left at Trestles.
Gigantic is an engaging listen, a mix of loose-jointed funk and R&B, with some reggae hints thrown into the brew, in addition to a charmingly reworked pop tune, "If I Can't Have You"; a set suffused with a relaxed insouciance of the old time surf tunes; a hundred and eighty degree departure from Granelli's blacksmith jazz on Iron Sky (Love Slave Records, 2003).
And I have no idea who Mr. Lucky is, other than the name of this group.
Track Listing: Merle, Happy Pt 1, Gigantic, Again, 13.5, Happy Pt 2, Sock Monkey, If I Can't Have You, Pipe Dreams, 13.5 (dub)
Personnel: J.A. Granelli--bass and piccolo bass; David Tronzo--slide guitar; Jamie Shaft--organ, mellotron, diego Voglino--drums