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TARANTULAS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Monster Wave...100 Feet High! (Richter) 1999
The Tarantula's Greatest Hits or...The Big Sellout! (self-released) 2004
The Tarantula's® Presents: Don't Murder Anyone...Listen to the Lovebeat's! (self-released) 2006

As the Trade Winds never quite sang, "Sedona, Arizona's a lonely town when you're the only surfer boy around." Twangcentric guitar-slinger Randy J. Shams formed the Tarantulas in Orlando, Florida, in the mid-'90s. A few years later, the trio (with drummer Chris Valentino and bassist Ken Baugh) skillfully filled Monster Wave with devoutly traditional original surf-rock instrumentals (down to the colorful titles, which include "Amazon-Legged Woman" and "Barney Rumble"), finishing the brief disc off with Ennio Morricone's thoroughly apropos "A Fistful of Dollars (Overture)."

Shams moved out west the following year, to a desert outpost near no more encouraging body of water to a musical hodad than whatever runs through Oak Creek Canyon. He didn't stop rocking, but he did draft a new drummer (Eddy Barattini) and shift gears on the Tarantulas' long-delayed second album. The Big Sellout! does begin with a slow, shuffling, reverbed instrumental, "Surf Out!," but then presents a sweetly sung tune ("Peppermint Girl") that happily marries twee indie pop melodicism to surf rock's spare, echoey instrumentation. Shams is not a great singer, but he applies himself to the task with care and enthusiasm, and gets helpful vocal assistance from the Lovebeats, aka Kelly Cole and engineer/mixer Richard Salem. The rest of the album continues that surf/pop alternation, with an epilogue of three 1997 tracks (one live and smokin') recorded back in Florida.

[Ira Robbins]