The Carolinian, The Explorers Club
Rock Ridge Music
★ ★ ★ ★
The Explorers Club is a little bit lounge and a little bit classic—reminiscent of Brian Wilson, for sure. In advance of their album, “Grand Hotel,” (due out in the spring of 2012), The Explorers Club is releasing a trio of EP “suites.” Each EP has three songs: one cover and two original tracks. The Explorers Club is working with Mark Linett, who just finished the mix on Beach Boys’ “SMiLE.” That makes perfect sense. These guys have the Beach Boys’ sound. The first suite, “The Californian,” was released earlier this year; this, the second suite, “The Carolinian,” features the Classics IV hit, “Stormy.” It is so polished—so remarkably close to the familiar sound, but with a new shine. The other two tracks, “Sweet Delights,” and “It’s No Use,” will make you want to go find a sweetheart to waste the rest of the day with. It’s a mild November—breezy and hanging onto autumn. But even if it turns nasty out (and it will), these songs make things all right. They’re short and seemingly aged. The final suite will be released in December, “The New Yorker.” Where would anyone rather be during the holiday season than New York?
SMiLE, The Beach Boys
★ ★ ★ ★
Guest contributor Jay Cullis
They say the human voice is the most remarkable of the instruments. Primal, guttural, angelic, soaring. Voices can bring a tear to my eye sooner than any trumpet, guitar, or cello. The unparalleled voices of The Beach Boys pushed serious boundaries by career’s end. That pushing — captured here in great detail — eventually crushed them. We’ve seen Smile before in various forms: the abbreviated Smiley Smile and Brian Wilson’s recreation in 2004. But here we have it as it was intended: from the mouths of The Beach Boys themselves. Toss aside surf music clichés and you’re left with bizarrely arresting pop music. Forsaking instrumentation the Boys create a-capella soundscapes unlike anything they’d ever committed to tape. Brian Wilson’s tragic genius is in full effect, as well as his crisp, clear and commanding voice (recently tested in the high registers). A masterpiece of vocal composition and instrumental orchestration, Smile is the history of America seen from its shores. Byzantine, it flits between banjo-plucked Americana, lounge swing, chain-gang chanting, and church choir hymns. Like waves crashing on a shore, songs come and go. But linger awhile and you’ll find yourself catching the big one and riding it to shore.