Photo by susieq3c
I missed the Explorers Club’s show on Saturday night thanks to a family emergency (everything’s fine), but this post is overdue anyway. The Club, in case you’ve missed my previous scribblings, is the world’s best living Beach Boys tribute band, and I mean that in the best possible way. Their new album, Freedom Wind, is a 12-song safari into the Boys’ best moves, from the heavenly harmonies to the faux-Spector production.
If there’s a problem with it, it’s that we’ve heard too much of it already, and I’m not talking about Brian Wilson‘s long shadow: five of these songs appeared on various versions of an EP that’s been circulating for the past couple years, and the new songs have a tough time matching “Last Kiss” and “Forever.” The EP is worth seeking out for “Priscilla,” the band’s best Zombies impression, which probably didn’t make the cut for its lack of Beach Boysyness, and the original, vastly superior version of “Last Kiss,” but if this is your maiden voyage, the album should still probably be your first stop.
“Do You Love Me” is the best of the new material, a soaring take on “Be My Baby” by way of Wilson’s “Don’t Worry Baby.” Ballad of the year contender “If You Go” drops most of the harmonies and lets head Explorer Jason Brewer deliver a lead vocal so pretty it’d make Karen Carpenter blush. There’s one major misstep — the messy, abrasive “Honey I Don’t Know Why”? — and it’s hard to know why the band didn’t use the remastered version of “Last Kiss” that Dead Oceans posted upon signing these guys, but otherwise Freedom Wind gusts and blusters successfully. Now write a song about surfin’, fellas.
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