Explorers Club “Together”
The Explorers Club are back for their third album and its safe to say the band is the closest heir apparent to Brian Wilson’s musical legacy. Listeners can expect exquisite four part harmonies, tight musicianship, and lush arrangements. The title track perfectly encapsulates the feel of The Beach Boys early ’70s “Sunflower” era and the easy West Coast doo-wop of “California’s Callin’ Ya” is another brilliant example of sun-soaked songwriting and harmonizing. “Once In A While” crams so much into the short two and a half minutes, from the “bop-did-it” backing counter rhythms to vocal “ooh-wahs” under the melody. Group founder and lead vocalist Jason Brewer does a great job setting the tone. The songs get gradually mellower, and sparser until we reach The Four Freshmen styled “Perfect Day,” which continue to focus on the group harmonic sound. Its no wonder that the team of Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Michael Williamson and Paul Runyon sound so good together. Also helping out are players from Brian Wilson’s touring band: Darian Sahanaja, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg and others.
While the albums second half keeps that flawless execution, the songs are simply less memorable and can’t complete with the “A” album side. Standouts here include the Andy Paley co-written “Don’t Waste Her Time” and the amazing “Before I’m Gone” which is very much in the mold of Brian Wilson’s “’Til I Die.” It ends with a dream montage listeners will recall from the film “Love & Mercy.” So yeah, this gets added to this years top 10 album list. Hell, if I can get an album like this every summer, I can die a happy music geek.
The Senior Service “The Girl In The Glass Case”
In a rare break, I review an instrumental album. Enjoy old film scores featuring the Hammond organ and some surf guitar? Then The Senior Service is definitely for you as each song tells its own story – no lyrics needed. The quartet of like-minded musicians share a love of John Barry and Barry Gray – and it was quickly decided to follow in the colossal footprints of those sultans of the soundtrack. With bits of flourish from brass and an occasional theremin, it conjures up those classic TV shows.
Both “Caballo Sin Nombre” and “Five Beans In The Wheel” recalls the great music of the 60’s TV show “The Prisoner.” Some tracks are simply light bossa-nova background, but others stand out enough to warrant attention; “Prisoner on The Lost Planet” and “Abandoned” have catchy rhythms and great thematic energy.