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Luna Lee breathes new life into the classic rock of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others by blending the modern with the traditional, and the western with the eastern. The results are dazzling. As she explains on her website:
The gayageum that I play is an ancient, traditional Korean instrument made for the purpose of playing traditional Korean music. My ancestors played the gayageum in a small room, so the sound did not need to be loud. But my music is performed with modern instruments such as the drums, bass and the guitar. So I had to redevelop my gayageum so that the sound would match that of the modern instrument. I had to increase the volume and pressure, develop tone and increase the sustain sound. And hoping to express the sound of gayageum more diversely like that of the guitar, I had to study guitar effectors and amplifiers and test them to see if they would fit to the sound of the gayageum. Playing modern music on a traditional instrument was not an easy process. I have come a long way from the beginning but still have a long way to go!
Most amazing of all is how she does it all without any trace of that ubiquitous rock guitarist painface that I assumed was necessary to hit those high notes…
01 Oct 2016 Leave a comment
The Explorers Club: “California’s Callin’ Ya” (2016)
Perhaps no band has paid more earnest homage to the Beach Boys than the Explorers Club. I mean, check out the cover of their 2008 debut Freedom Wind alongside its obvious point of reference, the Beach Boys’ All Summer Long.
And the cover art on their latest, Together, clearly seems to be a take on that of the Boys’ Friends LP:
In between they released Grand Hotel in 2012, on which they actually commissioned Beach Boys engineer (and liner note writer extraordinaire) Mark Linnett to do the mixing.
But interestingly, while Grand Hotel contains Beatles-era musical references aplenty, it seems everyone but the Fab Four are called back. And that’s ok–the Beatles have been paid tribute countless times. It’s far more fun to hear echoes of less ubiquitous 60’s artists such as the Association, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, the Grass Roots, the Cowsills, the Turtles, the Fortunes and others. Even 60’s lounge pop gets a reverential nod.
But Beach Boy harmonies are a staple of the Explorers Club sound, and on Together they’ve constructed an entire album around the songwriting style and sound textures of late 60’s/early 70’s Beach Boys music. Throughout the album, the Jason Brewer-led South Carolina band check one box after another: theremin, bass harmonica, flute, vibraphone and much more. The layered harmonies, the delightful key modulations–it’s all here.
“California’s Callin’ Ya” isn’t the most ambitious tune on the collection. But it’s perhaps the most appealingly melodic, and captures the southern California warmth that radiated from Brian Wilson’s most enduring work.
Note: A nice touch on Explorers Club CDs is the faux vinyl wear marks on the cover, ticking one more box for nostalgic fans of 60’s pop.