Songs You May Have Missed #593


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.

freedom-wind all-summer-long

And the cover art on their latest, Together, clearly seems to be a take on that of the Boys’ Friends LP:

together friends

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.

grandGrand Hotel is the most diverse of their three releases. It’s like busting out your dad’s entire 60’s album collection in one swell foop (as my own dad used to say).

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.

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