Tuesday, November 7, 2017

YYY - A Tribute to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (2017)

Written by Bradley Johnson, posted by blog admin

It’s a powerful amount of self confidence that convinces any musician they shouldn’t just cover one of the Beach Boys’ greatest songs but, instead, cover their greatest album from beginning to end. Austin Carson has no compunctions. He further increases his chances by surrounding himself with the cream of the Minneapolis indie crop that enhance his own memorable efforts with equally intelligent and inspired performances of their own. This album, A Tribute to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, ends up being a community effort in a way and certainly reflects the outrageously high level of musical talent working out of and banging their way around the Minnesota music scene. They are, to a man and woman, performers and musicians who understand this material and uniformly respect it. It is, however, equally clear that the aforementioned respect is also the basis from which they are willing to remake the album in a way more fitting of their personal purposes. It’s a staggeringly successful effort.

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” has the same effect on the opening of YYY’s tribute as it does on the original. It ushers listeners in to this musical world without any wasted preamble and lays down some early “ground rules” of a sort. We can expect YYY to use synthesizers and other keyboard based instruments to dramatic and even cinematic effect, in essence creating soundscapes for listeners, while still convincingly nailing down the vocal parts – if not outright, at least in spirit. The earnestness of the speaker in “That’s Not Me” really comes through in how YYY handles the song’s vocal and puts a spotlight on it as the key factor in the song. Ornate and more traditional electronic fueled pop sounds compete for their share of the aural landscape on “Don’t Talk” featuring the talented Elle PF. The vocal stands out as the song’s sole consistent thread from beginning to end as the arrangement explores a variety of interpretative textures. There’s always a certain amount of wistfulness surrounding the classic “Sloop John B” that covers often fail to capture but this isn’t one of them. Instead, the elegiac spirit of the original comes through here in a clear and sensitive singing performance with a musical arrangement tuned to just the right sound and mood. Lydia Liza and Cool Moon are big difference makers on the song “Hang On to Your Ego” and give it a distinctive sound compared to the original. “Here Today” veers wildly from near ethereal synthesizer laced orchestrations into stomping and joyous pop. The album’s title song affords YYY an opportunity to craft a near virtuosic array of synth sounds into an expansive sounding, but ultimately brief, near instrumental. It’s an excellent contrast to what he offers with the last track “Good Vibrations”. Arguably the band’s most identifiable song, YYY opts to keep some basic elements going from the original and Al Church’s contributions on guitar are very tasty. His tribute album is much more than mere tribute. It’s an emphatic statement about his own talents and aspirations that sets the bar high for Austin Carson’s future.

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