The Explorers Club: The Californian Suite

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. This first EP opens with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and finishes with two originals that evoke the genre-blending music of mid-60s radio. The marimba opening “Weight of the World” suggests Tijuana Brass, the rhythm is drawn from the Brill Building, the muted horns lean to Bacharach, and the ballad vocal has the heft of Jay and the Americans. The closing “Summer Days, Summer Nights” adds a dash of the Rascals and Grass Roots. The Carolinian and New Yorker suites (featuring “Stormy,” “Hitchin’ a Ride” and four more pre-LP mixes) are due in November and December. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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