The Explorers Club: Grand Hotel

A masterful pastiche of ‘60s and ‘70s pop sounds

The Explorers Club’s debut, 2008’s Freedom Wind, set a very high bar with its unerring evocation of the Beach Boys’ most sophisticated period. Incredibly, the band’s second effort manages to top their first, with a seamless pastiche of ‘60s and ‘70s pop sounds that suggests the band’s mastermind, Jason Brewer, is a twenty-first century savant of Brian Wilson, Curt Boettcher, Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and others. He lovingly mashes riffs, instrumental sounds and melodic structures into confections that will spin the heads of those who once spun the AM dial in search of great pop. He lovingly cops the opening bars of “Up, Up and Away,” evokes the “over you” hook of “Goin’ Out of My Head,” and drops an electric sitar into “Bluebird” that’s worthy of Reggie Young’s work on “Cry Like a Baby.”

You’ll hear the rolling rhythms of Glen Campbell, the classical drama of Eric Carmen (as well as the bubblegum of the Raspberries), and spy music that’s equal parts Herb Alpert, Ron Grainer and the Ventures. Brewer is a fetching vocalist, with a high end that evokes Carl Wilson’s riveting alto, but it’s the instant, insistent catchiness of his melodies that immediately hooks your ear. What makes it sticky are sophisticated arrangements that evoke the forward lean of radio’s best turn-of-the-70s pop – sounds that strike the ear as both nostalgic and still-new at the same time. It’s a dichotomy that suggests these musical styles weren’t played out by the time they gave way to whatever was next. The Explorers Club plays as both a brilliantly executed homage and a lively continuation of something that’s still full of life. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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