Posts Tagged ‘Goldstar’

Explorers Club: To Sing and Be Born Again

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Well-crafted mid-60s pop covers

Relocated to Nashville, and with a band of friends and studio musicians behind him, sunshine pop mastermind Jason Brewer has released this album of covers songs in parallel to an eponymous album of original material. The titles are drawn from 1966-1968, and mix well-known hit singles with a few lesser known gems. Among the latter are Danny Hutton’s pre-Three Dog Night “Roses and Rainbows,” the Zombies’ album track “Maybe After He’s Gone,” and Orpheus’ 1968 single “Can’t Find the Time.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, by picking material that’s so firmly in his musical wheelhouse, Brewer has left himself little room to stamp these covers as his own. They’re not carbon copies, and Brewer’s vocals (both lead and backing) provide a fresh alternative to the originals, but these songs are so deeply ingrained in his musical ethos that the covers can’t help but trace the original templates. Brewer’s taste in cover material is superb, and his craftsmanship is exquisite, but as interesting as it is to hear him essay some of his favorites, it doesn’t hold the surprise of hearing his musical sensibility applied to original material. [©2020 Hyperbolium]

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Explorers Club: Explorers Club

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Bright rays of sunshine pop

Jason Brewer’s fourth album as the Explorers Club finds him relocated to Nashville and fronting friends and studio musicians, rather than a set band. The results show the strength of Brewer’s musical vision as he expands well beyond the Pet Sounds / Smiley Smile stylings of earlier albums with 60s-tinged pop that flows with the airy feel of Boettcher, Bacharach, Usher and others. And he does so without landing hard on any one; there are echoes, such as the piano of “Ruby” drawing upon Three Dog Night’s “One” and vocals suggesting the Turtles; but, winningly, the songs never linger on any one influence long enough to be branded imitative. Brewer has so deeply internalized ‘60s and ‘70s pop that his creations are inevitably shaped by the era’s melodic, instrumental, vocal and production style, without overtly copying.

The album deftly combines guitar, bass and drums with rich vocal harmonies, strings and horns, the latter suggesting the Buckinghams on “One Drop of Rain,” cooing coyly on “Don’t Cry,” and turning boozy for “Dreamin’.” The album stretches into burning neo-psych for “Somewhere Else,” adding an extra touch of surreality with its oddly time-signatured breaks. The closing “Look to the Horizon” has a timely, optimistic message of better days ahead, though with this album in hand (along with the companion volume of covers, To Sing and Be Born Again), listeners will find their mood improved today. [©2020 Hyperbolium]

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