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Author Topic: The new Explorers Club album 'Together' is out!  (Read 793 times)
krabklaw
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« on: June 24, 2016, 10:48:04 AM »

Here’s some good news if you loved The Explorers Club’s first album ‘Freedom Wind’, but were less enthralled by their more varied 60s/70s Pop-spectrum sophomore album ‘Grand Hotel’. The Explorers Club’s new album ‘Together’ for the most part remains firmly entrenched in the Beach Boys’ sound. It’s unquestionably an album made by Beach Boys fans for Beach Boys fans. The album takes a turn half-way through, welding the beautiful melodies and harmonies of the BBs’ classic 60s sound to their 70s ‘BBs Love You’ aesthetics but never strays too far from homage. Here I go track-by track:

Together- EC’s take on Wild Honey complete with wailing synth line begins deceptively before kicking in with the pounding drums for the chorus. Wah wah guitars add some funk with a Carl-esque soulful vocal finish. 5/5

California Callin’-  Recalls Good Timin’ which is a good thing indeed. Completely relaxed feel like a lazy afternoon. 5/5

Once In A While- This cuts departs Beach Boys territory a bit with a dreamy echo-y chorus that is more Curt Boetcher than Brian Wilson. Still, this is fantastic Sunshine Pop. 5/5

Be Around- Who wants a ‘Friends’ homage waltz that even throws in the original’s modulations and trademark bass harmonica? I do! Ido! Beautiful. 5/5

Gold Winds- This is slice of 70s California soft rock with a hint of Country, though still replete with plenty of obvious BBs influence. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine the Eagles recording this. 4/5

Perfect Day- This is a perfectly lovely Four Freshmen style vocal piece that is unfortunately presented in mono, and disrupts the album’s carefully-crafted aesthetic and flow. It should have been stuck at the end of the album. 4/5

Quietly- This is where the album takes a sudden left turn into to ‘BBs Love You’ land with synthesizers starting to hold up the arrangements. If ‘Hushabye’ were recorded in 1976 it might sound something like this. EC may be fascinated by 70’s era BBs music, but on this album they always still manage to include the innocence and beauty of their earlier era. 5/5

My Friend- The ‘Love You’ style continues. Though I hear some some decidedly un-Wilson like chords, if I had any doubts that we are still in ‘Love You’ territory, the unexpected stomp of the ‘Ding-Dang’-ish coda dispels any doubts.

No Strings Attached- If, in the mid-70s, Brian Wilson sat down to write a song, and thought  that he would try to emulate brother Dennis’  ‘Forever’ it might have come out something like this. Unashamedly romantic  sap. 4/5

Don’t Waste Her Time- This is Wilson welded onto Burt Bacharach. The arrangement is distinctly BW synth-based, but the song would have probably been more at home on the last EC album (maybe not surprising since this track dates back a few years). Still, it’s fantastic. 5/5

Before I’m Gone- Ahhh! They saved the best for last.  This homage  to ‘Til I Die’ (even the title tips this off) finds the synth sounds of the previous several tracks kicked to the curb for a lovely album-closing sunburst finish. With beautiful vocals to die for, the song resolves with repetitive intertwining harmony lines much like the BBs classic. 6/5

So ‘Together’ is an excellent album that could have used a better mix to punch things up. Though it’s mostly lacking in direct impact, it’s an album for relaxing to on hot summer afternoons. Let it’s laid-back vibe wash over you.

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kwan_dk
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2016, 01:40:31 PM »

It's a wonderful album which I find is only held Down a little bit by two or three songs that aren't that interesting. I agree about the mix - could have been better, punchier. But still, up to their usual high standards. Great band!

Here's a personal review posted on my blog:

https://cuecastanets.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/review-together/
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Lonely Summer
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2016, 03:48:18 PM »

I haven't heard much by these guys, but I was unaware they copied the Beach Boys sound so much. I thought they were equally influenced by the Association, and maybe Paul Revere and the Raiders (saw them performing as Mark Lindsay's backup band 4 years ago).
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petsoundsnola
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2016, 01:59:47 PM »

Excellent, review Krabklaw!

I agree with the vast majority of your thoughts.  I only wish some of the songs were longer.  I am one of the fans that actually thought Grand Hotel was an improvement over Freedom Wind, and I appreciated their expanding horizons and Bacharach-Association-Alpert influences which were more evident on that album.

With the new album, the intricate vocal harmonies are at the forefront, whereas on Grand Hotel, the focus was more on the instrumentation.

I'd say the only "weak" song on Together is My Friend.  That one really doesn't do it for me.  My current favorite track is Gold Winds.
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RangeRoverA1
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2016, 12:40:24 PM »

Thanks, Mr. klaw. Enjoyed the review. Think I may like this album.
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petsoundsnola
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2016, 06:45:07 AM »

After repeated listens, I really like this album.  The harmonies are flawless and intricate.  The songwriting continues to be top-notch.

But...

I still prefer Grand Hotel.  That album was such a growth and departure from the previous album, and really stood on its own, breaking away from the BB-comparisons of Freedom Wind.

When I first heard Grand Hotel, I was in shock at the change in style and direction from Freedom Wind, but ultimately, it grew on me and I appreciated it as its own achievement. 

Maybe I am experiencing the same shock since Together is such a departure from Grand Hotel.  Perhaps I'll change my opinion in the future.
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Vega-Table Man
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2016, 06:51:00 AM »

I have the vinyl LP on order, but got a digital version right away. I concur, it's a nice album and if you liked their first two you should definitely check this one out.
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