Beach Boy-esque: A Playlist
21st century proof that the classic sound of summer may never end.
What do you do if you are really into a thing that they don’t make anymore? How do you fill that space, sate that desire? We have all likely experienced the pain of watching things we have loved cruelly rendered obsolete at some point in our lives. Stood helplessly as industrial progress, lack of demand, and musical differences have conspired to take away the things we adore most. And sometimes you’ve just gotta move on and accept it. Freaks And Geeks is over. The Jam/Smiths/Talking Heads are never getting back together. And as soul-crushing as it is, it looks like Sun-Maid cherry chocolate yogurt raisins are officially a thing of the past (okay, I may be the only one in mourning on that one).
When it comes to music of course, there is a loophole. When a favorite band breaks up, you can pretty much count on a spate of solo albums and new projects by former members to follow in the wake. But what if those aren’t doing it for you or aren’t of the same quality as what came before? What if you just plain don’t like them? Well, in an attempt to recapture that feeling the original object of desire gave you, you might start scoping around for facsimiles.
All of which is to say, there came a point on life’s journey when listening to The Beach Boys Pet Sounds just wasn’t enough and I found myself craving more of its heavenly sundown sounds. Fortunately, as I was still in the early days of my Beach Boys curiosity when this occurred, there was a wealth of stuff I had yet to explore. And I did ultimately discover something within the band’s catalogue I loved just as much as Pet Sounds. Stage two of my Beach Boys fascination saw me fixating not a single album but on those released during a particular span of time in the band’s career, specifically 1966-1973.
While the albums released in this period were home to the usual melodically majestic Brian Wilson creations, they also featured major songwriting contributions from the rest of the band. These albums showcased the Boys at their most spaced out, ponderous, and, to these ears, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I gleefully dug in and met most of my all-time favorite Beach Boys tracks during this obsessive plunge.
It is here that a musical fetish was born, specifically my ongoing attraction to anything that sounded remotely like the Beach Boys and/or Brian Wilson of this period. The “Surf’s Up”, “Sail On Sailor” blurry, blitzed, and blissed-out Beach Boys. The weird Beach Boys.
Of course, there was only a finite amount of stuff to explore and so the supply was eventually, inevitably exhausted. And apart from Dennis Wilson’s beauteous 1977 solo debut Pacific Ocean Blue, the latter-day Beach Boys recordings, solo or otherwise generally missed the mark (that’d be my heart). Yeah, there were songs here and there but nothing had that lush sonic fire that was so omnipresent in Pet Sounds or the run of albums through 1973 that followed.
It meant that my search for the sound had to extend beyond the Beach Boys and since those nascent days of fandom, I’ve never stopped looking. During my daily trawls through Soundcloud and Bandcamp ( yeah, nerd here) I remain on high alert, keeping an ear out for this very particular strain of the sound the Boys served up on Pet Sounds and its handful of eccentric younger siblings. And when I find tracks that bring to mind that endless sundown sound I immediately squirrel them away in a playlist which I call “Beach Boy-esque”. Please forgive me for that title, I just need things to be 100% on the nose so my old ass can find them easily in my antique iTunes library.
And with that, I offer up a best of “Beach Boy-esque” featuring some beautiful and slightly off the wall mostly 21st century acolytes of that sundown sound. It’s full of tracks that have that influence, that feel, that signature Wilson thing in their bones. Sometimes it’s a faint breeze, sometimes it’s a typhoon but in every track that sublime pet sound is alive. Welcome to the endless summer.
The Beach Boy-esque Playlist:
For more hyperbolic, humiliating pop tales, deep discography dives, and glistening playlists of the best new music, please visit my blog, Picking Up Rocks!