Written by Frank McClure, posted by blog admin
Austin Carson’s A Tribute to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds – recorded under the name YYY – is sort of an “all star” Minneapolis album. The Twin Cities based musician recruited a host of top notch indie talent from his local burg and surrounding environs to help realize his dream of honoring one of pop music’s most decorated releases. This is far from a slavish attempt at recreating the glories of the mid-sixties Beach Boys sound. Instead, Carson brings a number of musical elements to bear, namely electronic instrumentation, and takes on a nearly post modern, deconstructionist take replete with guitar parts and unlikely instruments like xylophone. The powerful creativity he brings to this project is seamlessly meshed with the talents of his guest stars and it keeps enough of a connection to the original material that casual fans and hardcore alike will appreciate and respect his enormous efforts.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” is a perfect illustration, and not the only one, of how YYY can bring together his own musical inclinations into ideal harmony with Brian Wilson’s writing. The vocals have a surprisingly live, intimate quality that’s recorded in such a way they exude warmth and have just enough of a jagged, human edge to pull you in. It’s one of the most iconic songs on A Tribute to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and gives a clear opening signal that lovers of the album are in good hands with YYY. “That’s Not Me” starts off with a heavily digitized flurry of synth notes before launching properly into the song and YYY’s singing is spot on with a deft mix of intelligent phrasing and youthful appeal. “Don’t Talk” echoes the original while adopting a thoroughly modern sheen and Elle PF’s singing invokes a satisfying number of moods for one of the, perhaps, underappreciated tunes on Pet Sounds. There’s some interesting synthesizer textures exploring the possibilities on the song “I’m Waiting for the Day” and it goes further than most tracks on this tribute towards crafting something entirely new from Wilson’s original intention. Guests LOTT and Zinnia make their impact felt, as well, but YYY should garner the lion’s share of attention thanks to his unusual arrangement for the song.
Al Church’s vocal contributions to “Sloop John B” are simply lovely. Just breathtaking. He pops up in a few places on A Tribute to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, but the guitar and singing he offers to this venerable classic will please those intimately familiar with this tune and even those with a casual acquaintance. Matthew Jon is another guest star who exerts a sizable influence on the final result and his guest vocal turn on “God Only Knows” makes for enjoyable listening. “Caroline No” has a dreamier, even vaguely hallucinatory, feel than the other performances on this release and benefits a great deal from Jenessa LaSota’s aching, sensitive vocal. There’s some post production effects added to her voice, but it only strengthens the atmospherics she conjures rather than submerging them in needless aural swill. The peak of the Beach Boys’ original and YYY’s tribute alike comes, naturally, with the finale “Good Vibrations” and Al Church makes his presence felt once again with ace guitar lines that add a lot to this curtain closer. This is a marvelous release that virtually assures Austin Carson will gain some much needed notice in the indie music world.