The Explorers Club they sounded just like a Beach Boys tribute band so I decided that I shouldn't bother with them because the originals were always the best in the world at what they did. However, a closer listen will tell you that this talented quintet are what the Wilsons, Love, Jardine, and Johnston could have been all these years if they hadn't allowed their boatload of personal and business problems to get in the way of the music.
The Charleston, SC band has just released their second full length CD, Grand Hotel, and it's better than every studio record The Beach Boys released after Holland in 1973. This indie band's music is straight out of their heroes' post-surfing, mid-to-late 60s years. All fifteen tracks are originals co-written by primary lead singer Jason Brewer. It's an album the Hall of Famers should have made, but never did, so The Explorers Club are only a tribute band because of their obvious love of the much older, famous Californians and not because they play their idols' work.
Lyrically, The Club's songs are not intricate but they are not juvenile either (meaning they're not writing songs about drag racing, riding the waves, and girls on the beach while old enough to collect Social Security checks). Musically, their arrangements are neither as sophisticated nor as eccentric as Brian Wilson's best work. Instead, they offer up a lighthearted version of the sunny Southern California sound the time period was known for.
The album opens with an instrumental track, "Acapulco (Sunrise)," that is loaded with flutes and percussion sounds stolen from the title track from Pet Sounds. "Weight of the World" has an introduction that is a dead ringer for an old Dionne Warwick song. "Run Run Run" opens with a theme that sounds like music from an old 60s TV show. There is even one song, "Summer Days, Summer Nights," with the same name as a 1965 Beach Boys album. The title track is another instrumental reminiscent of Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass.
The album was produced by Mark Linnett, The Beach Boys sound engineer, who obviously knows something about how to get the most out of bands like The Explorers Club.
You don't have to love The Beach Boys to fully appreciate Grand Hotel but it sure helps.