Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Explorers Club - Together (Review)

The Explorers Club will release their 3rd full length album, Together, June 24th, 2016 on Goldstar Recordings. You can pre-order the album here, and listen to the new song, “Quietly”, here,

An incredible thing happens when you get some of the best musicians in the world together to record an album, and that’s exactly what the Explorers Club have done with their latest album, Together, set to release June 24th. The Explorers Club have recruited Wyatt Funderburk, the bassist and lead songwriter for the powerpop band Second Saturday and a fabulous solo artist in his own right ( to join the band, alongside Jason Brewer, Kyle Polk, Michael Williamson, and Paul Runyon. The result has been one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in my life.

Every moment of Together feels as if you were listening to a long forgotten unreleased Beach Boys masterpiece, from the funky self-titled opener (which features a theremin!), right to the album’s closer, the lush and gorgeous Before I’m Gone, every moment of this album is perfection.

The songwriting on display here is clearly the product of a seasoned master. Jason Brewer, the chief songwriter and lyricist of the band is a student of all the great (and obscure) masters of the 60s and 70s pop scene, such as Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Burt Bacharach, Joe Raposo, Paul Williams, Rod Argent, Harry Nilsson, etc. However, after all this careful study he is too clever to merely copy, he is instead forging his own path using the tools given to him by those great legends. It is really a pleasure to hear the excellent vocal arrangements on every song of this record. In fact, I would support the release of a “Vocals Only” version of Together!

Jason is also at the top of his game vocally as he demonstrates on songs like California’s Callin’ Ya, My Friend, No Strings Attached, and Don’t Waste Her Time. However, the album is truly a team effort on the vocal front, as demonstrated on songs like Quietly, which features Wyatt singing lead on the verses, Mike singing the chorus with Paul, and Jason singing the bridge. The result is one of the strongest songs on the entire album.

Another great song on the album is the aforementioned Don’t Waste Her Time. It begins with jingle bells jingling over a “Wonderful Christmas Time”-esque synthesizer, showcasing some of the the variety of instruments the band has at their disposal. By the time the chorus comes the ears are treated to a symphony of sounds to hone in on and dissect. There really is a lot going on here with the vocal harmonies, guitars, piano, drums, etc. It reminds me of the Four Seasons in the way that their backing singers would be singing a line line “Walk, walk, walk, walk, run, run, run...”, while Frankie Valli would be belting out his lines at the upper ranges of his falsetto. Every ounce of the raw power that Frankie Valli, Ben E. King, and Percy Sledge mustered in their finest love ballads is also conjured in full here. It’s a moving piece of music that has been running through my head since I first heard it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also discuss the brilliance of Be Around. The song begins with a mid tempo piano shuffle reminiscent of the Beach Boys album Friends, but gradually adds additional layers of complexity such as bells, vocal harmonies, counter vocal harmonies, bass harmonicas, organ, cellos, slide guitars and a steady marching drum beat that grows more intense. The lyrics are endlessly upbeat and tell of a successful romance and the wonderful feeling of being with the one you love. An incredible treat also lies after the second chorus in the form of a sensational string section features violins, cellos and violas! There is some use of strings and horns through Together, but the use is extremely tasteful and never detracts from the star of the show, which is always the vocals.

Every song on Together is worthy of it’s own in depth analysis, but I hope it suffices to say that this is a must buy for anyone who has ever enjoyed a song by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Zombies, The Carpenters, The Turtles, Bread, The Bee Gees, Chicago, Simon and Garfunkel or any of the other great pop masters.

Listening to such a solid record makes me wonder if, in a year when Chris Stapleton is exploding on the charts playing a brand of country pop that was last profitable in the 1970s, could The Explorers Club do the same?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rocketship Interview

One of my favorite bands of all time, Rocketship, sat down on Skype for an hour where we discussed his influences, music and what is coming next for the band Rocketship! Check out the interview, then check out their music at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Surf School Dropouts - Summer is a State of Mind

The Surf School Dropouts are a surf pop band from Denmark who have released a new album called "Summer is a State of Mind". The band has 4 members, Andreas Jacobsen: vocals, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums; Christian Bendix: vocals, guitar and bass; Jari Nielsen: vocals; Martin Jensen; vocals.

The album is heavily inspired by 60s surf groups like Jan and Dean, the Sun Rays and the Beach Boys from 1962 after being visited by the Beach Boys from 2012.

The Dropouts are committed to trying to recapture the sound that the Beach Boys invented in 1961 and perfected until 1965, only to abandon it in 1966. They are trapped in that 5 years between 1961-1966, but the only problem is that it is 2012 and they are from Denmark and not California. Having said that, the musicianship on the album is purely fantastic, but the vocals, despite being always completely in key are often underwhelming.

Bands that rely on vocal harmonies like Queen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Explorers Club or The Carpenters would overdub their vocals sometimes up to 80 times to create a very thick and lush sound, but it appears like the Dropouts are lacking in the vocal department on this album. They hit all the right notes, but the vocals just appear "thin". Despite this one drawback, the album is a nostalgic trip and picks up where Shut Down Volume 2 left off.

The album begins with the epic "Summer is a State of Mind". The song sounds almost exactly like "Don't Worry Baby" in the first couple seconds with clean guitar strumming, mid tempo drums and 4 part vocal harmonies before shifting into something more unique. The song has a typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus beginning but gets very interesting in the middle of the song with an organ breakdown with wood blocks serving as percussion. This middle section has great vocals and has a very interesting shift back into the chorus before finally ending with an A Cappella coda. This first song sets the mood for what the rest of the album will deliver.

Key standouts on the album are Follow The Sun, with its harpsichord background and Turtles-esque vocals, Beach Bound, with its ukelele chords and busy vocal harmonies and The Road Ahead of Me, a heart-felt ballad with a great theremin riff in it.

I would highly recommend this album if you want to hear the Beach Boys from 1962 after meeting the Beach Boys from 2012.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Emerald City Love Song Review

One of the most important bands in the world to me is Sweet Diss and the Comebacks.

They have a new album out March 1st on Itunes called Emerald City Love Song.

Their lead singer and song-writer, Nate Reinauer, has been my friend for over 5 years and he has taught me almost everything that I know about recording music. I first heard Sweet Diss on myspace (embarrassing) years ago right after their first album came out and I was so amazed by them that I found Nate's instant messaging handle and talked to him. Since then we have spent hundreds of hours talking about song writing, recording, the Beach Boys and pop music and I doubt that I would have ever finished an entire album of my own music (let alone 3) if it weren't for Nate Reinauer and his friendship.

I admit that I love Sweet Diss and the Comebacks a lot and I think that you should love them too. They draw their inspirations from a wide range of artists including the Beach Boys, The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, The Ramones, Linus Of Hollywood, Green Day, B.C. Camplight and many more. They will add something that you never knew was missing to your playlist.

Sweet Diss and the Comebacks released their debut album, Coulda Been Worse in 2006 and have remained relatively quiet (with the exception of 2 EPs) since then, but now the band is back with 14 new tracks that surpass the songs on their first album in every way imaginable.

This album is amazes me in a lot of ways! I love the autobiographical nature of the lyrics; every song appears to represent something that was actually felt or experience by Nate. I love how the instruments sound! Nate played almost every instrument on this album and it is a testament to his huge talent. I love the mixing and production of this album as well; you can tell years of work went into this album. Sweet Diss and the Comebacks are making a comeback and its about time!

I am going to explain how I feel about each song in this album below then link to the band's site and facebook!

1. Twenty Something - This is an A Cappella intro with every voice sung by Nate. He sings about what he did at age 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 explaining how his life has gotten worse as time goes by. The vocal work in this song is outstanding and I can't stop listening to it

2. Never Stop Wooing You - This is a full length rock song about loving your girlfriend. The intro guitar line is sick and anthemic and the chorus is undeniably catchy. The verse of this song is kind of bluesy and southern rock, but the chorus is straight radio friendly pop. There is also a great guitar solo in this song and a satisfying bridge before the final chorus! I like to go "Woo" whenever I feel happy about something, so it feels nice to know that someone else does this too.

3. Maybe Someday - This song starts off very heavy with maximum distortion on the guitar and a great riff for 2 guitars. The verses are very catchy though and feature vocal harmonies that I found myself singing along to. Right around 2 minutes there is a breakdown that you might find yourself repeating over and over again. This is one of the finest songs on the album.

4. Hey Indie Girl - The beginning of this song sounds like a demo with Nate singing into a cheap microphone playing on a kid's keyboard, but quickly kicks into a driving pop rock song that reminds me of Sum 41 or Blink 182. I think this song has one of the most solid melodies and chord structures on the whole album. There is a great riff after the first and second chorus that I want to figure out on my guitar. The chorus of this song is amazing and I love listening to Nate sing it. Finally, the entire song is one big build up and the final chorus is so exhilarating when the key of the song suddenly shifts! You must listen!

5. You Make My Day - This album has a huge amount of positivity in it and this is one of the album's most positive. The song sounds like a Barenaked Ladies B-side, in the best way possible. It's so nice to hear such a positive song. I love everything about this song and it is incredibly smile inducing.

6. Dear Small Town - This song starts off as a very fast rock song about being displeased with living in a small town and wanting to move to a larger city. This song isn't my favorite section of the album, but it has some awesome bass playing and great vocal harmonies. You can also hear Nate's high voice in this part of the song. The second half of the song is slower and features "bop bop bop" backing vocals. The second half of this song is so much better than the first. Also, I notice that after this song every song on the album is about being in Seattle. I think that makes this kind of a concept album.

7. Cherry Park - Cherry Park is the name of a neighborhood in Seattle. This song however, is a bit of a lounge pop song played on piano with bass guitar and bells. This isn't my favorite song on the album but the piano playing is outstanding and the ending has a beautiful sounding guitar solo that I love to death.

8. KMK - Nate's girlfriend's name is Kelsey and this is a grand pop song for her. It features ukelele, horns and strings and reminds me of the Heavy Blinkers. It is extremely happy and I can always count on this song for a smile.

9. Seattle's Best I: Spring In My Heart - A few years ago Nate and I wanted to write a 10 minute long song and he showed me the demo of this song. I was floored then and I am still amazed by it and I am so glad that he is finally releasing it. The concept of this song is that Nate has a dream about a beautiful girl and how happy he is to see her. The music in this song is outstanding and sounds a bit italian. It ends with an alarm clock waking him from the dream BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.

10. Seattle's Best II: Subliminal Girls - This is when he wakes up from the dream and tells his friend Jim about the girl. The two come up with a plan to retrace his steps and find out who this girl is that he dreamed about. They find her in a coffee shop. The music is adventurous and the vocals are some of the very best Nate has EVER done (and he knows how to sing). I love the idea of writing a story song. I was always impressed by that style and Sweet Diss have really taken it to a new level here.

11. Seattle's Best III: Peaches and Pears - This song is very different from the rest of the album. It features an accordion tooting the notes to this song behind some piano doodles and Nate singing about how much he likes that girl. I like the creativity here, but maybe this song wasn't a perfect execution. It might just be TOO different from everything around it.

12. Seattle's Best IV: My Barista - This song begins with guitar strumming and a thick vocal harmony that gets louder. The first half of the song features Nate playing an acoustic guitar singing about his beloved barista, "Lisa". The second half of this song gets really good, really fast when a very emotional piano part comes in. The song continues the piano riff while a marching snare drum enters. This continues and builds into a rock and roll ending with that piano part playing again behind loud power chords and crashing drums. The song ends by repeating the main chorus of Subliminal Girls, thus linking the two songs.

13. Seattle's Best V: Color of Love - I wanted to mention fact as little as possible, but I sing in this song and so does my friend Audrey Kauch. Nate asked me to do some backing vocals a while ago and this song is the result. This is the only really electronic song on the album and it was very funny to be a part of this album! This song discusses how the relationship between Nate and his dream girl begins.

14. Nobody But She - This songs begins a bit like a ballad featuring an acoustic guitar being fingered picked while Nate sings about a girl asking "Who but this girl could love me? Nobody but she?" while he whistles the melody proving accompaniment. This song also has the line "Emerald City Love Song" in it, which is where the name of the album comes from. It reminds me of Elliott Smith a lot, because of some interesting chord changes near the 2 minute mark. Around the 3 minute mark the acoustic guitar stops and a solo piano plays a variation of the guitar riff. This piano riff also sounds like Elliott Smith! The ending of the song features a piano, guitar, harmonica and shakers with Nate singing. Its a terrific song and I think it is a perfect ending to the album.

Emerald City Love Song is a deeply personal statement by Nathan Reinauer and deserves a few hundreds listens, just to give it a chance.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Explorers Club - GRAND HOTEL - Review

HEAVENLY - Go there and tell them you like them!

In case you don't know yet, I love the Explorers Club. I am ecstatic about them. I saw them in Boston on Valentine's Day and I am going to post a lot of pictures from the show in this review. There are videos below.

When I first heard them I was sitting in a college dorm room when I came across the song "Don't Forget The Sun". My jaw hit the floor. I had wondered how they were able to accomplish such a feat. This was when I had just started my Beach Boys blog and was HEAD OVER HEELS in love with pop music. I knew that the greatest songs in the world were ones that you could hear only once and never forget. That immediately described the Explorers Club.

I still haven't forgotten Don't Forget The Sun and I still listen to their debut album "Freedom Wind" all the time. Some of my favorite songs ever are on that album. I also love their 6 song demo with the song Priscilla on it. That song still amazes me too. I have showed a lot of people this band and even though some people dismiss them for sounding too much like the Beach Boys, if you listen longer you can't deny that there is so much more going on.

The band's principle songwriter, Jason Brewer and the rest of the band draw inspiration from hundreds of classic acts including (but not limited to) Elvis Presley, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Phil Spector, Led Zeppelin and The Zombies. The Explorers Club are not trying to sound like any one band in particular, but really, they are trying to re-popularize and revive an unforgettable sound that tragically has died off in the last 30 years.

The 1980s and 1990s brought about more and more artists and bands that did not form in a garage or in a basement, but rather in a record label Executive's office. They signed contracts to obey the strict commandments of the label and their goal was to make the most money possible. They could sing well, but they did not write, produce, mix, master, print or distribute any of their music. I'm referring to bands like the Backstreet Boys, New Kids On The Block, etc. However, the Explorers Club practice, perform, play and perfect their own sound. Hearing them makes me have faith that in the future, music could be free of fake performers.

The Explorers Club have had a very busy year. The 6 piece group from South Carolina have released 3 EPs, one full length album and toured the country. They have signed on to Rock Ridge Music (Reel Big Fish are on the same label) and have made friends with some of the best musicians in the world (Thank Yous on their album include Probyn Gregory, Andy Paley, Jeffrey Foskett and Brian Wilson). It has been 4 years since their last album came out and the wait for "GRAND HOTEL" has been more than worth it.

It's almost as though the Explorers Club have taken it upon themselves to create a record up to the standards of even the most discerning pop geek. It was mixed by Mark Linett (The guy who did the remastered version of Pet Sounds and also worked with Brian Wilson, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction and Randy Newman); the vocals are lush, multi-layered and pitch perfect; every song on the album is great; the bass guitar playing is excellent; there are tons of vocal harmonies; the flow of the album is emotional and finally you get to hear the deep voice of Wally, the band's bass player who sings on 3 of the album's best songs Run, Run, Run, It's No Use and Sweet Delights.

The first song on the album, Alcupulco Sunrise, truly sets the mood for the entire album. You begin by hearing the sound of waves crashing on a beach followed by gulls cawing above. When the music begins it becomes clear to the listener's mind that this music represents a tropical part of Mexico. Its incredible how this music is so associative of that location. The bass line in this song reminds me of work by Brian Wilson/Paul McCartney from the late 60s, especially the way the notes bounce so effortlessly up and down. It is a straight up kick-ass bass line. Flutes and wood blocks give way to a steel guitar then more waves and gulls end this piece.

The next song, "Run, Run, Run" is the single from this album and it is obvious why. The beginning of this song is rather anthemic and the vocals by bass player Wally are astounding, sounding great with the mix by Mark Linett. The real treasure of this song is the chorus and its backing vocals by all the members of the band singing "Run, Run, Run". It sounds fantastic and is undeniably catchy. Another highlight of this song is the female choir vocals during the third verse. The bridge of the song is musically very interesting and the bongos in the background of this song add a lot to the speed of this song (because the song is about running). Finally, the horns in the song and keyboard riffs toward the end are very nice. There is a lot going on in this song and it will remain a favorite of mine forever.

The third song on the album, "Anticipatin'" is another amazing song. It has a southern rock feel to it, but is TRULY catchy and original. The chorus of this song is addictive. The vocals are high-pitched and the melody is outstanding. The bridge of this song is exciting as well in the way that the volume drops slightly and the rhythm switches up. This is a solid song and the vocals by Jason are great. He has a way of emulating the voice of Elvis and this is one great example of that.

The fourth song on the album, "Bluebird" begins like a Cream song, but changes to a pleasant guitar jangler that sounds a bit like driving alone on a country road. The chorus however is completely pop and features an organ blasting the main chords backed up by harmony vocals singing "Aah's". DAVE sings this song and it is one of the band's prettiest vocals so far. Dave should sing lead more sounds like he was really into it. This song has an AM gold sound and I believe it would have went to #1 in 1976. I truly do.

The fifth song on the album, "Grand Hotel" begins with minor power chords! Oh no! But its okay- there are cheerful horns playing loudly in the mix over the minor chords, so it sounds a bit like a south of the border chase scene. There are no lyrics in this song, but the horns basically serve as the vocal line. It is a great song and the melody is hard to forget. The bass line in this song is particularly interesting as part of it is straight 4/4 notes, but other parts are adventurous riffs. I would like to hear the bass part isolated. There is also a nice guitar solo in this song and delightful organ work. This is an interlude to reaffirm the Mexican theme.

The sixth song, "Go For You" starts with a grand vocal harmony that bursts into a rock song sung by Jason. The song reveals itself as a masterpiece during the chorus where the entire band chants "Oh girl I can go for you, if you go for me, Oh woah oh! Honey now!". It is perfect pop. There is incredible horn playing throughout the song and a great bridge that sounds a bit like lounge music. There is also an amazing horn solo after the bridge that plays around with the chorus melody. Then the final chorus has the horns backing up the band singing the song with "Come on baby's!" shouted by Dave. I am telling you, this song is stupendous.

The seventh song on the album, "Any Little Way", is another quick little interlude. It sounds a bit like a 1970s news theme or some kind of television intro. The vocals are very sweet though and I think this song will always be a testament to the sound that the Explorers Club have when they blend their voices.

The eighth song on the album gets a lot more serious. "It's No Use" is a ballad sung by Wally and one of the highlights of the whole album. I have ALWAYS particularly loved the ballads by The Explorers Club, but this one is even better than "If You Go" and "Safe Distance" off of their first album. Wally sings so sincerely and the music is ultra motown and smooth. The sound of this track is reminiscent of records by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and The Temptations. I love this song.

The ninth song on the album, "Sweet Delights", is a perfect example of Wally's talents in the band. The bass line in this song is fantastic; it truly defines the song. Pianos and guitars strum the basic structure of the song while the bass guitar gives it life. There is an interesting whistling/horn solo in the middle of this song. The vocals on this song are outstanding and the little extras from bells and keyboards make this song stand out a lot.

The tenth song on the album "I've Been Waiting" is another great rock song. It features Beatles-esque "La La La La" backing vocals and the chorus of the song features E.L.O. style backing vocals that drop pitch and repeat words from the main vocal line. I love E.L.O. and this song really makes me feel like I am listening to Out Of The Blue or A New World Record. There is also a creative solo section of this song and a nice breakdown too. Jeff Lynne would be proud.

The eleventh song on the album "It's You" is another gorgeous ballad sung by Jason Brewer. It sounds like he is singing straight to his lady. I think the Explorers Club must enjoy black soul bands from the 60s, because this song sounds like the Sound of Philadelphia. This is a perfect, slow pop song that you can get your groove on to. There is beautiful slide guitar in this song and some gentle keyboard riffs that add to the rhythm of the song as well. The ending has Jason singing "Yes I am ready".

The twelfth song, "Alcapulco Sunset", repeats the beginning melody from the opening song but expectedly changes it up. There are gorgeous sounding vocals added over the music and dynamite vocal harmonies singing "There's nobody else for me, There's nobody else for you".

The thirteenth song on the album, "Summer Days, Summer Nights", is another tragically sublime ballad sung by Jason. The music on this song is different from "It's You", but the vocals are of a similar quality and subject matter. There are string sections in this song and much more backing vocals than "It's You". There is also a dramatic part where the music stops and Jason is singing powerfully without accompaniment before each chorus. The ending of this song is a bit like a jam and has unique solos on flute, keyboards, guitar, bass and percussion. It is very funky.

The fourteenth song on the album, "Weight of the World", could also be defined as a ballad, but it has much more of a flamenco influence. There are consistent shakers, scratchers, wood blocks and castanets in the rhythm of this song and the vocals are top notch. You can really hear Jason's voice reach its high point during bits of this song. It's very sweet and one of the most original ones on the album.

The fifteenth and final song on the album, "Open The Door", begins with a bit of Spanish guitar, but quickly turns to a solemn, Johnny Cash type of ballad. The guitar and drums are very low in the mix and Jason's voice is loud and right up front. When he yells "Open the door and let love in!" you hear a crack of thunder and the drums crash loudly. The chorus of this song is so dramatic. It is quite literally one of the most classic pop songs I have ever heard. The middle of the song has a tremendous horn and string section and the song concludes with the chorus repeating time and time again with various vocal and musical variations. The very ending of the album is stupendous and has all the members of the band humming louder and louder into an "A Day In The Life" type buildup and release. You feel very satisfied when it is done.

The entire album can be listened to from beginning to end without ever feeling the desire to skip a song. I would highly recommend this album to anyone. The Explorers Club have created a gem that will be remembered in the same category as some of the other great pop records including the Zombies' Odessey and Oracle, The Beatles' Revolver, The Beach Boys' Friends and Electric Light Orchestra's Out of the Blue. Timeless; classic. - Go there and tell them you like them! - Go here and buy there album!

You can also buy the album on Itunes for $6 or amazon or in a record store.



I saw The Explorers Club live in Boston, MA on Valentine's Day and they were nice enough to sign my copy of their new record! (See that photo above?)

I also took video. I apologize for the darkness of the videos.

Weight of the World (sung by Jason)

Run, Run, Run (sorry for cutting off beginning. Sung by Wally)

I'm A Man (originally by Spencer Davis. Paul sings this one)

(this is me talking to Jason, Dave and Paul backstage)

The show itself was an interesting experience. After driving 2 hours I almost didn't get into the club where the show was because they were sold out, but fortunately some people left so I was able to get in. I arrived with a melodica that I intended to give them as a gift.

Three groups were at the show and the entire place was pretty much elbow to elbow. I missed most of the first band's set because of the sold out debacle, but after their set I was able to meet the bass player for the second band, Oranjuly, who informed me where The Explorers Club were.

Behind a few doors I saw Jason and Dave in a small back room made out of cement with a couple of couches and guitars in it. I gave them my melodica as a gift and we talked for a while before watching Oranjuly's set. I have known about Oranjuly for a couple years and it was nice to meet/see them in person. They sang completely in pitch and sound just like their recordings. They also gave me their new album, which I will review later.

At the show I also met the Explorers Club's manager and Executive Producer of their new album, Marc Nathan, and we talked about the tour and the band. It was also Valentine's Day at the show, so plenty of the people there were couples on dates holding hands and cuddling. It was all very cute and the environment was very friendly and nice.

The Explorers Club were the final band to go on stage and they played a combination of old and new songs including Priscilla, Forever, Do You Love Me?, Last Kiss, Acapulco Sunrise, Run, Run, Run, Weight of the World, Anticipatin', Go For You, Any Little Way and Grand Hotel (the song). They also performed two covers, the first being Elenore by The Turtles the second being I'm A Man by Spencer Davis. It was nice to be front row center and to be able to sing along with them.

I was impressed at how good they are at their instruments. The band does all sorts of improvisations and jams in their songs. An exciting part of the show was during the song Priscilla when they suddenly switched to play "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" right in the middle of the song, before launching into a 5 minute long jam.

Another exciting moment was during the second cover song that night, I'm A Man, originally by Spencer Davis. The band's second guitar player, Dave, plays around with some amazing, psychedelic sounding foot pedals and the band's bongo player, Brian, falls over right in the middle of a bongo solo. There was a lot of energy and movement and all of the songs sound just like they do on the recordings.

At one point during the song Forever the band stops playing their instruments completely and sings the chorus of the song A Cappella. In one of the photos above Jason can be seen touching his ear, trying to stop himself from hearing the audience so he doesn't sing off key. It was all very exciting.

You can tell these guys practice and rehearse all the time and it was honor to get to see them in action. They are all around very talented. OH! Their "Grand Hotel" outfits looked very cool too.

After their set was over all of the members of the band signed my vinyl copy of Grand Hotel (which is now hanging on my wall), Jason gave me a hug and I got a couple T-shirts too. I also got a chance to talk to Wally, Paul, Dave and Kyle and I think they are all very nice guys. All in all, it was a great way to spend Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

More New Explorers Club Music

Tomorrow night I am seeing the Explorers Club live in Cambridge, Massachusetts! I am going to try my hardest to interview the guys and post lots of pictures and reviews of the show (and maybe even live video!)

I can't wait! I will also post a review of all 3 of their new EPs, their amazing new album GRAND HOTEL and show you my super amazing merch!

- Eric W

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Explorers Club Music

Let's face it folks, the Beach Boys are never coming back, but at least we have the Explorers Club!

Last week I interviewed one of my musical heroes, Jason Brewer, from the band The Explorers Club. If you like The Beach Boys, The Beatles or America you need to go to right now and download three brand new songs by The Explorers Club! The best part? They're all free.

This is the link:

These three songs are being presented as a suite of music called "The Californian Suite". The three songs on the disc are "Walk On By" (a Burt Bacharach and Hal David standard covered by Dionne Warwick, Isaac Hayes, The Beach Boys and many other greats), Weight Of The World (a brand new original song) and Summer Days and Summer Nights (an original song that references the Beach Boys album of the same name).

This suite of music is fantastic, both as a marketing tool and as a release. All 3 songs are better than anything The Explorers Club have done before. These 3 songs represent a band more unified, educated, confident and artistic than ever before. Their version of Walk On By is different than any you may have ever heard before. The vocals are sung in a powerful and agonizing way that stands out in my mind much more than Dionne Warwick's version and their version also doesn't have the same backing vocals that the Beach Boys version had, so it is impossible to declare them "copycats", considering this version is completely unique. It even has a nasty organ solo at the end!

When I first heard the Beach Boys cover of Walk On By, I ADORED it. I must have listened to their version 20,000 times. I've learned the song and even thought about recording a cover myself. I am kind of glad I didn't get around to recording my version, because it would never have been as good as the Explorers Club version.

The 2 original songs on the suite, Weight of the World and Summer Days and Summer Nights are sort of spiritual sisters. They belong together. Weight of the World has this great flamenco guitar riff in it and amazing Spanish castanets acting as the rhythm. The song also has a great horn riff in the middle of it that makes the song sound like a Bacharach standard (Raindrops anyone?). This song is beautifully crafted and is so gorgeous that I'm afraid some people won't give it a chance, just for being so gorgeous.

Summer Days and Summer Nights is slightly slower than Weight of the World, but probably will have a greater appeal to the general public because it doesn't feature any castanets or flamenco guitar playing, but instead focuses on singing and vocal harmonies. The vocal track on this song is really gorgeous and so are the vocal harmonies dispersed throughout the entire song. Another awesome thing about this song is the ending, which picks up in speed and has a nice keyboard solo with some excellent acoustic guitar riffs and flute lines as well. It's really groovy and reminds me of The Free Design and Harpers Bizarre.

I really love this 3 song EP and I can't encourage you enough to download it immediately from amazon for FREE here -

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Interview: Jason Brewer of the Explorers Club

The Explorers Club is one of my favorite bands. I have wanted to interview them for years and I finally had the chance!

The Explorers Club are a pop band that sound a lot like the Beach Boys with perfectly in pitch vocal harmonies and unbelievably catchy hooks in all of their songs. They released their debut album "Freedom Wind" on the Dead Oceans label in 2008 and since then I have been so incredibly anxious for new music from the guys. Thankfully NEXT WEEK the Explorers Club will be returning with new music in the form of three exclusive "suites" of music that will be available through beginning next TUESDAY, October 25th when the "California Suite" will become available. Keep checking for more information!

I am so excited for these suites! I watched the promotional video below and it will feature a cover of the Burt Bacharach song "Walk On By" (also covered by the Beach Boys in 1968), the song Hitchin' A Ride as well as two "under construction" mixes of songs from their soon to-be-released new album "Grand Hotel" that will be available on Rock Ridge Music.

Jason Brewer is the principle song writer for the Explorers Club. He is the Brian Wilson of the band. I admire him a heck of a lot. He reminds me of Brian Wilson in a lot of ways; teaching his band members the vocal harmonies and meticulously rehearsing each part over and over again, giving suggestions to make the sound just the way he hears it in his head. I imagine him coming into band rehearsals and recording sessions with brand new songs in his hands anxious to show them off to the guys.

I have probably listened to the Explorers Club's 6 song EP and their debut full-length "Freedom Wind" a million times. I seriously spin the Explorers Club as often as the Beach Boys (and that is saying a lot). I don't think the Explorers Club are copy cats, I think they are pop fanatics, just like me and I think to label them as anything but fantastic is a poor judgment call.

I love the Explorers Club and I am absolutely giddy to share this interview with Jason Brewer!


1. When and where did the Explorers Club form?

Jason: We formed in 2005 in Charleston, SC in Dave Ellis' (one of the band's singers and multi-instrumentalists) backyard.

2. Are you [Jason] the only song writer in the band?

Jason: I am the only songwriter in the band, but I collaborate with Troy Stains and Mike Williamson - two songwriter friends of mine.

3. Besides the Beach Boys and the Beatles, who are some other big influences for the Explorers Club?

Jason: Herb Alpert, Neil Diamond, The Bee Gees, Burt Bacharach, CSNY, Andy Williams, The Grass Roots, The Turtles, The Zombies, Dan Penn, Joe South, ABBA, Frankie Valli, Bob Crewe, Roger Nichols, Paul Williams, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Booker T and the MGs... too many to name!

4. Your self titled, 6 song demo cd, where was it recorded and who mixed and mastered it?

Jason: It was recorded in too many places to name - a lot of it was done with my friend Troy Stains in Atlanta, GA. We mixed it ourselves. It was most likely mastered by Kevin Crothers in Charleston. That was WAY TOO LONG AGO.

5. What was the process like of getting signed to Dead Oceans and recording Freedom Wind?

Jason: They saw us play at SXSW in 2007 and signed us on the spot. We spent that summer making our record with Matt Goldman in Atlanta, GA. We really explored vocal harmonies and sound combinations to get that classic sound down just right.

6. What praise have you received that meant the very most to you so far (for example, if Brian Wilson told me he liked my music, I would cry)?

Jason: I think Brian [Wilson] calling me was real special. I also felt like our review in UNCUT magazine by Bud Scoppa was a career highlight so far. Singing with Darian and Nelson from Brian's band at the Troubadour in LA was very special.

7. What makes your new CD "Grand Hotel" that is about to be released different from "Freedom Wind"?

Jason: It is the REAL Explorers Club. It is our own sound. It is harmonies, classic pop sounds, lighthearted spirit and most remarkably - it's own VERY unique sound that is new and classic all at once. It is a musical vacation.

8. Are you going to buy the Smile Sessions by the Beach Boys when it released in November?

Jason: I plan to camp by my mailbox from now until it is delivered.

9. What are you planning to do after your next album is out? Tour? Record more? Take a break?

Jason: We will play shows and hopefully make a new record REALLY fast to follow it up. I already have two concepts half written for two more albums... get ready!

Listen to this tasty groove:
Do You Love Me? by expclub

and visit their website

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paul Starling

When someone becomes a song writer, it is almost criminal not to use your god given abilities to attract women by writing great love songs. Sunshine pop enthusiasts Paul "The Darling" Starling (they are a band, not a person) have released 3 albums in quick succession the past few years and are catching the attention of my heart. All of their albums are filled with incredible pop songs and their latest single "All Of My Heart" is just so great that I had to write about it as soon as I knew the right words to say.

I'm just going to quote the chorus of the song "We'll be happy like Brian Wilson said/and I would give her all of my heart/and i would make her see we'll never part/and i would give her all of my heart yes i would/and i would make her see shes the only one for me/and i would show her now that ill never leave/and i would give her all of my heart yes i would". Fantastic. I wish I had wrote it.

The song writer and singer for the band, Brian Bringelson, has a great voice and a smooth vibrato and spends a lot of time doing backing vocals on this track. The 60s style classy reverb and shaking tambourine are evocative of 70s soft rock - in a good way. All the stars have aligned and I am happy to discover another great song writer and pop band from Southern California. Big congratulations to Paul Starling for having their single released on Side B Music, which is owned by my pal Jerry Boyd. Jerry has great taste and I really respect him for doing things the old fashioned way (releasing music that is actually good). I adore this song and give huge credit to Brian Bringelson and the rest of Paul Starling for creating such a gem.

You can download the song on Itunes! =]

All Of My Heart - Paul Starling by SideBMusic

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Micro Song Construction

One of the goals of this blog is for me to interview musicians that I love. My heroes. One of them is Nate Reinauer, song writer and singer for the band Sweet Diss and the Comebacks. This is the second time I've written about Nate and his band.

He recently told me about a new song writing technique that we have deemed "Micro Song Construction". You can read a transcript of Nate talking about it below.

[Nathan Reinauer]
For the past 3 or so years I have been recording song ideas into my voice recorder on my phone, whenever I get one. So by now I have like thousands and thousands of little song ideas. Well, about two months ago I dumped ALL of them onto my computer and listened to every single one, deleting the stupid ones, and renamed them with their tempo at the beginning of the name. It took like two weeks to finish.

So now whenever I am recording, I just pick a tempo, and there are usually like 40 song ideas around that same tempo, and it makes it way easier to combine song ideas into one full song; like three years worth of different ideas all coming together. so for the last few songs I've been recording, I've been using my favorite song ideas and just using ones that have the same tempo and it makes it way easier to get lots of great melodies in one song, but it's a lot of work to go through and catalog them all like that..

What do you call this technique?

[Nathan Reinauer]
Um... I don't know! I never thought about naming it.

Micro song construction?

[Nathan Reinauer]
that works!

Give me some more details. What was the first song you wrote using the micro song construction technique?

[Nathan Reinauer]
Mia Moore! that opening ukulele riff was one song idea I've had for like a year and the verses were something I'd written in Seattle, while the chorus was from like 2 years ago. They were all sitting next to each other in the folder because they had the same tempo so I just stuck 'em together!

Obviously it takes a little more thought than that... I have to sort of audition lots of different ideas that have the same tempo, and change keys and stuff, but it's not too hard!

what about the other 3 song you just released? Were they all written in one batch, or were they multiple ideas put together?

[Nathan Reinauer]
All four of the songs were made up of different song ideas I've had for the last 3 or 4 years. I tend to use ones that are more recent more often, because for some reason I like those better, but there's always a big selection

Do you think you are going to keep writing songs this way for a while?

[Nathan Reinauer]
I think so! Before, it used to pain me to record my song ideas in my phone because I knew they'd just sit there forever and be forgotten, lost in the shuffle, but if you name them and order them by tempo it gives them all an equal shot to be used
and you rediscover them.

that's a sampling of what I'm talking about

Sweet Diss and the Comebacks just recently released 4 new fantastic songs on their facebook page.

Maybe Someday by Sweet Diss

Cherry Park by Sweet Diss

Never Stop Wooing You by Sweet Diss

Mia Moore by Sweet Diss

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Electric Orchestra - Out Of The Blue

I want to take a minute to write about how much I appreciate Electric Light Orchestra and Jeff Lynne. This post is specifically about their 1977 double album Out Of The Blue. By the time this record came out ELO were already superstars all over the world. They had had a string of hits that quickly had them playing on radio stations everywhere; hits like "Evil Woman", "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", "Fire On High" and so many others raised the anticipation level for Out Of The Blue practically through the roof.

By this point Jeff Lynne was so adored that the individual members of the Beatles were all calling him to ask him to produce their records, even going as far as to say that "If the Beatles had not broken up they would have gone on to sound just like ELO". That's some crazy stuff. Fortunately Jeff Lynne delivered the goods in a huge way.

According to wikipedia, "The album had 4,000,000 pre-ordered copies and quickly went multi-Platinum upon release. Out of the Blue spawned five hit singles in different countries, and was ELO's most commercially successful studio album."

Every song on this album is a masterpiece. The production is incredible, the lyrics are brilliant, the harmony vocals are impressive, the string parts are all great and the effects on songs like Standin' In The Rain, Turn To Stone, Night In The City and Sweet Talkin' Woman were all state of the art at the time of this album's release. Basically, this album was the hottest thing on the shelves when it was released and anyone who owns this record can still be proud to display it at the very front of their collection - for quick reaching.

My favorite moments on this record are: The bass vocals on the song It's Over (try singing them!), the "she's gone so long, what can I do?" section in Sweet Talkin' Woman, the "24/7 just left funk gate 11" section in Night In The City, The tap dancing break in Jungle, the build up of Standin' In The Rain (this song is way too intense! it needs some slamming power chords), the long, dramatic, dragged out outro of Mr. Blue Sky and Wild West Hero's A Cappella section! (I know some pretty serious guys who can weep at this song).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

FOUND: Rocketship show from 1996

Someone uploaded a classic live concert of one of my favorite bands ever.

Rocketship are legends in the Southern California indie pop scene and have inspired bands all over the world since the release of their first EP in 1994. Rocketship is also one of the most difficult bands to get a hold of if you want to interview them or book them for a show. Rocketship's lead singer and song writer, Dustin Reske, is slow when answering emails, (I asked him to do an interview in 2008 and haven't heard from him since he said yes all those years ago) but, I found him again recently and asked him to do another interview with me and this time he agreed, FOR REAL! So expect an interview with pop genius Dustin Reske in the coming weeks.

Here is video of Rocketship performing live in 1996 in Detroit, MI.

Naomi & Me

Rocketship with Rose Melburg performing The Love We Could Have Had

Hey Hey Girl

I Love You Like The Way That I Used To Do

Bonus: Rocketship performing Kisses Are Promises at a different show

A double bonus cover of I Love You Like The Way That I Used To Do by the asian band Caucus

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Glasses - Love Is Queer Reivew

The Glasses new album, Love Is Queer, is probably the most comforting album I have heard this year. It feels like a security blanket. There is not one tone or hint of malice or anger in this recording, which is really uplifting to the spirit. The Glasses are right where we left them in 2009 when they released "Story Problems" (and played an awesome show with my band in New Hampshire!) with boy and girl vocals by singers Will Wagler and Becky (who i believe is some sort of superintendant) accompanied by jangly guitars and fast drums. That is pretty much this band's trademark and they do it better than anyone else.

There is a strong hint of 80s new wave in this album and its no wonder considering the band's principal song writer, Will Wagler, grew up during that crucial decade. This album, whether intentionally or not, is reminiscant of hits by bands like the Go Gos, Culture Club and Hall and Oates. I am not saying that is a bad thing, in fact, it makes me like the album a lot more.

There is a sense of urgency in the songs on this album with limited instrumentation and no studio tricks. You won't hear any auto tune or 80 piece orchestras on this record, just drums, guitar, bass, the occasional keyboard and boy girl vocal trade offs. I will always love DIY albums and this is one of the best I have ever heard.

Stand out tracks on this album include One Late Night, which is very nice, starting out with a keyboard synth sound holding one note like a church organ while Will and Becky sing a lullaby-like melody until a synthesized drum beat comes in to supply some extra energy to the song. Another great track is Things Left Behind In Dreams. Again the 80s influence is strong with the synthesizer, electronic drums and memorable lead guitar riff. The hook in this song is outrageous and the bass line is pretty adventurous too. One final song I can't stop spinning is Your Hate Is Adorable. It reminds me of one of my favorite classic indie pop bands called Rocketship.

"Confused Hair" from The Glasses on Vimeo.

The Glasses have released another album full of great pop songs and it is even better than their last album (which I didn't believe would be possible). They have experimented more on this record and the result is a more progressive and interesting album with the same catchyness that makes them great. I hope their next album continues in the same direction, but gets even more in touch with their (80s) musical inspirations.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Micah Kesselring

One of my Beach Boys buddies has created a fantastic song called "Lovely Little Things". It just came out and it is already an instant pop standard.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

John Davis Interview (Part 2)

I finished part 2 of my interview with disco legend John "The Monster" Davis today and I am so excited to post this! I want to thank John Davis again for being an all around great guy and for getting back to me so quickly!

5. How did you team up with guys like Bobby Eli, "Sugarbear" Foreman and Charles Collins and how did you meet the Sweethearts of Sigma, Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Yvette Benton?

Being in Philadelphia, one could not exist without acknowledging these musical giants in my back yard. The first time I worked with the "rhythm section" (Bobby Eli, Sugarbear and Charles Collins) was on "Be Thankful For What You Got" and it was so successful that we became not only colleagues, but good friends as well! I always was, and will always be thankful for the years we spent together.

After that, I recorded "I Just Can't Say Goodbye" with the Philly Devotions, and "Midnight Love Affair" with Carol Douglas. I believe this is where Harry Chipetz, the general manager of Sigma Sound Studio started calling me "Monster". We never knew how much fun I would have with that name.

The first time I worked with the Sweethearts was on Night and Day with the Monster Orchestra. I'll never forget how beautiful they were and the sound was like cream in my coffee. It was truly an honor to work with them. I also have to credit Tom Moulton for giving me such new perspectives on mixing and just plain listening. It was always a pleasure working with Tom.

6. What was the experience of getting signed to Sam Records and Columbia Records like?

Sam Weiss (the owner of Sam Records) and I had a great relationship. I always felt like a son with Sam. When we went to Columbia, it seemed to change things between us. It felt more serious and frankly, some of the fun went out of it for me. The idea of having a little more control over my product meant more to me than being with a big label like Columbia. Unfortunately, this happened in 1978 when things were starting to slow down, and I was feeling a bit lost at the new label.I really thought I had a smash with Love Magic, but we never got enough radio support to get it through the clubs and onto radio. It was a big disappointment for me. But then, I would have to say we sold more records than ever with CBS so I guess it was a double edged sword.

7. You had a creative frenzy from 1976 - 1981 releasing 5 records; Night & Day, Up Jumped The Devil, Aint That Enough For You, The Monster Orchestra Strikes Again! and a split called Hangin' Out with a band called La Pregunta in 1981. What was the experience like of producing, writing and promoting these albums?

Those years, from 1974 - 1984 were the most fun years of my life. When I signed with Sam Weiss it opened a path for me to be in total control of my product. Writing, arranging, playing and producing with the best musicians and singers in the world - who could ask for more? I remember everyday, getting up and looking forward with joy to the day ahead. I knew I would be doing what I love with the people I loved and respected the most. After the Night and Day album, Sam and I felt we should do something original so we wouldn't become predictable. This is where I got my first opportunity to "go crazy". He basically said to go where you want and get him a hit. The first thought I had was "Up Jumped The Devil". It became a huge dance hit and opened the door for The Monster Orchestra to become more original and innovative. That was the really fun part!

8. What led you to stop making records after 1981's Hangin' Out and switch to making music for shows like Dynasty and Beverly Hills 90210?

I'm not sure whether I stopped making records, or people stopped calling, but in 1980, I decided to take a trip to LA and visit my pal Bob Reno from Midland records. He had just moved there and asked me if I would like to try my hand at writing for TV shows. I just had twin daughters and felt I better make this move now, because the future of the record biz seemed to be getting shaky. I got there and met with Mark Snow, a composer of countless TV shows. He got me started by working with him on Hart to Hart. After that, I continued to work for Aaron Spelling for 20 years. I did TV show like Beverly Hill, 90210, Melrose Place, Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, Walker, Texas Ranger, Hotel and many, many others.

9. Do you have any musical plans for the future like releasing a greatest hits package or a new album?

I have no current plans for future projects, but I'm available! (LOL) As far as a greatest hits album, you would have to talk to Mike Weiss at Nervous Records. He controls the master tapes. I'm sure if there was enough interest, he would release one.