We’re starting a new series of playlists that revolve around our Albums of the Month. We already have our Musical Lead-Ups which set the tone for the album featuring the artist’s earlier work, inspirations and contemporaries. Now we are featuring the artist and album’s legacy in a series of playlists created by Classic Album Sundays Chicago’s Sam Willett.
In this playlist he shows how modern acts still pay tribute (whether consciously or unconsciously) to Pet Sounds, an album celebrating its 50th anniversary. These classic albums do live on! Scroll down for the embedded Spotify playlist and Sam’s notes on each track. If Tidal is your platform of choice, you can access the playlist here.
Check out The Beach Boys’ earlier work, inspirations and contemporaries on our Pet Sounds Musical Lead-Up Playlist here.
“I recently ran across a headline related the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds 50th anniversary stating the album was Brian Wilson’s “eternal teenage symphony”. While the feelings portrayed in the album’s lyrical content album may seem like those of a teenager, I don’t think they should be pinned under a singular identity. Because Brian Wilson put his most intimate emotions on the line for Pet Sounds, it inspired musicians to come to take similar leaps of faith in order to connect with their audience in the deepest way possible. Many artists on this playlist do just that, and, man, does it pay off. Of course, the Beach Boys also largely influenced beach rock, indie, and folk rock in some way, so that is also evidenced here.” – Sam Willet
1. Panda Bear- “You Can Count On Me”- Panda Bear and Animal Collective embrace the psychedelic pop tendencies manufactured by the Beach Boys and are regularly compared to them by music media. Here, Panda Bear creates a simple and beautiful ballad built by silky vocal harmonies, bass drum hits and claps for percussion, and lyrics promising to be a reliable protector from a far from innocent world. An Animal Collective song that follows a similar formula, “Taste”, can be found later in the playlist, where they ask themselves, “Am I really all the things that are outside of me?”
2. Best Coast- “Boyfriend”- Best Coat is a prime example of how the Beach Boys inspired modern day beach rock, and with “Boyfriend”, Bethany Cosentino laments about losing the race to winning over her current crush. Cosentino, along with the Flaming Lips, Local Natives, Norah Jones, and many other artists, put on an event called BrianFest last year to celebrate their appreciation of Brian Wilson- I’m sure that was quite the night.
3. Grizzly Bear- “Two Weeks” (Spotfiy playlist)- Grizzly Bear is lucky enough to have four talented vocalists contributing harmonies in their epic psych-folk songs, and “Two Weeks” is perhaps their most celebrated song. The swoon-worthy harmonies surround the verses and choruses scream a Beach Boys influence. It also makes the music listener calmly absorb the advice detailed in their lyrics, which tells them to slow down and take in the little things in life when something exciting enters their life.
3. The Clientele- “Rain” (Tidal playlist)- The chorus of this song, “I want you so badly in my heart”, makes the Beach Boys’ influence on the Clientele more than evident. The band blends this influence and makes it their own by adding brit-rock instrumentation into the mix.
4. The Flaming Lips- “Do You Realize??”- “Do You Realize” is a perfect example of how Brian Wilson’s mastery of writing a sad-but-uplifting song has carried on. Here, Wayne Coyne sings about the inevitable end of life and how many conclusions can go awry, but he also stresses beauty is always beauty in there air, and if you recognize that, you will admire how special life really is.
5. The Explorers Club- “Don’t Forget the Sun”- The Explorers Club set to resurrect the Beach Boys classic sound for their album Freedom Wind, and they do so well with sweet vocal harmonies and lyrics appropriate for while watching the sun set on the beach. This song is definitely the stand-out on the album.
6. Mountain Man- “How’m I Doin’”- If you have heard of Slyvan Esso, you may have heard of vocalist Amelia Meath’s previous band, Mountain Man. The trio is best known for their gorgeous three part harmonies, and this track contains only that. It’s nice to just listen to simple songs sometimes.
7. Sufjan Stevens- “Death With Dignity”- While Brian Wilson reaches for reconciliation in romantic love in Pet Sounds, Sufjan Stevens wrote Carrie & Lowell to revisit and understand the hardships he experienced with his parents throughout his life. Considering that, lyrics like “spirit of my silence, I can hear you, but I’m afraid to be near you” sound even more heartbreaking. This exposure has positively fueled Sufjan’s energy for touring recently, so much so he smashed a banjo to bits during his Coachella set a few weeks ago. Be sure to catch Sufjan on tour this year to witness the magic behind his current form, if you can.
8. Fleet Foxes- “Quiet Houses”- When The Beach Boys put out their most recent album, That’s Why God Made the Radio, in 2012, Brian Wilson named checked Fleet Foxes for their excellent vocal harmonies. To add, Al Jardine told Rolling Stone the band became an obsession by “taking the world by storm without singles.” If that’s not a dream come true for Fleet Foxes, I don’t know what could be. “Quiet Houses” mimics Wilson’s cries to close your eyes and rest your head on his shoulder in “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder”. Robin Peckhold takes a similar stance as he sings “lay me down” and realizes he has lost his lover, and they’re not coming back.
9. The Morning Benders- “Excuses”- “Excuses” is loaded with beautifully organic tones, from twirling piano lines, lush string arrangements, and a variety of drum sounds. Pet Sounds is commonly discussed to contain beautiful walls of sound, and this track deserves similar treatment.
10. Olivia Tremor Control- “Hideaway”- The Elephant 6 Collective, composed of Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, the Apples in Stereo, and of Montreal, were all equally influenced by the Beach Boys so much that they honored them in naming their studio Pet Sounds Studios. “Hideaway” mimics the sunshine pop elements of many Beach Boys songs.
11. Monster Rally- “Coast to Coast” – Monster Rally is an electronic artist who pieces his music together from vinyl samples to create original nostalgia, similar to The Avalanches. These songs capture summery sweetness through a more modern musical medium and fit in with many of these rock bands perfectly.
12. Animal Collective – See Panda Bear write-up above.
13. Yo La Tengo- “Little Honda”- Yo La Tengo gave this Beach Boys some distorted treatment for their iconic album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. It’s more straightforward than the original arrangement until Ira Kaplan rips out a screeching guitar solo that sends the song into overdrive.
14. Weezer- “Holiday”- “Holiday” is largely similar to Pet Sounds’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, where Rivers Cuomo wishes to be transported to an fantasy world where life is unpredictable but easy. It’s a wish so simple that truth would only lead to misunderstanding, and direction is meaningless. Just like Wilson’s wishes for perfect days in the sunshine everyday, they will never happen, but they can wish through song as much as they want.
15. Passion Pit- “Constant Conversations”- Passion Pit is known for writing upbeat songs that are impossible not to dance to. While “Constant Conversations” influences listeners to sway more than jump around, the lyrics will make you stand still. Michael Angelakos takes a page of Brian Wilson’s book and pairs this sweet melody with confessions of alcoholism and how his struggles have manipulated his marriage. His partner also realizes the songwriter has no one else in his life to help him through them, just like Brian Wilson’s curse of loneliness, leaving both individuals in a weird middle-ground- they need repair but have no where to go.