The first followup project to Annuals' excellent 2008 album, Such Fun, was released today. It's a five-track EP entitled Sweet Sister, and it's damn sweet indeed. The first two thing I noticed are the new production flourishes (in the form of electronics) and a more subdued mood - at least for the first half. This is a much more modern-sounding effort than the sun-drenched, retro Beach Boys-esque arrangements of Such Fun, particularly the strong title track. "Holler and Howl" adds a bit of old-fashioned country tonk to the mix, although filtered through Annuals' distinctive pop prism, while "Flesh and Blood" could easily pass itself off as a modern country radio track (albeit much more enjoyable). Hmmm, I guess this is also a mini-review too. Anyway, here's the first track from S
Before today I had never even heard of Craig Powerplay, but would've guessed he was a legendary hockey player. In fact, it's the name for a line of automotive stereo equipment produced by (you guessed it) Craig. Back around 1977/78 Craig ran an ad campaign for its Powerplay products featuring a rather diverse group of musicians - Ray Charles, the Beach Boys, and Billy Preston to name a few. This one calls upon the star power of prog rock giants Emerson, Lake & Palmer. You probably don't recognize the group without capes or satin kimonos, but that's them alright.
What could be more American than watching some Beach Boys on the 4th of July? Nothing, that's what. So here's two clips from YouTube that will probably get taken down soon enough. First let's watch a performance of "Darlin'" from an unspecified date (I'd guess late '70s). The lack of Brian Wilson sucks of course, but thanks to brother Carl this is still quite a good performance. And now for one of the true classics - "Surfin' USA" from March 14, 1964. This is part of the "Lost Concert" now available on DVD. The syncing seems to be a bit off, but otherwise it's a great clip.
I don't normally plunk down any of my hard-earned (well, just earned) money on any form of entertainment unless I have a reasonable expectation that it will be worth it. But when I found out a few months ago that Brian Wilson was coming to New Jersey and performing his seminal work, SMiLE, I knew I had to take the chance. I'll cut to the chase and say that I was not disappointed. In fact, I had a great time. It's not that I didn't think I wouldn't, but Brian's musical output since the late '60s has been inconsistent at best, wretched at worst. But I think that sometimes gets glossed over by critics, and especially by his fans. And I think the reason is that so many fans and critics want so desperately to be able to view him as the musical savant he really was in the '60s. Brian's mental...