The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, R.I.P. Neil Peart & Opinions on Beach Slang

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Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys elevated pop music to new artistic heights with the band’s 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds. With its ingenious orchestrations and earnest lyrics, the album remains an enormous influence to this day. Jim and Greg present a Classic Album Dissection of Pet Sounds. They also review the new album from punk band Beach Slang and bid farewell to Neil Peart of Rush.

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Neil Peart

Neil Peart / AP Photo

The music world has been mourning Rush drummer Neil Peart since his death on January 7, 2020. Widely revered as one of the best living drummers, Peart had been fighting brain cancer for more than three years. In a heartfelt tribute Jim makes the case that for all the complexity and precision Peart was known for, hard rock propulsion was always undergirding his playing.

Raised on a Canadian dairy farm, music was an unlikely career for Peart, but after just one audition on a modest drum set he secured his place as Rush’s drummer and went on to become their main lyricist as well. Peart took inspiration from Ayn Rand for 2112’s lyrics, earning a reputation as a libertarian that was hard to shake. Jim says Peart described himself as a left-leaning empathetic human being and too voracious a reader and too deep a thinker to be anyone’s disciple. Greg points out that Peart as never satisfied with his abilities, taking drum lessons decades into his career, calling that the badge of an artist.

The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City Beach Slang

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The latest album from Pennsylvania punk rock band Beach Slang is called The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City. Led by James Alex, Beach Slang has had a number of members since its creation in 2013. This new album showcases Alex’s devotion to the band The Replacements, with similar sonic elements, vocals and lyrics. Jim likes what the band is doing and enjoys the record. Greg finds it to be a bit too derivative and enjoys the more instrumental, original songs.

Pet Sounds

pet sounds

On May 16, 1966, The Beach Boys released their 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It was a relative commercial failure for what was the biggest American band of the ‘60s. However in the ensuing years, the album’s stature grew. Today, its influence pervades to the point that it is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever released in the rock era.

Due to a great deal of pressure, emotional turmoil, and mental health issues, Brian Wilson quit the Beach Boys as a touring entity at the end of 1964. While the rest of the band was on the road, Wilson spent ten months in the studio crafting one of the most intricate and expensive pop records ever made. Working with the famed session musicians of the Wrecking Crew, Wilson took a classical composer’s approach, layering instrument upon instrument to create lush, unique timbres. He collaborated with Madison Avenue writer Tony Asher on heartbreakingly earnest lyrics about his struggles to find his place in the world. The audience, the label, and his own bandmates didn’t quite know what to make of Pet Sounds when it came out. But artists from The Beatles to R.E.M. to Radiohead picked up on its brilliance and modeled their own music on Wilson’s ingenious arrangements. God only knows what rock would be today without Pet Sounds.

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