A Retro Kick: The Beach Boys

The last few album reviews here have been from bands either re-asserting old styles (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings), redesigning classic songs (The Bird and the Bee), or taking a basic, traditional format in her own direction (Laura Marling). I feel like I've been on a bit of a retro kick lately. Last night I strolled the internet seeking videos of Hall & Oates, Blondie (specifically "Heart Of Glass, live), Toto, Peter Gabriel, and even some Traffic. But it's not just me. Some large portion of hipster-esque, 'net culture is hanging onto the '70s and '80s (and not entirely in an ironic "meme" way). A few weeks ago I posted a video from the A.V. Club featuring Ted Leo covering Tears For Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." And this week, they featured Retribution Gospel Choir (2 of the 3 members of Low, plus) playing a cover of the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," which is a song that I can't hate entirely, even if I don't particularly like it. "Kokomo" is tied in with childhood memories. I seem to recall girls in my elementary school doing a dance recital to the song for a talent show (also featured: "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). "Kokomo" was inescapable when I was young. It came out when I was eight, and pop-radio was everywhere. And then it was on Full House, too. So, even if I don't think it's a good song artistically, it has a sort of peanut butter quality because it sticks with me. It's one of the few songs to which I'll never forget the words, or melody. The lyrics are dreamy, empty and it's definitely no property of Brian Wilson, but does stand defiant in the face of time, screaming, "Screw you!" in sweet tones to every cynical/realistic song that came before and after it. And so, here's the video because, well, it's actually a little fun.

Retribution Gospel Choir covers The Beach Boys

And another Beach Boys homage/tidbit that came my way via my friend John, who admittedly surfs the web for hidden nuggets way more efficiently than I do. Florida's newest indie rock darlings, Surfer Blood, have recorded a rough, but completely enjoyable version of "Don't Worry Baby" from 1964's Shut Down Volume Two. Really, early Beach Boys music is some of the most earnest and best harmonized in all of modern rock/pop/folk history. Consider the frank, tender, but solemn tone of the lyrics and the way that "Don't Worry Baby" captures both learning to assert oneself and remembering that individuality doesn't mean having to be alone. Brian Wilson, everybody! Surfer Blood does a great job hitting all the marks to keep the song in Wilson's voice, but also carefully spun to their sensibility. Great stuff. Really. Retro kicked. Enjoy. (Via Tim Chester's Soundcloud page)

Don't Worry Baby by tim_chester

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