By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
I'd argue that this constant Beach Boys influence-spotting trend isn't a simple case of projection, though. One listen to Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal"—certainly the breakout single on an otherwise stellar disc—and it becomes clear where the Foxes became inspired with the harmonic round used in that song's introduction. Or—seriously—listen to any single second from The Explorer Club's release Freedom Wind, and even the least well-versed listener will tell you where those falsetto sand-and-surf ditties came from. That doesn't make the album less enjoyable—although it certainly makes it less groundbreaking.
Is this surprising? Not in the slightest. The biggest knock on today's music is that it's all derivative. Audiences seem to be yearning for a new sound, for something—anything—that sounds a little different from what's being promoted on the radio and in the magazines.
Me? I listen to a lot of new music, and I haven't heard anything particularly new-sounding yet this year. The most refreshing new music discoveries I've made lately aren't the ones that create new sounds—maybe because there aren't any—but rather the ones that seem to do interesting, new things to those old sounds, like, say, Vampire Weekend or MGMT, who offer welcome updates on Paul Simon and David Bowie, respectively, and who, yes, I'm still raving about half a year after their initial releases.
Maybe this is just what music has come to. Maybe music these days isn't about finding that new sound, but rather about finding that new band that reminds us of an old sound that we've somehow come to forget—and didn't even realize that we missed.
Surely, the hipster set wouldn't have gone as bonkers earlier this year when Springsteen played the American Airlines Center if it hadn't been for the cadre of bands that gave him their stamp of cool approval in the media. I doubt the same formula will apply to the Beach Boys this weekend, as they play a three-night stint at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Without Brian Wilson, who has long-earned his due in music criticism, touring with Mike Love and the rest of the band, I just can't imagine many music snobs giving the rest of the Beach Boys the credit they're due.
But wouldn't it be nice if they did?