Beach Boys charm and musical allure from Baltimore’s answer to the ‘Pet Sounds’ era Brian Wilson, John Lane.
‘She Sells Seashells’
1. Remember The Zoo (1:59)
2. Buckminster Fuller Loves You (1:54)
3. The Ghosts Of Montreal (2:52)
4. Out Of The Millions (4:00)
5. The First Umbrella (3:15)
6. I Think I Hear (The Ice Cream Truck) (3:15)
7. Good Good News (2:44)
8. Katy Why (3:58)
9. Fitness Suite (4:13)
10. The Last Umbrella (3:10)
11. If There Ever Was (3:21)
12. Pensacola (2:40)
13. The Northern Lights (0:34)
John Lane and the following group of friends:
Tilt Araiza — Vocalist and additional lyrics on 3
Graig Clemens — Guitar and steel pedal on 12
Mary Edwards — Harmonics on 4 and lyrics/harmonies/vocals on 11
Rob Gibson — Vocalists/lyrics/additional instrumentation/fit sounds on 9
Jon Hunt — Vocals and lyrics on 7
Christian Lipski — Artwork and Guitar/lyrics/vocals on 8
Robin Whitney — Vocals on 13
Ryan and Val Williams — Vocals on 1 and 5
Baltimore’s Expo don’t just recreate the Brian Wilson sound, but act in the manner of musical anthropologists, capturing and chronicling the very essence of sun dappled production so synonymous with ‘Pet Sounds’, channeling it with the greatest respect and tact.
Essentially the work of one man – John Lane – this suite of affectionate well crafted sunshine pop songs were recorded on the move between a whole host of locations throughout both the US and UK, with a willing band of contributors lending their voices, writing skills and guest instrumentation to the idyllic mix.
This album has a leitmotif running through all the 13 tracks, one that takes in all the familiar echoed reverb charm, felicities sounds, picturesque descriptive scenes of the surf and those same teenage heartache analogies found on countless records drawn from another time.
There are also some approving stylistic melodic nods to The High Llamas and the Olivia Tremor Control, with brief flirtatious moments of Octopus and Panda Bear to boot, whilst the overall guiding hand of Wilson’s own backing band The Wondermints – wholly responsible for his recent resurrections from self imposed comatose exile – lightly conducting the proceedings.
Most of the tunes adhere to an expressive pattern of harmonics, chimes, timpani’s, xylophones, twanging phasered guitars, organs and richly textured evocative cooing atmospherics.
From the instrumental segue-ways of ‘Out Of The Millions’ and ‘The Last Umbrella’, to the choral drifting romantics of ‘Ghosts Of Montreal’, all the songs display the groundwork to produce some startling Beach Boy comparisons.
Likewise the lyrics hark back to the mini opuses of lost innocence and teenage drama penned by Tony Asher on ‘Pet Sounds’, now re-phrased and re-valuated for a more contemporary feel.
On the song ‘Fitness Suite’, there is even a play at humour amidst the full regalia of full-on pomp, with our central protagonist waxing lyrical about exercising away those extra pounds of weight, so he can finally catch up with the girl –imagine a lumbering Wilson transposing a ditty as he puffs and pants on his treadmill, which is of course located in a sandbox.
Later on there’s a guarded tribute to ‘Caroline, No’ with the xylophone heavy baroque lamented tale of ‘Katy Why’, which radiates with resplendently delicate and translucent tones, lost on a dreamy bed of iridescent charm and whimsy.
More sweetened melodies of enchantment carry us away even further, with the quizzically entitled ‘The First Umbrella’, which effortlessly enthuses rich diaphanous swathes of feel good wooing, in an ode to the descriptive ideals of golden beaches and starry nights, your girl or guy sharing some collective awareness that can never be satisfied with just mere words.
The opening song, ‘Remember The Zoo’, hurtles straight into a melee of hazy psychedelic elation and unadulterated lyrical fun detailing a date at the said zoo, announcing Lane’s intentions quite clearly.
Every now and then we come across blasts of tranquil atmospheric sound collages –think the self titled instrumental and last faded outré moments from ‘Pet Sounds’- as background chatter, old time railway engines and bicycle bells create a moodier backdrop to the often overall blithe theme of this tongue twister titled album.
Lane and his friends evoke warm glows of theremin, flute and harpsichord signature appropriation from a particular golden era, albeit with a sly knowing wink, encompassing songs of soothing, joyous and blissfully entertaining quality.
‘She Sells Seashells’ can confidently be added to your summer soundtrack collection.
Hell, it even comes with a seal of approval from the legendary Hal Blaine himself, who was of course part of the elite LA Wrecking Crew of session players that played on numerous BB records, his endorsement should single-handily grab your attention.
As yet unsigned, Lane is releasing this album strictly as a download, though if he had a choice it would be released on baby blue vinyl – well we can only dream.