Aug 222011

Last year Brian Wilson released the four-star album Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (read our review). Perhaps buoyed by that success, he has just announced his next album: a tribute to the songs of Disney movies. With anyone else, we might be inclined to roll our eyes, but if there is anyone who can deliver definitive performances of these oft-covered songs, it’s Wilson. Continue reading »

Aug 192011

We know, we know, another Buddy Holly cover. This year so far has seen 13 posts and counting on Buddy covers. We haven’t seen an artist get this much cover love since someone realized Lady Gaga sounded good on acoustic guitar. Still, this latest cover is worth another post. Brian Wilson covers “Listen to Me,” the title track of the latest tribute album, and it’s a perfect slice of beach pop. Continue reading »

Jul 062011

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Imagine hitting your creative and artistic peak at the tender young age of 23 and then having your personal and professional life completely fall apart, with a descent into drug abuse and mental illness. Brian Wilson‘s life followed such a trajectory after the release of his masterpiece, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Written with almost no contribution from the rest of the band, Wilson recorded the album’s instrumental tracks while the boys were on tour in Asia without him. Continue reading »

Jun 202011

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

What is it about artistic geniuses that make them so fragile, so seemingly unable to operate in the real world? Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath and Alexander McQueen all perished by their own hand. J.D. Salinger became a notorious recluse after the success of The Catcher in the Rye. Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind The Beach Boys, sunk almost as low as these, spending the first half of the ’70s mostly in bed doing drugs and then a number of years under the spell of a “therapist” who controlled his every move. Continue reading »

Jan 032011

Maybe Weezer’s recent classic-album tour stirred something up, or maybe the man currently churning out eye-rollers like “Where’s My Sex?” and “Can’t Stop Partying” (or, for that matter, “Unbreak My Heart”) still needs emotional release after all. Whatever the reason, frontman Rivers Cuomo put aside the lolz this past weekend for a seemingly impromptu YouTube cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” It’s a pretty by-the-books piano rendition, but provides evidence that Cuomo can still deliver heartfelt honesty when he wants to. Continue reading »

Aug 172010

Brian Wilson first heard “Rhapsody in Blue” at age two. In his telling, he thought it was “the most beautiful thing in the world” and asked his mom to play it over and over again.

Fast-forward 66 years. Fast-forward through “Surfin’ USA,” “I Get Around,” and Pet Sounds. Fast-forward through decades of seclusion and a twenty-first century comeback (fueled by 2004’s long-awaited Smile). A lot has changed over the decades. Wilson’s love of “Rhapsody in Blue” hasn’t.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin builds on that early appreciation with an unabashedly loving tribute to a giant of American song. A few years ago George Gershwin’s estate approached Wilson with an irresistible offer: complete some of Gershwin’s unfinished melodies. Wilson whittled 114 snippets down to just two, to which he added lyrics and arrangements. In “The Like in I Love You,” muted trumpet gently introduces in a rich orchestral production that sounds as carefree as any of the early Beach Boys hits. “Nothing But Love” hits a little harder, crunchy guitar (a rarely-seen instrument on this album) ushering in a herky-jerky pep rally. Continue reading »