I know what you’re thinking, “The Beach Boys? On Independent Weekly?! Where’s the new band I’ve never heard about? Where’s the struggling artist I want to support?”
Yes, this is hardly an independent release (and not even close to being recent), but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from Brian Wilson and the boys. Let’s get to it.
The year was 1966 and Brian Wilson, singer/songwriter of The Beach Boys, aspired to pen an album to rival that of The Beatles Rubber Soul (1965). In his mind, The Beach Boys’ current catalogue could use some improving and he was going to be the one to do it – just like that, Pet Sounds was released. Well, not ‘just like that’, but I’m cutting it short for brevity’s sake and to get to my point quicker. On to the next paragraph!
Pet Sounds is the album that conflicted The Beach Boys’ fandom at the time. It was deep, orchestral, and strange, and that divided the listeners. Heck, even their label tried to bury the uncommon release by releasing a “Best Of…” compilation only 2 months after the bands 11th studio album. Talk about a lack of confidence in your artist. Luckily the band had quite a large following and there were enough fans open and interested in their new songs; the album eventually gained wide-spread success. Could you imagine if they hadn’t had the following? If Pet Sounds hadn’t recieved any attention? What would have happened to this collection of music?
Which brings me to my point (nice segue).
I believe that Pet Sounds, if it hadn’t emerged from such an established act, would have flown under so many radars. The hits, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows”, among others, wouldn’t be so widely appreciated as they are today if The Beach Boys had simply been an independent group working from a home studio. And the deeper cuts would only be discussed by the few who were lucky enough to stumble upon them. It would truly be a shame if that happened. Which is why searching for new music is so important.
These days there are still only a handful of “Beach Boy” or “Beatle” groups, ones that have unwavering financial support from their labels for marketing, production, etc, and literally countless groups that have to make it by on their own. Not all of these unknown groups will write something as masterful or seminal as Pet Sounds, of course, but some will! It’s so easy to click around and find them that it’s a wonder we don’t search constantly.
That’s what myself and so many others are trying to do here; uncover hidden gems. Modern artifacts of sound that otherwise won’t get heard due to lack of publicity or fame. It’s a tragedy to know that such depth is out there, waiting, while some just turn on the radio and pump the Top 40 Hits on repeat.
Then again, maybe I’m just being snobby. Beauty is in the eye, and all that, and it’s all beautiful in it’s own way.
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written by Vaughn Oliver