YYY - A Tribute to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (2017)

Written by Larry Robertson, posted by blog admin

YYY’s A Tribute to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is such a formidable individual achievement that the mind slightly staggers to imagine what he might be capable of with an album of all original material. Tribute albums are typically musically and atmospherically faithful renditions of long established songs and skillful conformity is often more appreciated than genuine creativity. Genuine creativity is the order of the day on this Minneapolis based performer’s fourteen song paean to the genius of Brian Wilson. Any longtime music obsessive, presumably, knows that the greatest songs, in the end, are capable of withstanding endless revisions and restructurings while still maintaining the same spirit and communicative heart that guided their original performances. Austin Carson, aka YYY, has brought in a top flight crew of some of the best indie musicians and vocalists in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas and they provide a lot to the full flight of artistry we hear on this release.

It begins with the wistful charms of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” recast as a post modern melodic electronica showcase with vocals that nails the fundamentals and invoke every bit of the unfettered spirit we hear in the Beach Boys original. The deliberate and considered opening of “Don’t Talk” morphs, as it moves towards its inevitable conclusion, into a much more cumulative effort that doesn’t impress listeners with any central moment or motif, but rather through a process of adding on effects, like a painter adding new colors to a canvas. Elle PF isn’t the first female voice we hear on the release but one of many and her sensitivity with the lyrics is another highlight of the performance. The largely instrumental feel of “Let’s Go Away For a While” is tempered by the presence of wordless vocals streaming just below the surface of the mix and the electronica here gives the song unexpectedly vivid life. It’s one of the album’s most successful extrapolations from Wilson’s original material and succeeds in transforming the song into something truly new.

Al Church’s vocal on “Sloop John B” differs a great deal from this Minneapolis singer’s typical output, but Church reveals himself to be an eminently soulful singer with the instincts to make himself part of any composition he tackles. YYY continues, with this song, his pattern of maintaining the spirit of the original while bringing a considerable individuality to the performance. The Lydia Liza and Cool Moon powered performance of “Hang On to Your Ego” is another standout moment, particularly thanks to Liza’s vocal contribution, and “Here Today” featuring P.O.S. brings one of the album’s little known deep cuts into our view as a scintillating and ultra modern bit of electronica given clear shape by a mastery of fundamentals. Like the earlier “Hang On To Your Ego”, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” succeeds spectacularly thanks in large part to a marquee vocal performance from a female singer. Devata Daun lives every syllable of the song’s lyric for us. The theatrically minded electronic arrangement of the album’s shortest song and title cut, “Pet Sounds”, never forgets to incorporate melodic elements from the original while giving us an entirely different texture. Fort Wilson Riot helps the closer “Good Vibrations” rate among the finest moments on YYY’s tribute. The abiding virtues of The Beach Boys’ masterpiece come through in these performances and, frankly, the album’s very existence. It’s the ultimate validation of the Sixties generation, in a way – those voices then who claimed that posterity would not take a favorable view of the generation’s brightest talents seem increasingly distant and shrill in light of efforts like this.