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Sound Bites – Brian Wilson, The Korgis, ‘Licorice Pizza’ soundtrack

January 12, 2022
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The first edition of Sound Bites for the new year features an entry from the Great White North, a movie soundtrack loaded with period gems, a solo piano record from a living legend, and the first new music in 30 years from a beloved British band.

Brian Wilson – At My Piano (Decca Records)

I admit to a modicum of cynicism upon hearing news of this album but listening to it turned me around pretty fast. Hearing one of the finest composers (not to mention vocal arrangers) of our time revisit many of the richest gems from his back catalog on this solo instrumental piano record is an eerily beautiful and surprisingly moving experience for fans. We hear Wilson rearrange eternal classics including “God Only Knows,” “In My Room” and “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” in versions that almost make you feel like you’re eavesdropping just outside his music room. You wonder what he’s thinking when his fingers hit the keys on “Sketches of Smile,” “‘Til I Die,” and “Love and Mercy.” The triumphs and tumult of Wilson’s past are contained in this music that’s become part of the fabric of our culture stripped to its essence.

The Korgis – Kartoon World (Angel Air)

The band that gave the world the ethereal hit “Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime” in 1980 has returned with their first new music in 30 years. Originally an offshoot from the British prog-folk-pop band Stackridge, The Korgis’ specialty is melody-driven pop, and that includes this double concept album created during the Covid lockdown. The inspired songs stand on their own as they tell a story spanning 50 years of how only love can save the world from a colossal fall. Tracks including “Bringing Back the Spirit of Love,” “LaLa Land” and “Back in the Eighties” are each deserving of hit single status while a second disc offers alternate mixes and demos. “Kartoon World” is a beautifully executed set packed with band-composed notes, a poster, lyrics and an animated band history.

The Brandy Alexanders – (self-titled; Gypsy Soul Entertainment Inc.)

This Windsor, Ontario psych-rock band’s full-length debut packs a concisely delivered punch with its blend of dreamy acoustic pop (“Conventional Lie,” “IDK What I’m Trying to Do”) heavier rockers (“Ceiling Fan, Man,” “Shiram,”) and dance-pop (“Live By The Light”). Some of this material is so catchy, I probably should warn you that the enchanting ditty “Rear Window” stayed in my head for most of a week after hearing it once. The expansive production gives “The Brandy Alexanders” a vast soundscape that is especially delightful with headphones. Any band that would name itself after the drink that got John Lennon booted from an LA nightclub deserves my attention and this is a record deserving of yours.

Licorice Pizza – (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; Republic)

Music from Paul Thomas Anderson’s acclaimed film about growing up in early 1970s Los Angeles offers a near-perfect blend of that era’s soundtrack (David Bowie, The James Gang, Paul McCartney) combined with surprises from other eras (Nina Simone, Bing Crosby, Chico Hamilton Quintet). The Doors’ funkiest ever outing is here (“Peace Frog”) along with Donovan and Jeff Beck, Mason Williams and a later hit from Suzi Quatro who released her debut album when the story of this film takes place. Frequent PTA collaborator Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead created the instrumental title theme.

Last modified on Wednesday, 12 January 2022 08:38

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