Portrait of Arthur Schwieder from the Archives of American Art Journal, c. 1950
So I'm putting "We Love the Beatles" to bed with this first entry of "We Love the Beach Boys" - I went through a big Beatles phase recently after buying the new remasters, but I'm pretty burned out on the Fab Four now and ready for something else. I know that the influence of the Beach Boys on modern pop is a somewhat contentious issue - people claim that the Beach Boys are cited far too often when any kind of harmony vocals are involved, and some people find the recent spate of indie bands touting a Beach Boys influence, particularly the new "chillwave" bands, to be a particularly obnoxious strain of the white-kids-with-guitars virus. Nevertheless, I find myself drawn to bands who love the Beach Boys, and I like hearing that influence implemented in different ways. I hope that I can find the sound of Brian Wilson and co. in some unexpected places as I do some thinking about this.
For now, though, I'm starting with an easy (if unlikely) group of Beach Boys devotees, London's premiere '80s surf rock revivalists, the Barracudas. These guys were obviously fans of early Beach Boys - their debut album Drop Out With the Barracudas sounds almost like a recreation of Shut Down Vol. 2, an odd Beach Boys album to emulate. But it's all there - the copious car-racing references, the "campus" love songs, the references to California and surfing. Sure - they filter the sound through a grubby, Ramonesy filter with rougher edges, but the backing vocals and guitar sound are just right for me. And any song with a handclaps outro is fine in my book!
"On the Strip" by the Barracudas