Rain Drop
by Emma
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Beach Boys - "Surfer Girl (Take 6)"
Migos - "Bad and Boujee (feat. Lil Uzi Vert)

Sometimes the future works perfect. Like, last week, an app I was using saw through my playlists and directly into my mood and, via some chain of algorithms I could never possibly even pretend to begin to understand, delivered unto me this fucking wonderful Beach Boys demo I'd never heard before. The Beach Boys in February! What a gift! They all sound like they're standing in an empty California swimming pool, harmonizing at the moon under an impossible blanket of blinking stars. Plus that melancholy licking all faint and sweet just along the edges? Come on.

Beach Boys outtakes in particular are fascinating because they capture these songs in moments before their sadness and their pure glittering wonder have been totally balanced, so things always list a little to one side or the other. Some songs sound a little corny, kinda naked; others feel too echoey, like you're walking around your bachelor apartment trailed by a pack of velvet-tuxedoed ghosts who won't stop crooning lonely anthems in the background while you heat up a frozen pizza or whatever. Good harmony, the kind that rings you like a tuning fork, might make you feel bigger than anything else in the world, but it's a tenuous thing - the incomprehensible, un-fake-able product of luck and intent and technical skill and emotional charge. That's why charmless pop songs (or any songs, really) can leave you feeling like you ate a bag of steak-dinner-flavoured chips when you thought you were gonna have an actual meal; that's your very soul rejecting bad harmony, the disingenuous kind. The flatness of it.

Anyway. The point of all this is that sometimes algorithms don't work at all, because I listened to nothing but Beach Boys demos for like a week solid, and ever since, the robot brain has been trying to sell me on all these monotonously sun-dappled beige-y floating-guitar bands, the kind whose "jangly hooks" play in the background of the TV version of your life while you're out for a pleasant bike ride. I do not have anything against this type of song per se - I like a nice bike ride as much as anyone, and every single night of my life I dream about summer - but its recommendation as a Beach Boys chaser feels a little narrow-minded. As if the thing that gives me goosebumps about that music is primarily its sunniness. What I want is is for real harmony to run through me like a charge; I want to get the wind knocked out of me by convergence, by a song that feels joyful and haunting and sharp and familiar and brand new all depending on which way the light hits it, because it contains all those things at once, and more. The kind of balance that feels fragile and temporary and present; entirely, perfectly itself.

[buy Culture / Becoming The Beach Boys]

Posted by Emma at February 19, 2017 10:26 PM
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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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