The Reverberation Appreciation Society Presents A Tribute To Pet Sounds

The label is not kidding when they call themselves the Reverberation Appreciation Society. Most tracks on the album are the Nigel Tufnel amp versions of reverb (“These go to 11.”). You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a mid-sixties pop song that didn’t work with a little more echo, so the results are mostly listenable. It’s when the bands go beyond that though that these re-imaginings of the Beach Boys work best.

The Black Angels take on “Good Vibrations” changes the vibration from Wilson’s triplets, darkening the whole vibe of the song, but not reducing it to a dirge. The song still keeps the original sense of movement even as it moves differently. In the spirit of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson’s music production hero, the Black Angels do build a wall of noise that is a tribute to Spector’s ideas rather than an imitation. Likewise, the contrast between twee vocals and a rumbling low-end make the She’s version of “You Still Believe in Me” interesting in its own right.

But not every track meets with that kind of success. While Holy Wave keeps Wilson’s awkwardness on “That’s Not Me,” the changes are only superficial resulting in a less compelling cover. The Night Beats are easy to enjoy on “Sloop John B,” but add nothing significant. Indian Jewelry sacrifice the amazing vocal harmonies of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” but moving the drums forward and saturating the whole track with reverb is just not a fair trade.

The common ground across this tribute is simply turning up the reverb. In the cases where that is the primary contribution to the particular cover, it is never enough. It would be like turning up the distortion pedal, playing power chords and calling it a metal tribute or playing the whole thing on acoustic guitar and calling it folk. But there are more than a few instances that go beyond turning the reverb to 11, resulting in some really compelling covers. Taken as a whole, the album is a good listen, but I could probably be a card-carrying member of the Reverb Appreciation Society. If reverb is not your thing, there are still a few very interesting takes on some Beach Boys classics.

About bobvinyl

bobvinyl, writer and co-editor of No Song is an Island, founded its predecessor, Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense (whose archives are found here), in 2005 and served as editor and principal contributor until it went on hiatus in 2010. He has also been published in AMP and Loud Fast Rules! (in print) as well as Glide and FensePost on the web. He has been an avid record collector since he was seven years old and enjoys sharing his love of music from the common to the esoteric.

2 thoughts on “The Reverberation Appreciation Society Presents A Tribute To Pet Sounds

  1. Chuck

    I dig the review but I don’t think I’ll care much for the album. It took some searching but I found the Black Angels cover of Good Vibrations (not to be confused with their song “Bad Vibrations”) and you’re right: they made it their own but kept a vital energy that Brian Wilson found in the original. It’s a good cover.

    I appreciate you noting your bias of being a card-carrying member of the R.A.S. Unfortunately, I am not. Given this isn’t readily available on Spotify, I don’t think I’ll be putting in the effort to get through the rest of this album.

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  2. bobvinyl Post author

    Black Angels was the best track on the album, so you found the right one. If you ever want to hear the whole thing though, I have it.

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