LOCAL ACT: The Explorers Club 

Pure Pop and Pomp

The Explorers Club The Explorers Club - Freedom Wind - Do You Love Me?
w/ The Helio Sequence The Helio Sequence
Fri. May 30
10 p.m.
$10
Village Tavern
1055 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
(843) 884-6311
www.village-tavern.com
www.myspace.com/explorersclub

"Do You Love Me" from the album Freedom Wind
Audio File

"There's no one out there making the kind of records that I enjoy listening to — or that my parents, grandparents, and all my friends would like," says singer/guitarist Jason Brewer, the main songwriter and arranger of local pop-rock band The Explorers Club. "The thing is, The Association, The Beach Boys, and Phil Spector — they're not making records anymore. Sure, it's true that The Explorers Club catch some flak for sounding too much like The Beach Boys, but take this into consideration: This is our first record and we're not seasoned artists. I wanted to do a record that was of a certain sound."

That "certain sound" is a rich blend pulled from the early British Invasion and mid-'60s California pop eras — with an armful of vintage studio techniques and analog effects tossed in.

"A lot of people do something to capture a certain sound — a sound that no one does anymore," says Brewer. "It wasn't like doing a tribute. It's more of a continuation of something that kind of dies out."

The Explorers Club have stayed busy over the last two years. In recent months, they've carefully prepared themselves for the official release of a new collection titled Freedom Wind, a debut on the Dead Oceans record label (a subsidiary of Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian). It's a remarkably confident and original first-time effort, with great minor-key melodies, organ work, vocal harmonies, and urgent, almost neurotic lead vocals.

Dead Oceans will distribute the album on both compact disc and vinyl. The first single is "Do You Love Me?" (backed with "Carry Me" on 7-inch vinyl).

Brewer, guitarist Jim Faust, organist Stefan Rogenmoser, drummer Neil Thomas, bassist Wally Reddington, and multi-instrumentalist David Ellis are due at the Village Tavern this Friday for an opening set supporting The Helio Sequence.

Behind the mixing console at the Freedom Wind sessions was Brewer and his friend Matt Goldman, a producer, engineer, and songwriter headquartered at Glow in the Dark Studio in Atlanta.

"I played a lot of acoustic guitar, piano, and organ," Brewer says. "I let Dave and Jim do a lot of that tremolo guitar stuff and banjos and all. They're really good at it. I can illustrate the parts that I wanted, and they were able to put it across. Matt had a lot of really great ideas for the drums. We'd listen to some Beach Boys records, then we'd listen to some Elton John records, then some Beatles and Paul McCartney records ... then some Spector stuff to get some ideas."

Fancy modern studio magic by way of processors and effects is practically nil on Freedom Wind. Instead, they relied on time-tested, old-school techniques used in Abbey Road Studios and the like.

"Matt knew how to get the good sounds without having to process it or to use ProTools to replace tracks or whatever," says Brewer. "It was all real natural."

Brewer and the band worked with Goldman on material for months, and spent over three weeks tracking them. The bandleader and engineer met five years ago at a mutual gig while he was playing in his previous garage/mod group Nineteen Eighty-Four at the old James Island venue The Reef. "He loved E.L.O. and Pet Sounds and stuff, which was cool," remembers Brewer.

The Explorers Club initially kicked up in 2005, when Brewer, drummer Neil Thomas, and pianist/guitarist Troy Stains collaborated on a quick studio session in which they intentionally attempted to emulate that Phil Spector/Beach Boys wall-of-sound aesthetic on a track titled "Forever." The tune made its way into the recent sessions and ended up as the lead-off track. A recent issue of UK rock mag Uncut called the song, "an instant classic ... it's a toss-up whether Jason Brewer's classically crafted songs or the spot-on arrangements are more irresistible, as the group recasts these magical sounds for the 21st century."

"When we did 'Forever,' it just turned out so well and people really responded positively," Brewer remembers. "We put it online, and people loved it. A few record labels even contacted us. After I decided to form a group, I was like, 'Okay, let's form a Spector/Beach Boys-style band,' and I tried to incorporate all of those sounds."

The band spent much of 2006 touring the U.S. — mainly around the Southeast — before they landed the record deal in March 2007. At that point, the band took time off and Brewer juggled time between day jobs and writing and arranging new music. They made minor adjustments to the lineup, welcoming fill-in bassists and additional collaborators. During the transition period between last spring and the winter, they acquired a manager, a lawyer, and a full set of completely new material, and a new confidence.

Freedom Wind is now available for pre-order from Dead Oceans' website. Fans may order it on CD or LP formats. The LP version contains a coupon which can be redeemed online for a free download of the album.

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