Brian Wilson was scheduled to perform Pet Sounds at the LEVITATION music festival to celebrate the albumʼs 50th anniversary. The festival was sadly cancelled due to dangerous weather in Texas. Before the cancellation, the curators of the festival, The Reverberation Appreciation Society commissioned Al Lover to curate and produce a tribute to Brian Wilsonʼs career keystone. So while the performance never took place, the compilation album dedicated to the event finally sees its release date.
With notable bands like The Black Angels, Boogarins, and Shannon & the Clams, all adding tracks, the compilation has the starpower to get plays in indie rock circles. Of the original 13 tracks, Indian Jewelry get the album’s iconic opener “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” For those familiar with the Texas band’s work, it should be no surprise that their cover is a masterclass in sonic experimentation with their wall-of-sound approach and Erika Thrasher’s vocals lilting over it all.
Of Pet Sounds‘ other most iconic tracks, Austin Psych Fest veterans Night Beats takes on “Sloop John B” and Chris Catalena gets the romantic high point of the album “God Only Knows.” Night Beats’ off-beat surf rock take on “Sloop John B” feels like one of the high points of the album while Catalena’s is a little too true to the original to feel like he made the track his own.
The tribute also contains two tracks not on the original Pet Sounds. The first is “Good Vibration” which The Black Angels absolutely own with their heavy reverb and pin-point vocal harmonies. The second is the UFO Club’s version of “Hang On To Your Ego.” For a compilation of heavily reverbed psych bands, the UFO Club manage the noisiest track on the album. With the cymbals clipping and a wall-of-guitar sound, the track becomes a little headache inducing.
The tribute album as a whole can be a little headache inducing. There isn’t a lot of variation in sound from artist to artist so there are wide swaths of the album where it can sound like one long song. That’s why bands like Night Beats and Shannon & the Clams’ take on “I Just Wasnʼt Made For These Times” are such welcome changes of pace.