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The Explorers Club

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It would be easy to dismiss the Explorers Club as a 21st century Beach Boys clone except the band is just so darn good at channeling that vintage California sound that they somehow end up sounding refreshing and vital because of it. Formed in Charleston, South Carolina and led by singer, songwriter, arranger, guitarist, and pianist Jason Brewer, the group's founding members also included multi-instrumentalists Dave Ellis and James Faust, bass player Wally Reddington, and drummer Neil Thomas, with Ellis, Faust, and Reddington supplying gorgeous harmonies to Brewer's lead vocals. Unabashed in their mission to carry Brian Wilson's musical vision forward, the Explorers Club evoke the classic mid- to late-'60s vocal sound that made the Beach Boys one of the most admired and influential bands of that decade. If that makes the band a bit of a one-trick pony, well, it's one hell of a trick. The group released a four-song EP, The Explorers Club, in 2006, three of which ended up on their debut full-length album, Freedom Wind, released in 2008 on Dead Oceans Records. The band returned in late 2011 with a series of Amazon-exclusive EPs titled The Californian Suite, The Carolinian Suite, and The New Yorker Suite, each including a couple of works in progress and a cover ("Walk on By," "Stormy," and "Hitchin' a Ride," respectively). Sticking with the '60s and their recognizable harmonies but also reaching into the sounds of '70s AM pop, the group's second album, Grand Hotel, was mixed by Mark Linnett, who worked on many Beach Boys reissues. It was released by Rock Ridge Music in February of 2012. Brewer relocated to Nashville in 2014 and by the time of their third LP, he was the Explorers Club's sole remaining original member. With the lineup of Brewer, singer/multi-instrumentalists Paul Runyon and Michael Williamson, singer/bassist Wyatt Funderburk, and drummer Kyle Polk -- and still sporting those vocal harmonies -- the band issued Together with Gold Star Records in 2016. ~ Steve Leggett & Marcy Donelson

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