No Pier Pressure – Brian Wilson
Originally intended to be the Beach Boys’ follow-up to their 2012 under-appreciated That’s Why God Made the Radio (until Mike Love “fired” Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks at the end of their 50th Anniversary Tour), No Pier Pressure ended up as the first solo album of all-new material from the 72 year-old legendary Brian Wilson since 2008’s That Lucky Old Sun. Those harmonies…..that’s what I loved about the Beach Boys, and that’s the best part of this new project, which can feel a bit disjointed and inconsistent. That makes sense, as four of the songs seem to have been for the Beach Boys album, a few are true Wilson solo songs, and the others feature guest artists, with mixed results.
Wilson joins the list of rock and roll veterans who have lately tried new approaches. Van Morrison and John Fogerty recently released duet projects. Paul McCartney has recently worked with Kanye West and Rihanna, and Bob Dylan released an album of songs that Frank Sinatra had recorded. None of these artists have anything left to prove and thus can experiment.
For Wilson’s eleventh solo studio album, he returned to Capitol Records, his longtime label with the Beach Boys. He also reunites with Joe Thomas, his frequent songwriting partner and co-producer.
The four songs which feature combinations of Beach Boys Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin – “Whatever Happened”, “The Right Time”, “Tell Me Why”, and “Sail Away”, feature stunning harmonies and are worth the price of the album (or you can just download those songs individually). Those songs will take you back to the best of the Beach Boys music. Jardine and Chaplin will be joining Wilson on tour this summer.
Wilson handles the vocals for the opening “This Beautiful Day”, “One Kind of Love”, and the closing “The Last Song” (a version of which was reportedly recorded with Lana Del Rey) himself.
“Runaway Dancer”, featuring Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities, has a dated 80’s disco feel to it and is my least favorite song on the record. Next least favorite is “On the Island” featuring She & Him. “Half Moon Bay” features beautiful harmonies and the trumpet of Mark Isham. “Our Special Love”, which was originally going to feature Frank Ocean, instead includes the vocals of Peter Hollens. “Guess You Had to Be There” is a catchy song featuring vocals from Kacey Musgraves. This would be my favorite of the songs featuring the non-Beach Boy guest artists. “Saturday Night” featuring Nate Ruess of fun., is likeable, but doesn’t feature enough of Wilson.
Throughout, Wilson’s voice is strong and the production is excellent. The genius of Wilson comes through on No Pier Pressure, but the album is uneven because of the varied styles and guests that are included.
- TobyMac’s new album. TobyMac’s sixth studio album ***THIS IS NOT A TEST*** is scheduled to be released August 7.
- Jon Foreman Solo EP. Switchfoot frontman is going to be releasing some new solo EPs this year, with each song representing one particular hour of the day. For his first EP, Daylight, Foreman recently released the song titles. The action begins at 11 a.m. with “Terminal,” followed by “The Mountain”, “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are”, “Caroline”, “The Patron Saint of Rock & Roll” and “All of God’s Children” finishing at 4 p.m. Stay tuned to find out exactly when the new record is coming
- The Table. Check out Chris Tomlin with the University of South Florida Gospel Choir doing this song from his latest album Love Ran Red.
- U2’s Flight to Now (Turbulence Included). Jon Pareles of the New York Times writes about U2 getting ready for their Innocence and Experience Tour.
This week’s song is Steve Camp’s “He Covers Me”, a song that meant a lot to me for a long time. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve several years ago when our church hosted him for a weekend of teaching and worship.
Oh Lord I feel so barren and ashamed of who I am
How I often fell
I hid it well
A lie I cannot defend
So I lean upon Your mercy
As I confess my sin to You
It is no easy way
No saving face
When you finally see the truth
Let my life be filled with only You
I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
And though the trials never end
I learn to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me
Sometimes the pressure builds around me
And I feel about to break
I suffer patiently from wrongs done to me
But vengeance isn’t mine to take
Let me glory in my weakness
Until Your strength’s revealed in me
It is Your grace alone that helps me carry on
To be the man I long to be
Let Your life be perfected in me
(You’re the Light) Until it’s You they see
And though heartache surrounds me
I know Your love is around me
Nothing can separate me from You
Oh Lord I know it’s true