As sometimes happens as the Editor-in-Chief of a newspaper, I received a free copy of the album “Grand Hotel” by The Explorers Club. As is usually the case with most of the albums we receive, I knew nothing about this band before this week. Apparently, they’re a band from Charleston, S.C., that has been compared to The Beach Boys. Oh god.
My first impression of The Explorers Club was that I was shopping in Dillons. The first song, “Acapulco (Sunrise),” sounds like something that would play in an elevator. I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to mean, but I’m certainly intrigued.
The second track begins like the fanfare for the nightly news before segueing into a catchy, light-hearted little piano piece. There’s something about Explorers Club that reminds me of older music, like Sinatra or Bacharach. Trumpets blare, harmonies ring out and a tambourine jangles in a way that is almost obnoxiously happy.
Ultimately, I have a really hard time determining what, exactly, I think about this band. The instrumentation is pretty decent. There’s nothing really mind-blowing, like bitchin’ guitar solos or awesome drum fills, but it doesn’t sound bad, either. Everything combines well, regardless of whether the final product turns out to be good or not.
As the album progresses, a country vein also emerges. Perhaps it’s just because of my limited perspective, but I see some of Cake’s old near-country music from the early 1990s in this band.
Lead singer Jason Brewer has a smooth, soothing voice that makes me wonder if I should be falling asleep or swooning in a soda shoppe. The other band members, Dave Ellis, Justin James and the delightfully named Wally Reddington III, also contribute in silly Beach-Boys-y harmonies from time to time.
As the album draws to a close, most of the songs start to slow down, transforming from happy, peppy beach songs to slower ballads. To be honest, they’re much less interesting. The chill, cheerful music from the first half of the album kept me engaged because it seemed to be going somewhere, but the slower songs drag just a little bit, leaving me wanting to skip them fairly early.
In the end, The Explorers Club is certainly an interesting prospect. It’s nothing like the music that’s being produced today, which is good, since the music that’s being produced today is terrible. If you’re interested in rolling back 40 or 50 years, The Explorers Club is worth a listen. But you may feel compelled to go shopping afterwards.