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Counterbalance No. 1: The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds'

Ten years ago, we began presenting the beloved Counterbalance series that ran through 2016. Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger debate the merits of some of the most critically-acclaimed albums of all time. We are re-running the entire series beginning today with a new entry each Monday. Enjoy.

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The Personal Accounts of The Beach Boys Make This Documentary Worthwhile

Classic Albums: Pet Sounds expands the mythos of one musician to an entire group, and in doing so, allows us to see the project in a different, equally compelling light.

Music

Why Does the Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' Still Have Its Hold on Us?

Fifty years on, Brian Wilson’s emotive musings on love, loss, and loneliness have proven to be truly timeless.

Danilo Castro
Reviews

'Love & Mercy' and the Dualities of Brian Wilson

Operating through a series of simple juxtapositions, Love & Mercy is kept riveting due to the stellar and nuanced performances by Paul Dano and John Cusack.

Brice Ezell
Music

Mini Mansions: The Great Pretenders

Melodic, dark, contemporary music with delightful twists and turns, Mini Mansions's The Great Pretenders offers fans a bit of psychedelic swirl amalgamated with sensible, fairly sophisticated, fun pop rock.

Events

NYC Randomness: 'Love & Mercy' Panel + 'Skin Wars' Fashion Event

Some photos of Brian Wilson and John Cusack discussing Love & Mercy and of a Skin Wars body-painting fashion show.

Music

The 12 Best Brian Wilson Songs

In addition to his recent album, No Pier Pressure, Brian Wilson is about to have a biopic about him released in theaters. The 12 songs below also form a vivid portrait of his life as a pop genius.

Scott Interrante
Music

Pop Unmuted Podcast: Brian Wilson's 'No Pier Pressure' and Veteran Pop Artists

The latest installment of Pop Unmuted talks about pop artists who are far into their careers, starting with the latest Brian Wilson album. No Pier Pressure.

Music

Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure

No Pier Pressure is a lifeless, limp collection of songs that counts as a Brian Wilson album in name only.

Reviews

'The Wrecking Crew' Celebrates One of the Music Industry's Best Kept Secrets

By showing the range and the influence these session musicians had on the hits from the '50s to the '70s, The Wrecking Crew proves their place in rock 'n' roll history.

Music

1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music

The year 1965 saw many musical developments, a significant one of which is Brian Wilson's development from poet laureate of high school to baroque visionary.

Andrew Grant Jackson
Music

Songs of the Summers: The '60s

As it turns out, America's infatuation with sometimes kooky summer tunes is an old one.

Music

Counterbalance: The Beach Boys' 'SMiLE'

I know that you’ll feel better when you send us in your letter and tell us the name of your favorite vegetable. In the meantime, this week’s Counterbalance looks at a 1967 classic, lost and found.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "In the Back of My Mind"

For the last proper song on The Beach Boys Today, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys craft their most inventive and sublime track to date, "In the Back of My Mind".

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "She Knows Me Too Well"

Likely the first song written for The Beach Boys Today!, "She Knows Me Too Well" is surprisingly sophisticated and unique.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Kiss Me, Baby"

Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys continue side two of The Beach Boys Today! with a delicate and elegant ballad about coming to terms with lost love.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "I'm So Young"

"I'm So Young" may not be a Brian Wilson original, but this elegant cover version is one of the high points of The Beach Boys Today!

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Please Let Me Wonder"

Opening a side full of lush ballads, "Please Let Me Wonder" presents a multi-layered lyric about the difficulties of intimacy and pursuing creative fulfillment.

Music

The Beach Boys - "Time to Get Alone"

While there are obvious downsides to the kind of discography that the Beach Boys have assembled -- it's dense, lengthy, and larded with inconsistent results -- one of the payoffs deserves special mention: those moments of discovery.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Dance, Dance, Dance"

To close out Side A, the Beach Boys give us a seemingly straightforward dance song about hedonistic escapism, and, of course, dancing!

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Help Me, Ronda"

Before there was "Rhonda", there was "Ronda". Not quite the beloved single released later in 1965, the original version of "Help Me, Ronda" that appears on The Beach Boys Today! still has its strengths.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)"

As a highly complex song that deals with anxieties about becoming an adult, "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)" was an unlikely hit single. But more than that, it stands as one of the most impressive songs in the Beach Boys' catalog.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Don't Hurt My Little Sister"

Originally offered to Phil Spector to record with the Ronettes, the third track on The Beach Boys Today! presents a conflicted and guilt-ridden autobiographical narrative.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Good to My Baby"

With the second track of The Beach Boys Today!, we get a solidly written song reminiscent of the group's earlier singles: sophisticated but digestible and fun.

Music

When I Grow Up: The Beach Boys - "Do You Wanna Dance?"

Diving into the first track on The Beach Boys Today!, we look at "Do You Wanna Dance", a re-interpretation of a 1958 Bobby Freeman song, and investigate the question of what exactly a Beach Boys song is.

Music

When I Grow Up: 'The Beach Boys Today!'

The often overlooked The Beach Boys Today! (1965) finds Brian Wilson and the rest of the band embracing the sophisticated musical experimentation we would later find on Pet Sounds while retaining the catchy accessibility of their early surf and car songs.

Music

The Beach Boys: Made in California

A wonderful tribute to the most influential and ambitious American pop group of all time.

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The End of the Beach Boys' Summer

Then and now, the ethical questions that arise here involve the choice to turn this troubled phase of Brian Wilson's life and career into entertainment.

Music

The Beach Boys: 50 Big Ones

There's a lot of incredible songs on 50 Big Ones, songs that every music fan owes it to themself to hear, just not via this album.

Music

The Once and Future King: 'SMiLE' and Brian Wilson’s Very American Dream

Almost half a century later, The SMiLE Sessions fully vindicate Brian Wilson's obsessive efforts: the material is complex but accessible, intense but assured, the fully realized vision of a unique talent.

Music

CONTEST: The Beach Boys' 'That's Why God Made the Radio' Helps Celebrate Summer

Win the ultimate beach prize pack from the Beach Boys, including their new album That's Why God Made the Radio and a Lomography La Sardina camera, to start off your summer!

Music

Cock Roaches and Keith Richards: How Do Some Bands Seem to Last Forever?

The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Metallica and other rock groups have been around for decades. What are the keys to their longevity?

Music

The Beach Boys: That's Why God Made the Radio

The surviving 1960s-era Beach Boys reunite for their 50th anniversary. When they compare this album to Sunflower, how far off are they?

Music

Rating the Performances at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards

Starting with the most memorable and ending with the most dull (or clichéd), here’s what happened on “music’s biggest night”.

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