As violent demonstrations roil Hong Kong, a bold group of volunteers is providing moral support and physical protection for young protesters
Wake the World: The Friends Sessions
The Beach Boys
Unlike Friends, the 12-cut, 26-minute trifle that the Beach Boys hoped would halt their late-1960s slide, this 32-cut, 68-minute stack-o-tracks, a cappella mixes, outtakes, alternate versions, and demos sounds like the work of musicians who were determined to keep doing what they did best. They also sound determined to discover new best things to do. And whether it is the experimental vocals, the experimental instrumentation, or the experimental preponderance of snippet-length songs, this digital-only compilation sounds a lot like SMiLE.
The Bootleg Series Vol. 14: More Blood, More Tracks
For 44 years, critics and fans alike have ranked Blood on the Tracks among Bob Dylan’s finest achievements. This box demystifies it to a fault. First, by presenting the recordings at their actual speed (Dylan had them sped up a smidgen to boost their briskness), it risks making the familiar version seem inauthentic. Second, and more important, by supplying each of the 82 oh-so-slightly-different takes that Dylan recorded in New York, it risks making listeners never want to hear any of these excellent songs again.
Circles represent infinity. They also represent aimlessness, as in “running around in.” P.O.D. circa 2018 embodies both senses: infinity in that Sonny Sandoval’s rapped-sung-shouted lyrics still attest to his faith, aimlessness in that no pop-music style—not even P.O.D.’s frequently interesting, sometimes fascinating mongrel-metal kind—is going anywhere, unless the Auto-Tune cul-de-sac counts. Sandoval doesn’t use Auto-Tune. The guitars, drums, and bass likewise rage against the machine. A good pummel-fest is had by all.
twenty one pilots
There are good reasons to find twenty one pilots annoying: the lowercase “stylization” of their name, the millennial wimpiness of Tyler Joseph’s more “sensitive” vocal takes, the pointlessly complicated allegory in which they couch what they have to say. There’s no denying, however, that their rap-emo-electronica frappé is smoother than ever, or that their catchier songs (on this album “Chlorine,” “The Hype,” and “Morph”), do what good pop should—get inside your head and worm away until you find it playing of its own accord.
Besides Wake the World: The Friends Sessions, Capitol has recently released two other Beach Boys 50th-anniversary digital downloads: I Can Hear Music: The 20/20 Sessions and Beach Boys on Tour: 1968. Whatever the reason for such largesse—that in Europe unreleased recordings pass into the public domain after 50 years, that royalties can only be spent by their beneficiaries if those beneficiaries are alive—the recordings illuminate one of the Beach Boys’ dimmest periods.
On Tour documents eight nearly identical concerts (five in the United States, three in London) that find the Boys in surprisingly good spirits considering their Maharishi Mahesh Yogi tour debacle from earlier in the year. I Can Hear Music, meanwhile, raises interesting questions. Why, for instance, didn’t the “alternate take” of “The Nearest Faraway Place” make 20/20? And how differently might history have turned out if Charles Manson had gotten the co-writing credit on “Never Learn Not to Love” that he deserved? —A.O.