"Smiling Pets" is a SonyJapan tribute album to the Beach Boys available domestically via theSecret Chiefs 3 / Mr. Bungle "Web of Mimicry" web site.
As you wouldguess from the title, the 17 covers found here draw primarily on thelegendary, influential 1965-66 "Pet Sounds" and (the never finished orofficially released) "Smile" albums. Normally I'm wary of any tributealbum, especially one taking on something as sacred as these 2 albums,but the quality of the covers really surprised me. Prior to hearingthis disc I was only familiar with 3 of the artists (Jim O'Rourke andDavid Grubbs, formerly of Gastr Del Sol and Thurston Moore of SonicYouth), the rest being: Adventures in Stereo, Secret Chiefs 3,Melt-Banana, SHORT HAIR FRONT, The Olivia Tremor Control, SportsGuitar, Ono Tetsu, FORMS, Harpy, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her,The Ships, David Grubbs, Feelds, John McEntire and DM3. Who are thesepeople? I have no idea and it doesn't really matter. The covers rangefrom relatively true to bizarre interpretations of the originals andthe artists seem to come from a wide range of musical styles. There's alittle bit of pop punk, rockabilly and noise mixed in with the morestraightforward pop and rock. Some of the stranger sounds include:female and male Japanese accented English vocals, strings, harmonica,bells, banjo, sample and noise collages, electronics, drum machines,electric guitar noise ... not all that much unlike the originals interms of diverse instrumentation and general wackiness (especially the"Smile" tunes). Only 2 tracks annoy me: Sports Guitar's whinyPavement-like "Wonderful" and David Grubb's inferior vocals on "WindChimes". Other than that, these covers are a lot of fun. This cd is forthe adventurous listener who can appreciate both the pop symphony andavant-garde visions of Brian Wilson as realized by an equallyavant-garde selection of artists. The big drawback is the $28 price tagwhich will most likely relegate "Smiling Pets" to the short lists ofonly the most fanatical Bungle/Sonic Youth/Gastr Del Sol fans and BeachBoys completests.