Blaine Campbell: Under The Tidal Wave

Blaine Campbell’s “Under The Tidal Wave” features one of the strongest opening tracks I’ve heard in a long time, “Shoutin’ Don’t Count.” With a riff reminiscent of The Beach Boys’ “Do It Again,” Campbell sings “Under the tidal wave, I gotta get away, Somethin’ ain’t right with my soul…I don’t know…”

“Do It Again” was a key Beach Boys track, a proud Mike Love / Brian Wilson declaration that it was hip to be square as they looked back at the beach that made the boys. There’s also a little Eric Carmen Raspberries swagger on the track…it swings effortlessly, it has all of the elements of a hit single, it immediately engages the listener and pulls them into the album.

“Happy Faces,” previously a Big Stir Records Digital Single, carries the Beach Boys motif while adding a taste of the Ram-era Paul McCartney. It’s a story song, a fantasy with whimsical characters…”But I wanna show them new and different places, Where they can discover all those happy faces,,,” The “ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba ba” refrain recalls The Cowsills, Sergio Mendes, that wonderful sunny bossa nova harmony 60s vibe.

So many complementary influences here…Wilson, McCartney, a little Nilsson“Small Town” has that cartoon-ish charm of White Album songs like “Honey Pie” and “Rocky Raccoon.”

“Someday You’ll Be Mine” employs the Four Freshmen influence of big-yet-gentle harmonies from reflective pieces like “Warmth Of The Sun.” The biggest takeaway from the album is that every track is carefully considered and constructed. The shifts in tone, mood, and dynamics are are a textbook of mid-60s harmonic rock, with subtle psychedelic touches as accents, nothing overpowering but all working together to create a specific feel.

The title track is an instrumental, shimmering with twangy guitar, and a sweet, orchestral sound completely saturated in California sunshine.

“Blue Dolphin” is cut from the same cloth as “Surf’s Up”…twangy lower-string, Duane Eddy-style guitar fills add a moody, melancholy tone, and you really feel the McCartney / Wilson dynamic here…the overlap, the friendly competition that drove each composer to outdo the other.

“Our Life” is lush, vivid, another soundscape, while “Caroline’s Rainbow” is a second, piano-driven instrumental. The album closes with “Time To Say Goodbye,” an innocent “Pet Sounds” reflection, a fitting finale to this ride to the California coast.

This is a strong, brilliant excursion into a sound from days gone by that has been chased by many artists, who sometimes found that the true heart of the music had eluded them. Blaine Campbell found that heart on “Under The Tidal Wave,” thirteen tracks that are like precious gems set in a 24-karat gold band. You’ll want to add this one to your collection.