Imagine a Brian Wilson tribute with no Beach Boys songs. Late Music uses Brian’s back-up band The Wondermints; Brian’s co-producer Andy Paley on piano and glockenspiel; and Brian’s back-up singers The Honeys. Diken sings just like Brian too. The harmonies are sumptuous; the reverb quotient just like mid-‘60s Cali. In fact, close your eyes, lie in the sun, and let this loudly play on a nearby boombox and you’re magically transported to a beach by the Pacific circa 1966. It’s note-for-note perfect, even down to the production details.
Longtime New Jersey music fans will know Diken as the drummer of The Smithereens, one of The Garden State’s most beloved homegrown products. Bell Sound is actually his partnership with another Jerseyboy, gifted arranger Pete DiBella. Diken’s from Woodridge; Dibella Hackensack. In 1976, Dibella took out a free classified in the Aquarian Weekly looking for a “singing drummer into The Beach Boys.” They met, then met again 20 years later. Late Music is, finally, the flower of their mutual vision.
With soft breathy vocals, reverb-drenched production accentuating the Power Pop proclivities of the Diken/Dibella tandem, Late Music obstinately stays within its groove and makes no concessions to trends or what year it is. In that regard, it’s brave, a one-dimensional stone beauty! Diken plays autoharp, mellotron, percussion, co-produces (with Dave Amels) and sings lead and back-up on these carefully crafted originals. Dibella sings, arranges, co-produces and plays guitar, bass, organ, piano, synthesizer and something called piano banjo.
If I wasn’t told that this is from the drummer of The Smithereens, I’d actually think it might’ve been some long lost outtake session from Pet Sounds.