Buoys of Summer singer breaks down what’s yacht, what’s not


For all the sailing, pina coladas and making love in the dunes of the Cape, yacht rock is a deeply divisive genre. Casually mention that you think Steely Dan isn’t yacht rock, or that Sade is, at a party and someone is libel to knock your captain’s cap to the deck and kick it overboard.

One thing that’s not up for debate: Buoys of Summer are Boston’s best nautical-themed cover band.

With Buoys set to set sail at the Sinclair on Aug. 25, we asked the band’s singer and bassist, Davina Yannetty, to get controversial with the yacht rock catalog and grade a few standards. She didn’t flinch, offering up what is yacht and what is not, what is perfect and what belongs trapped at the bottom of the sea in Davy Jones’s locker.

“Rosanna,” TOTO

Grade A-

Pros: The groove is, if you’ll pardon my use of jazzer slang, totally cookin’. The drums, the piano, the bass – you can’t beat ‘em!

Cons: It’s an absolute workout to play! This is, famously, the song I used to audition every member of the group. I figured if they can do this one, they can do anything else I need them to do.

“How Much I Feel,” Ambrosia

Grade B-

Pros: Beautiful vocal harmonies on the choruses, and a nice, smooth groove.

Cons: While it’s very smooth, there’s something about this song that just doesn’t hit that yacht rock button for me.

“Peg,” Steely Dan

Grade: A+

Pros: This song literally has it all. Folklore. Made-up slang. A tight groove. Michael McDonald on backing vocals. Jay Gradon’s guitar solo (after Becker and Fagen went through seven other session guitarists).

Cons: Have you ever tried to sing the backing vocals on this song? Ouch. Also, I kinda hate when Donald Fagen says “when you smile for the camera/I know I love you better,” because it reminds me of a man telling a woman how she’d “look so pretty” if she just smiled. I’ve made a lot of memes about it. As I always like to say: To love Steely Dan is to make fun of Steely Dan.

“Dreams,” Fleetwood Mac

Grade: C-

Pros: I love this song. A lot. I love the entire “Rumours” album a lot. This track has a nice, chill vibe that would mesh well among other yacht rock songs. Plus, it’s a rare Fleetwood Mac song about a relationship ending. (A little yacht sarcasm for you!)

Cons: This is a controversial opinion to some, but this one just isn’t yacht rock to me. While there’s some overlap in the ’70s SoCal sound and yacht rock, that’s not happening here. It’s more of a straight soft-rock song.

“What a Fool Believes,” The Doobie Brothers

Grade: A+

This is it. The gold standard. The mold. The blueprint. This is the yacht rock song. Michael McDonald’s flawless vocals intertwine so perfectly with the Captain-and-Tennille-inspired keyboard parts, and there’s a steady feel on the drums to keep it all together. You feel so warm and content listening to the smooth music that you forget that it’s a song about someone getting their heart broken. s.

For tickets and details, visit sinclaircambridge.com

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