Monday, May 15, 2017

THE FEELIES/In Between reviewed!

     

     The Feelies exist in a very enviable position these days: their own musical universe.  Nobody makes albums quite like The Feelies and that is a good and bad thing.  Sure, it makes them unique but it also makes it difficult for their label to market them. Are they alternative? Yeah, but no. Are they Americana? No, but kinda sorta. Are they any good? Very much so..  and then some.


     The original quartet’s 1980 album CRAZY RHYTHMS was just that – a platter filled with quirky, jerky guitar Pop that seemed to mix The Velvet Underground with Television and The dBs. It was Post-Punk/New Wave for intellectuals.  However, the band faded from view for a few years before re-emerging with the excellent 1986 album THE GOOD EARTH. On this album, the band's music was more focused and less frenetic. The band’s line-up on that sophomore release was comprised of original members Glenn Mercer (vocals/guitars) and Bill Million (guitar/vocals) plus Brenda Sauter (bass/vocals), Dave Weckerman (percussion) and Stan Demeski (drums). And I’m glad to say that that line-up is intact today, which is quite a feat in the history of Rock music.  Although not prolific (on average, they go three to ten years between album releases), The Feelies have found a groove that they are comfortable with and they take their time when crafting new music.  


     On IN BETWEEN, their sixth full length album, the quintet sounds like they are reflecting on where they’ve been yet remain hopeful about the future. Then again, The Feelies have always walked the melancholy line – not even the dark, grey clouds that line the musical horizon can stop them from smelling the roses and strumming a few chords while they're at it. In a sense, their music is closer to the Blues than what one would consider Pop music. Their songs aren’t particularly upbeat, they don’t play too many chords and they spend a lot of time circling the same sonic spaces… yet every song takes the listener to a different emotional destination.  With IN BETWEEN, you can picture the band members out on a porch strumming away just as easily as you can imagine them on stage in a sweaty club.  However, The Feelies have loads of haunting melodies floating around to keep you warm at night. Perhaps they play quirky New Wave Blues inspired by The Velvet Underground? See what I said about marketing?  So hard to put this band in a box.  Best you go out and decide for yourself...

     The Feelies are truly a band that more people need to connect with. The new generation of Alterna-Rock kids should look to them for guidance while the older music fans can go to them for reassurance. I’ll probably be 60 years old before The Feelies put out another record but I’ll be patient and enjoy their inspiring back catalog until they do!


Keep on truckin'!
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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