Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Feelies' "Here Before": Music Review

Great textures, not a weak track, excellent production by Bill Million & Glenn Mercer. This will grow on me. I tend to be cautious about reunions twenty years on, but this continues where "The Good Earth" in its folksier side merged with the softer songs on the overlooked "Only Life."

Not as exuberant as "Crazy Rhythms" or as Dylanesque as the angrier "Time for a Witness," so this extends more the Feelies as they were in the mid-to-late '80s. This mid-tempo, steady, strumming pastoral outing reminds me of Luna, where drummer Stan Demeski went after the Feelies, and New Jersey neighbors Speed the Plough & Yo La Tengo (a member of StP & YLT get nods in the liner notes). Those who followed Wake Ooloo, Glenn's solo work, and the earlier side-projects such as the Trypes will recognize signature sounds swirling about now and then. Not to mention those who admire another group who rose as the Feelies settled, Galaxie 500.

I like the understated vocals, more unassuming even on the peppier "Time is Right," as they provide a solid foundation for the band. "When You Know" and "Way Down" catch the ear right away. There's an insistent riff within Velvet-like "On and On" even if I hear fewer percussion tricks from Dave Weckerman outside of this tune, but repeated listenings may bring out more secrets. The guitar work on this song digs in, under layered drones.

There's an appealing maturity to this ensemble, with Brenda Sauter's bass on "Bluer Skies" underpinning the optimism that invigorates this impressive, yet modestly inspirational more than melancholic return from one of my favorite bands. I've waited a long time for this, the fifth album, from one of my favorite bands. Glad to hear it turned out so well. (Posted to Amazon US 4-20-11 & 4-21)


Anonymous said...

Just discovered your work (via the PopMatters review of "Red Shambhala." Great stuff. Love The Feelies. And yeah, Only Life was overlooked.

Fionnchú said...

Thanks, Anon. I keep wondering if anyone reads my PM reviews, so this is welcome confirmation. Glad that you share my disparate interests, if Red Buddhists and Hoboken drone-jangle vets are any indication.

Anonymous said...

I listen mostly to classical these days but one of the alterna/pop cds I still play is The Good Earth -- great album from a great band. I liked Only Life mucho as well, but I only have it on LP so it doesn't get played as often. Good to hear about the update.

Greetings from Boston!

Fionnchú said...

Daniel, the production on "Good Earth" by Peter Buck's wonderful, for what must have been a low budget. I wonder what the re-releases of the first two Feelies albums sound like? I have the "original" early CDs of both, and I play them often. Thanks for the greetings. Go Red Sox!