Here are some thoughts on some of the songs Life in the Dark, the latest record from the Felice Brothers. I’d say they got their Americana mojo back, but I don’t think they ever really lost it – more took a stroll down a different path for a while, and have now rejoined the original trail.
Aerosol Ball: A Cajun-inflected delight that is dark commentary on consumerism in a bubbly, danceable disguise. I will never look at the St. Paulie Girl the same way again.
Jack at the Asylum: I heard the first couple of bars and thought Oh, they did ‘Jack of Diamonds’ again?, which – yes, but also no. It’s Jack of Diamonds, done American Gods-style. The embodied voice of the frontier, slipping through time, hopscotching states; an American everyman, a rambler, a gambler, a long way from home, counting his cards and making his luck, long after his luck has run out, writing us all a note from the “looney bin” that is both warning and entreaty.
Triumph ’73: Echoes of Vietnam, though “rich man’s war” could just as easily apply to activities in the Middle East. I like to listen to this one … Continue reading
If Celebration, Florida (2011) was The Felice Brothers taking a hard left out of Americana into a dark, strange corner of indie rock, Favorite Waitress is them – to mix a metaphor somewhat – doubling down on that murky weirdness and swinging for the fences.
It begins with Bird on a Broken Wing, which I had to listen to a couple of times before I really started to like it. In many ways it extends a thread back to River Jordan, the last song on Celebration, Florida, and, as it happens, one of my favorite Felice Brothers songs. River Jordan is a slow burning geyser of hurt and rage; the last time I saw them perform it live was a transcendent experience, but also made me almost certain they were about ready to call it quits on being a band.
They didn’t, though, and Bird on a Broken Wing is the resolution, and, perhaps, ending, of that pain. The narrator has had a moment to breathe and reflect (and heal?) and also, perhaps, find some … Continue reading
While I cannot be in Austin this year, NTSIB friend Joy is, and she has graciously agreed to be a roving reporter. Below is her first dispatch. If you want to follow her adventures live, you may do so on Twitter and Instagram.
This year, I am pleased to be NTSIB’s correspondent-at-large in Austin. It’s my first South By Southwest, and I have thrown myself directly into the deep end. Swim along with me here on the blog, with live updates on Twitter!
Since SXSW can be an impenetrably overwhelming mess of day parties, showcases, special sessions, and free shows, I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff according to my own personal preferences. In reverse order, here are my most-anticipated acts of 2014.
7. Deap Vally
They’re loud. They’re crass. They’re women. And they crochet. This Los Angeles duo has found success in the UK and is on the verge of making it big in America. NTSIB friend Geordie McElroy describes them as “two-thirds of a girl gang” who should be “basically every teen girl’s role models”, and I am inclined to agree. Enjoy a sample of their balls-to-the-wall sound with “Hobo Playa”, off their single … Continue reading
It’s been almost approximately a year since I last saw the Diamond Doves (formerly the Dearland in Elvis Perkins and Dearland, now doing their own thing) and in that time they’ve changed: they’ve become tighter and more focused, and their drums are bigger and louder and roll like mighty waves. They were good before, but they’re better now. I’m also pleased to report that they are still making the hipsters dance. Here they are in action:
Next up was Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea. I (once again) had never heard them before and had no idea what to expect. Ladies and gentlemen: this band rocks. Nicole Atkins has an amazing voice – powerful, flexible, commanding, and sultry at the same time – and she and the band bring some serious jams. If you haven’t experienced them yet, you should get on that right away.
NTSIB loves the Felice Brothers. NTSIB also loves boys in dresses. Now we can enjoy our two great loves together! Hurray for Halloween!
Continuing my ongoing life-theme of music related traveling, last weekend NTSIB friend Joy and I drove up some twisty mountain roads to Poughkeepie to see Titus Andronicus and the Felice Brothers. Trivia: Joy first saw The Felice Brothers when they were playing on the subway platforms in Brooklyn; I only learned about them this past January, and for all of the times I’ve seen them this year, this show was the first one in an actual club. And it was wonderful.
Titus Andronicus was once again amazing. The crowd was of course much smaller than the one at Webster Hall, and during the first song I thought they might be a little bit lukewarm. Oh, was I ever wrong. As soon as the second song started, they began moshing. And I do mean moshing; there was hair, beer and limbs flying everyehere, Joy almost got knocked over four times, there were dudes in tweed sport coats pummeling the bejsus out of each other … Continue reading
- With the proceeds from a benefit concert played in Akron, Ohio, last autumn to honor Alfred McMoore – the artist who inadvertently named the band – the Black Keys Alfred McMoore Memorial Endowment Fund has been established to support community services for Akron residents like McMoore who suffered from schizophrenia.
- Andrew Bird will reprise his popular Gezelligheid concerts in December with dates in DC, Boston and Chicago.
- Neil Young’s highly-anticipated, Daniel Lanois-produced album Le Noise is up on NPR’s First Listen.
- A reminder for those in Northern California: The Yolo Throwdown Car and Music Festival is coming up this weekend, featuring the Sweet By and By, who are slated to hit the stage around 3:15 P.M.
- Our good friend Digger has been counting down the top ten Felice Brothers songs of their career so far, which includes the brilliant “Marie”.
The theme for my concert-going this summer seemed to be “voyages” and in particular water voyages, both to the water, or at least a couple of different beaches, and also on the water, specifically, the East River. As the temperature cools and the fall rainy season drifts in, I bring you some postcards from my last couple of trips:
Willie Nelson, Circus Maximus Theater, Ceaser’s Atlantic City: The show was a little bit more subdued than I was expecting, perhaps a concession to the venue, the age of the audience (there were people in the front row celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary), or a reflection of Willie Nelson also getting up there (77 and still touring!), or some combination of those things. But it was still a great show. It was, in many ways, something of a relief to be able to just sit down and listen to someone sing familiar songs, undistracted by festival crowds or complicated stage business. He did, among others, Good Hearted Woman, All the Girls I’ve Loved Before and City of New Orleans, and I left refreshed, as if I … Continue reading
And here’s part two of Jennifer’s Newport odyssey.
I had kind of had my fill of the festival crowd the day before, so on Sunday I was a terrible musical correspondent and spent the morning wandering around Newport looking at historic homes. The Mansions, as they are called, are the former vacation “cottages” of various 19th century robber barons. This is the back yard of the one called The Elms, and Louis XIV would feel right at home, not least because they have some of his wifes’ pillows in a case in their upstairs hallway:
In the afternoon I hopped a water taxi (can I tell you how much I LOVE water taxis? A lot!!) and went back out to the Festival for the Felice Brothers:
James Felice, Ian Felice, and Christmas
They played an oddly dirge-heavy set, though they did do funky music-hall versions of both Greatest Show on Earth and Frankie’s Gun. When they were finished it was time for me to leave and wind my … Continue reading