THE FELICE BROTHERS Yonder Is The Clock (Team Love)
If Neko Case’s fabulous new album presents a somewhat glamorised, glossy version of Americana, the latest long player by upstate New Yorkers The Felice Brothers takes the genre back to its rusting, creaky origins. These serrated melodies, by turns soothing and raucous, could almost be the younger Tom Waits covering refugees from “The Basement Tapes”, grainy, sepia snapshots of that old, weird America.
These are insidious songs; they may not grab you on first listen, but live with them and their lurching mysteries will burrow into the receptive listener’s brain. My favourite Felice Brothers songs are invariably the slow-burners such as “The Big Surprise” and “Cooperstown”, which appears to equate religion with baseball and seems to gain extra resonance by having its lyrical location pinned as “Georgia in the spring of 1905”. I like the quiet ones too, though: “All When We Were Young” matches its gentle but staunch anti-war sentiment to perhaps the album’s most delicious music, and the enigmatic storytelling of “Boy From Lawrence County” is weary with resignation, like a Richmond Fontaine song that’s mislaid its plot. “Sailor Song” finds the album at its Tom Waitsiest, with its nautical subject matter, drunken piano and wheezing vocals – not that that’s a criticism, of course, more an indication of its quality. In comparison, the raucous, Poguesy party moments such as “Chicken Wire” and “Memphis Flu” seem a bit one-dimensional, although “Run Chicken Run” claws its way back up with wickedly unforgettable rhymes such as “The barber he’s all smiles/He’s from the British Isles”.
It was when I noticed the wheeling accordions fluttering around some of these songs that it struck me: “Yonder Is The Clock” is what Bob Dylan’s woefully disappointing “Together Through Life” should’ve been, a rootsy hoedown that feeds the brain as much as it satisfies the feet. If only every tenth person who bought that album purchased this as well.
This is another indie vinyl release of exceptional quality, more ammunition to broadside those who complain that modern records are just CDs with scratches. Pressed on four vivid-sounding sides of 45 rpm vinyl, sleeved in a gorgeous thick cardboard gatefold and bundled with an MP3 download code, it’s a wonder to behold. Thanks, Team Love.Home