Tuesday, 20 April 2010

MWW FAVOURITE: The Felice Brothers

I first read about The Felice Brothers in an issue of Uncut magazine a few years back and remember them mentioning The Band and Dylan as obvious influences and thinking I had to check them out! Anyway, I forgot about them and then a few months later I remembered the article, but for the life of me couldn't find the issue or what the band was called. All I could remember was that they were called The 'Something' Brothers and I think I ended up listening to The Avett Brothers or The Deadstring Brothers instead and thinking that both sounded pretty cool, but didn't sound like The Band or Dylan. Anyway, I can't remember exactly how I finally found them and I guess it's pretty unimportant...

The first album I heard was 'Tonight At The Arizona', which I had downloaded to check if they sounded anything like Dylan or The Band and obviously they did and that's when the love affair began. But, just to make a point, as Simone once put it in an interview...

"You have to promise not to ask us anything about Bob Dylan and the Band. A lot of people say we sound like them and we're tired of it. We're influenced by everything - Huey Lewis and the News ..."
 When I first heard the album I remember thinking how sad the album sounded and how intimate it all felt. Like real folk music should feel....as if they were playing just for me. 'Roll On Arte' and 'The Ballad of Lou the Welterweight' were the first 2 tracks that hooked me in and I remember weeks later hearing a band busking and cover 'Lou' and feeling like I was part of a special club lucky enough to have heard of the band. And what a chorus! Me and my fiancee still sing it randomly to this day. Don't worry though, I went out and bought the album the following day!

"oh my mouth ain't fed, my lips aint cherry red
and my grin might show my bad teeth
and all the people i pass, they give me a glance
as if im some lower class thief
but to you I'm fine and I'm in your mind
even if I'm not around

and my arms are strong and that's where you belong,
given the love that we've found

After hearing this album I had to hear all their other work, which up until that point included the out of print 'Iantown' (which I only recently got hold of!), 'Through These Reins and Gone' and 'Adventures of The Felice Brothers Vol. 1'. It would be these first three releases that would pretty much make-up their first official release and some songs, such as 'Frankie's Gun' and 'Whiskey in My Whiskey', would also see a reappearance on their second official album, 'The Felice Brothers'. These first three albums are still essential and contain several tracks that wouldn't make reappearances, such as the excellent 'Her Eyes Dart Around' and 'Trouble Been Hard'.

In 2008 the band released their self-titled album which would be their 2nd or 5th album depending on how you look at things. The album takes on a fuller and sound this time and isn't quite as stripped down and lonely as their first album, but nonetheless is packed full of songs begging to be seen in a live show. If anything the album is more varied, with jams like 'The Greatest Show On Earth' alongside the upbeat classic, 'Frankie's Gun', and the heartbreaking 'Goddamn You Jim' or the epic 'Ruby Mae'.

This album was quickly followed up by 2009's 'Yonder Is The Clock', which would be their first release full of songs not found on any of the 3 earlier albums. This album was picked as Uncut's album of the month and it was such a refreshing change to see them there instead of Paul Weller or The Hold Steady. haha. The review is great and you can read it here. As with their previous album, this one combined heavier tracks ('Penn Station' and 'Run Chicken Run') alongside long ballads such as 'Katie Dear' and the haunting 'Cooperstown' that really make for a complete album.

The band also released an album of outtakes, entitled 'Mixtape', from 'Yonder Is The Clock' last year, but it was only available at live shows, so unfortunately I haven't yet heard it, but hope to one day soon! Last year also saw Simone Felice's departure from The Felice Brothers to concentrate on his writing and his new band, The Duke & The King and they released their incredible debut last year and are very much their own band. If you've not heard the album, do yourself a favour and check it out.

In conclusion, this band is something very special and although they haven't got anywhere near the recognition they deserve, as long as they keep putting out albums of such quality I'll keep buying them. Of their three albums, the first 2 are in the top 100 albums for 2007 and 2008 on RYM and their third is in the top 350 for 2009 (which is a joke as it was my favourite of last year!). I also just read that they might now be coming to Sweden's 'Way Out West' festival this summer, which would be a dream come true for me, as I am yet to see them live!
Their three official albums are on Spotify for those of you lucky enough to have an account and The Duke & The King are also on there:
It doesn't get any realer than this.


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