The Felice Brothers-Celebration, Florida

Under ticks and tocks and plucked banjo ‘Fire at the pageant’ suddenly bursts into a choir of children and in a blaze (excuse the pun) of noise a mantra of ‘fire fire call 911’ fights for space among instruments and layers of obscure noise, it sounds like Bob Dylan playing at a particularly unruly kids party, it doesn’t sound like the Felice Brothers. ‘Container Ship’ starts in a more familiar territory, soft folk whimsy, before breaking out a beat straight off ‘Loose Fur’ it all ends with a solemn piano and strings and fades with ghostly washes. ‘Honda Civic’ stomps its mark with horns aplenty and if it weren’t for Ian’s raspy vocal you could swear you were listening to ‘Apples in Stereo’.’ Oliver Stone is by contrast a simple piano ballad and a vignette of the movie director of the title. ‘Ponzi’ opens with a sample and quickly turns into a Wilco style centrepiece to the record. At this halfway point it’s like the brothers just discovered technology as synths and bleeps make an appearance. At first it’s odd, like many quirks on this record, it will take a few listens to get where they coming from. As ‘Back in the Dancehall’ starts I’m reminded of ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox, it’s a slow song that builds and ‘Dallas’, complete with its Johnny Cash style talking verse, calms down the experimentation and ends up sounding most like the band that made ‘Yonder is the Clock’. The boys then amp up for ‘Cus’s Catskill gym’ its R.E.M. meets the Levellers and ends in a cacophony of horns and sing along las. ‘Refrain’ has King of Limbs drums but never really goes anywhere. ‘Best I Ever Had’ is all picked guitars and mumbled vocals and feels like a campfire song, you can hear the strings humming against the fret board, its open and raw and better for it. Album closer ‘River Jordan’ swoons in with a single drum then becomes Neil Young and Crazy Horse all stoned but purposeful, its six minutes of strings and organ with a guitar solo that slices through the middle signalling the arrival of the epic crescendo then its back to the drum. I think that this is an album that will divide fans but its one that see the band branch out into experimental territory with results that reward with each listen.

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