I honestly didn’t know what to expect when the new Felice Brothers album, Celebration, Florida, arrived in my mailbox. I’d been a fan of the tune “Frankie’s Gun” a few years back on their self-titled release, but that was really about as far as it went. I had failed to hear their 2009 release and the band kind of fell off my radar as just a “one-hit Americana wonder.”
Not anymore. The new album has been in my car for about 3 weeks and it keeps getting better with every listen. From the haunting opener “Fire at the Pageant” to the burning closer “River of Jordan” the band shows that they are much more than a one trick pony. The album is laced with samples and loops that sound anything but contrived. (For contrived see: Steve Earle). It could be that the songwriting is so superb that the tracks could work filled with kazoo fills, but it’s more than that. To me, the sounds complement the songwriting to create the empty haunting feeling of the characters from the songs. I have to say it has been a long time since an album has conjured up so many different images in my brain or left me with so many questions about the fate of the characters.
Standouts include the aforementioned tunes above along with the horn laden “Honda Civic” and the sing along chorus of “Ponzi” (see video link below) but there really isn’t a bad track on the album. I don’t know the band’s history or aspirations, but in my mind this is their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, signaling that they shouldn’t be labeled an Americana or Alt-Country band, but should be labeled truly as musicians. They are making an artistic statement. They have documented a period of where they are creatively. And we are the lucky few who get to share it.
RIYL: Faulker, Schitz, Chicago
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