Archive for the ‘The Feelies’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON (December 7, 2017).

For the longest time, I thought that these last four shows of 2017 would be the final live shows on the Rheostatics Live website.  But then mid-September, Darrin added more than 20 historical shows to the site.  So, there will be some older shows posted about in the new year.  But for now, while the Rheostatics are recording their next album (!), it’s fun to look back on shows from just one year ago.

First of three shows for the Horseshoe Tavern’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Kindly recorded and provided by Mark Sloggett and Matt Kositsky.

The opening band for this night was Ensign Broderick.

The show opens with “Saskatchewan,” it’s got a two-minute quiet guitar intro before the song proper starts.  It’s a very quiet and chill rendition, with Martin almost whispering.  It’s not until about 10 minutes that the song comes roaring out.

Starting “Supercontroller” is Hugh Marsh with a cool violin solo–a trippy echoing section.  “Supercontroller” is so simple but I really like it, it’s so very catchy.  It shifts to “AC/DC on My Stereo” which is just too simple for my tastes (homage to AC/DC?).  The Clark section is weirdly flat–maybe the sound balance is off?  There’s lots of Hugh and the a crazy sloppy ending.

People shout out requests and then someone says, “You can’t touch the Rheostatics.”  To which Bidini responds, “Literally, it’s in our contract—no touching.”  Clark chimes in, “That’s why we never did a double bill with The Feelies.” [groans]  Clark: “Teacher humor…. I am older you know.”

Tim plays acoustic guitar for a lovely “Rear View,” a pretty acoustic number with a nice beat.  Then DB thanks everyone for coming out on a Thursday night.

Clark asks if a pickerel is a small pike.  Martin gets really into the discussion.  How a walleye is called pickerel.  And that pike is bony, although many species of pike are pickerel they are not related to walleye.  DB: “That concludes our PowerPoint presentation.”  The Clark continues to talk about making rainbow trout in avocado and olive oil, with all the free radicals.

Back to the music, it’s great to hear “The Headless One,” (apparently a Martin request).  There’s some great violin from Hugh and great backing vocals from Martin.  It’s followed by “Michael Jackson” with nice pizzicato strings and a big, soaring ending that totally kills.

Clark says he heard Martin say to DB: “Stop being a  rock n roll grandstander.”  And DB said, “I was being a rock n roll grandpa.”  To which Martin coined, “grandstand grandpa.”

“Mountains and Sea” is a new song featuring Hugh Marsh.  Martins guitar is a little too loud, then about halfway in, they mess up.  DB: “Let’s do that again.   Band meeting.  I can’t remember that chord.”  Live rehearsals… this is extra!   Martin says something about their old live rehearsals at the Rivoli and Martin thought they were jam-packed and he saw a video and found that there were like 14 people there (it’s a video of Martin spanking Dave C on the ass with his guitar for messing up).  Tim: I told you we were gonna fuck it up.

Clark offers a vote: it’s rare in any society that your voice gets heard.  Should they do it from the top of the song or from the A minor part.  [A minor wins].

Clark’s neighbor made the Guinness book of world records for making the worlds smallest playable violin.  And Martin says he really like the name “Tim Gillette.”

Up next is Tim’s “Music is the Message” a slow but pretty song with lots of violin.  It’s followed by “Sickening Song, which sounds great with just accordion.

“Sickening Song” sounded good with just accordion and guitar but then it gets pretty wobbly and they have to stop.  But they get through it happily.  Martin talks about looking for an operetta that he and Tom wrote called “These are things I cannot tell my dad.”  I  thought I found it in my parents house, but it turned out to be us working on “Sickening Song,” playing it 20 times.  Tim: “I think your dad erased that tape.”

PIN sounds good but “they’ll never get the ending.”  That’s why you play three nights because the first night’s always shit.  They start talking about cursing on TV and how you can hear someone say Shit on CBC at 8PM.  Martin jokes that at 8 o’ clock “that’s bullsandwiches” and then you hit 9 and it’s “motherfucker.”

DB: If you came from out of town thank you.  If you’re not from out of town that’s fine too.   Just not quite as awesome.  And thanks for a youthful-looking crowd.  That’s amazing.  Lots of lovely sweaters.  Sir you have a Tea Party shirt you have to stand at least ten feet back from me.  I’m kidding as long as you’re not wearing leather pants.  Clark: I thought he was talking tea party political shit.

Martin begins, “Remember….”
DB: “No not really.”
Clark: “Take us away there Jerry Garcia.”
DB: “I’d like to wish the group good luck as we embark on this next piece.”  “Here Come the Wolves” opens with a deep riff and tribal drums and Martin says, “Speaking of leather pants…”  To which DB concedes, “This is definitely our most Tea Party song for sure.”  This is an unusual song and I love that it’s got heavy parts and I look forward to the recorded official version.

    I like the way it is loud and heavy and then there’s a quiet martin bit

Northern Wish starts out rather quietly, but it sounds great.  It segues into Clark singing “Johnny Had a Secret” acapella.

DB says, “We’re gonna take you home.  We’re gonna stop 3 places along the way.  The first is a slow and moody “Stolen Car.”  The second is a bonkers “Legal Age Life” with the guys barking at each other and DB just rolling his r’s for a good ten seconds.  Clark: “Let’s dedicate that one to Monty Hall.”

While the next song starts, Dave asks, “Martin do you ever have lapel neurosis?”  Martin: Oh, you have lapel bulge—it has no crease.”

DB: Anyone been to California?  Martin: We’re heading down to do our next album in California

Martin tells a long story about Compass Point in the tropics where they recorded their last album together.  He talks about an old roll of film—you tried to make them count but inevitably there are fuckups.  He’s been photographing his old slides with a macro lens.  He found a picture of them swimming at night snorkeling.  The place made Martin weep.  Dave and Dave stayed in Tina Weymouth’s place.  And yet, in front of the apartments is a pool!  The Caribbean Ocean is right there.  It’s luxury overkill.

  This leads to a discussion of magenta.  Does anybody like magenta?  It has to be there but we hate it.  If you’re ready to wear a magenta power suit I would have to bow to you.  Ryan was just changing the lights to magenta–a lighting joke.

“Digital Beach” starts slow, but “Dreamline” takes off.  Martin has a lot of fun with it and it eventually merges into a lovely acoustic “Claire

As the song fades out Dave starts singing Big Bottom and the band doesn’t change the music at all, but Tim sings along with him.

After an encore Clark comes out for a drum solo which leads to a stripped down sounding (but great vocal mix) of “Soul Glue.”  Tim sounds great and the backing vocals are spot on.  The end of the song blends nicely with “Song of Flight.”  The final three minutes are a rollicking crazy sloppy fun lunatic version of “RDA.”

Tim observes, “That was show stopper if I ever heard one.”

[READ: December 1, 2015] “Oktober”

I like Martin Amis a lot.  Although I have to say that this story confused me.  Now, it’s true that Amis can be a trickster when he writes, but this story wasn’t fancy at all, it was just…unsatisfying.  And really long.

Told in first person, the story begins with “I” drinking black tea in a hotel in Munich.  It was the time of Oktoberfest.

Next to him is a businessman, Geoffrey, on his mobile phone.  The man is aggressive and seems angry, speaking about clause 4C and saying things like “I’m accustomed to dealing with people who have some idea of what they’re up to.”

The photographer shows up to take a picture of the narrator.  They talk about Germans and refugees until it’s time to go.  He looks at his phone.  Of the 1800 messages none are from his wife or children. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FEELIES-Crazy Rhythms (bonus downloads) (2010).

The other day when I was playing Crazy Rhythms I noticed a little card that I had never noticed before.  It said that if I went to the label’s website, I could download bonus tracks.  That was pretty cool, so I did.

The are five tracks.  “Fa Cé-La” says it is a single version although it sounds even more spare and underproduced than the album version (and it’s a tad slower). “The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness” and Moscow Nights” are demos.  “Boy” really sounds like a demo (the wood blocks are almost piercing!).  It’s interesting that the guitar solo, which sounds random on record was planned that way.  On “Moscow” the singer’s channeling Lou Reed pretty intently.

The next two tracks are live from a reunion tour in 2009.  I’m not exactly sure who was in the band, but that’s okay, the songs sound good.   “Crazy Rhythms” has a (simple) drum solo in the middle (more of a beat-keeping than a solo per se), and an extended jam towards the end song.  And the final song is a cover of Jonathan Richman’s “I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms,” at a frenetic two-minute pace.

Not bad for free downloads, eh?

[READ: December 31, 2011] “A Shade Less Perfect”

After reading all of those Max Barry blog posts, getting to read a real story is a real treat.

This is a very simple story of one-upmanship (a common trope of sitcoms–in fact just the other night Up All Night ran the “two brothers who must compete against each other at everything and never admit that they have failed at something” script).  And this story falls into the same general area, but Barry puts a surprising twist on the end.

Jonathan and Elizabeth are going to house of Jonathan’s boss, Dave.  Elizabeth likes Dave’s wife Julie.  They both had babies around the same time and met in birthing classes, so they are excited to catch up (it’s been about ten months since they’ve all seen each other).

Dave tends to lord everything over Jonathan at work.  Jonathan says he’s okay with this at work–Dave is his boss after all, but he doesn’t want to deal with it out side of work, too.  Naturally, Dave has a huge house and a convertible and every other material joy.  Even a nanny. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FEELIES-Crazy Rhythms (1980).

Not too many albums start out with clicking blocks and quiet guitars that build for a minute before the actual song kicks in.  Not too many albums sound like early Cure sung by Lou Reed and not too many albums are called Crazy Rhythms when the thing that’s crazy about them is their vocals and guitars.  But that’s what you get with The Feelies debut.

In addition to the blocks, the opening song also features some sh sh sh sounds as a rhythm (techniques used by The Cure on Seventeen Seconds, also 1980).  There’s two guitar solos, each one vying for top spot in different speakers and, yes, the rhythms are a little crazy.

The album feels like it is experimenting with tension–there’s two vocalists often singing at the same time, but not in harmony.  There are oftentimes two guitars solos at the same time, also not in harmony.  The snare drum is very sharp and there’s all manner of weird percussion (all four members are credited with playing percussion).

That early-Cure sound reigns on “Loveless Love” as well, a slow builder with that trebly guitar.  There’s a lot of tension, especially with the interesting percussion that plays in the background.  And there’s that whole Lou Reed vibe in some of the vocals.

But not every song sounds like that, “Fa Cé-La” is a punky upbeat song with two singers trying to out sing the other.  “Original Love” is another short song, it’s fast and frenetic and fairly simple. It’s as if they couldn’t decide if they were going to be The Velvet Underground or New Wave punks.

The next surprise comes from their choice of covers: “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey”).  It goes at breakneck speed with some surprising pace changes after the chorus.  And a wonderful ringing percussion that makes the song sound even more tense than it is.  “Moscow Nights” is a more traditional song (although the backing vocals seem very spartan.

“Raised Eyebrows” is almost an instrumental, until the last-minute when the seemingly random vocals kick in.  And the final track, “Crazy Rhythms” seems to combine the speed of the faster tracks with the insanity of the other tracks.  It’s a pretty amazing debut, really heralding an age of music.

  It’s a shame it took them 6 years to make another (very different sounding) record.

[READ: February 8, 2012] “To Reach Japan”

I love Alice Munro’s stories, but I found this one a bit confusing.  Now, I admit that i read this under poor circumstances (while I was supposed to be attending a company-wide presentation), so that may have led to my confusion. But it felt like there was some questionable juxtapositions of the timeline in this story.

It opens simply enough with Greta and her daughter Katy waving goodbye to Peter (the husband and father) as they pull away from the train station.

The story immediately jumps back to Peter’s mother and how she fled on foot from Soviet Czechoslovakia into Western Europe with baby Peter in tow.  Peter’s mother eventually landed in British Columbia,where she got a job teaching.

The second time jump comes a few paragraphs later.  It seems like we’re back in the present, but the section opens, “It’s hard to explain it to anybody now–the life of women at that time.”  This describes how it was easier for a woman if she was a “poetess” rather than a “poet.”  But I’m not exactly sure when that was.  Presumably when Greta (who is the poet) was younger, but how long ago was that?  In Toronto, even?

The story jumps back to the present to say why Greta and Katy are on the train and Peter isn’t.  They are going to housesit for a month in Toronto while Peter goes to Lund for a summer job.

Then it jumps back to when Greta was a poetess and actually had poems published.  The journal was based in Toronto, but there was a party in Vancouver for the editor.  So she went.  And she had a lousy  time among the local literati.  She gets drunk and sits in a room by herself, but soon enough a man approaches her and offers to take her home. There is the potential for something more to come of it but it never materializes.  But she never forgot the man’s name: Harris Bennett, journalist. (more…)

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The Feelies were based out of Haledon, NJ, a town not more than fifteen minutes from my house.  I’ve always felt this weird association to them.  One day a coworker drove me past one of the band members’ houses when I worked in North Haledon (in retrospect this was probably bullshit).

It was this album that introduced me to them.  Prior to the internet, it wasn’t always easy to find out how many albums a band had out, so I assumed this was their first.  I’d assumed that we were close in age and that I could have run into them at any local club or hangout.  Well, it turned out that this was their third and their first came out in 1980.  When I was 11.  So, clearly  there is absolutely no way we were peers.

Somehow, when I first heard The Feelies, I had not been exposed to The Velvet Underground (what?).  So, when I heard them, it didn’t occur to me to say, “Hey that guy sounds just like Lou Reed.”  And he does.  Almost uncannily so on “It’s Only Life”.

But hey, get past that and you’ve got a really great jangly alterna-pop record from the late 80s.   While R.E.M. is sort of the master of the jangly pop song, there’s no real comparison here (okay, actually “Deep Fascination” could be mistaken for R.E.M. until the vocals kick in).  The biggest difference is tempo. The Feelies just kind of meander along at a calm and relaxed pace.  Not slow enough to be, god forbid, dull, but not exactly peppy either.

One thing I like about the band is that the bass and drums are always out in front.  The bass, in particular seems to really propel the songs (especially “Too Much”) which provides a great rhythmic feels and allows the guitars ample room to roam.

And the guitars do roam.  There are two guitars and they share soloing duties.  This soloing bit is rather a departure for college radio bands in the late 80s.  So, it definitely set them apart (as did the fact that there are like 30 words in each song).

The gorgeously simple yet very compelling “Higher Ground” is certainly a high point for the disc.  As is their cover of the Velvet’s “What Goes On.”

When I was a DJ in college, I randomly selected “Away” to play during a show (the first Feelies song I’d heard).  Even after twenty-one years it’s still as fresh and interesting.  It’s also rather different from the rest of the album.  It’s uptempo for one thing.  But it also starts with a cool slow guitar opening.  The song builds faster and faster and has a great sing along chorus.   The drums also sound wonderfully abrasive.  It’s really a great song and a great introduction to an underappreciated band.

[READ: November 22, 2009] Intermere

Following hot on the heels of Symzonia, I received Intermere through Inter Library Loan.  Intermere is even shorter (at 150 pages)!

What I liked about the story is that it removes all pretense as to the setting up of and the getting to the inner earth location.  As the story opens, our narrator, Giles Anderton, is pretty much immediately in massive trouble.  The boat he is on is about to sink and he is soon plunged headlong into the ocean.  (What an exciting opening!)

When he wakes up a short time later, he is on an island and is warmly greeted by a group of very short but very beautiful (ie, very pale) people. (more…)

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