The Felice Brothers

The Felice Brothers

Yellowbirds, Mail the Horse

Mon, December 31, 2012

Doors: 8:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$40

Sold Out

This event is 21 and over

The Felice Brothers
The Felice Brothers
The Felice Brothers kicked off in 2006. They did what any delinquent youths, lost in upstate New York with dim job prospects would do: become obsessed with traveling the world and playing extremely loud rock and roll. After settling on minor matters like who plays what (Ian Felice- vocals/guitar, James Felice- accordion/keys/vocals, Greg Farley- fiddle/vocals, Josh Rawson- bass/vocals. Recent addition David Estabrook- old friend/new drummer – completes the current line up), the band procured instruments, cans of sardines and packed up tents and devoted their lives to studying the art of song craft, from Hoagie Carmichael to Kurt Cobain. They also began figuring out how to actually play those instruments. It was a long way to the top.

The Felice Brothers name is a reference to James and Ian Felice’s provenance. They were two of seven children born to a family in upstate NY. They started young, playing under old bridges, back yard BBQs, small town sidewalks, and it’s in that spirit that eventually took their act to NYC, busking the subway platforms where they made a couple new friends and a whole lot of enemies with the MTA and New York’s Finest. Without day jobs or steady places to sleep the boys completely immersed themselves in their new line of work. They spent their days writing hundreds of songs in an old chicken coop, their nights hustling weekly gigs at any restaurant or bar that would feed them.

After a few years their devotion and extreme lifestyle choices paid off. The band has been traveling the world for 8 years now, playing major festivals like Coachella to Midwestern dive bars to ancient churches in Bavarian Germany. They are known for their wild and intense live shows that channel some kind of Lynchian Replacements fever dream. Their sincere, intelligent song writing always the backbone of their live interpretations.

Oddly enough, The Felice Brothers’ new album Favorite Waitress marked the first time the band ever recorded in a proper studio. Produced by the band’s longtime producer and collaborator Jeremy Backofen, the album is their most fully realized statement yet. After diligently working for a year, mining through a hundred songs worth of material, they took off last December for Omaha and knocked the whole thing out in a week. During the year of pre-production the band transformed into the most disciplined assembly line in the music game: Brill building meets halfway home. Focusing on playing together in a room, the band was all muscle, a study on five piece minimalism, able to power through scum bucket linoleum floor blues and turn on a dime into mysterious and lush dreamscapes. They were a classic car glimpsed in a chrome dream, sleek and transparent blazing through the night sky. Or some might say they became your favorite waitress, a comforting face calling you by your name knowing exactly what you need and laughing at all your jokes. Getting you through another rainy day. They built their vast world of sound and now they are simply driving through it.

Favorite Waitress is about fantastic escape from the terrifying realities of modern life. First single “Cherry Licorice” is an ode to never growing up, retreating from a domestic nightmare into a world of soda pop rivers and candy corn comas. “Meadow Of A Dream” feels like that perfect summer day in the woods lost in some primitive western shoot out with the neighborhood gang, when you wish you would never hear any parent cry for supper. “Saturday Night” describes the mythical properties of that magical time of the week when anything can happen, searching through the smoke and shit talk with a couple bucks in your pocket and a head full of teeth that could use loosening.

Favorite Waitress is The Felice Brothers’ 5th official release (in addition to 6 mix-tapes) and marks their first release for new label Dualtone (The Lumineers, Shovels & Rope, Guy Clark). These 11 total releases range from the backwoods kitchen sink folk of God Bless You, Amigo, to the swamp strip-mall Space Odyssey of Celebration, Florida. The band has appeared at Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, and Coachella and toured with the Killers, Mumford and Sons, and Bright Eyes.
Yellowbirds
Yellowbirds
Songs from the Vanished Frontier, the second album from New York’s Yellowbirds, includes love songs and breakup songs, happy numbers and sad numbers, tunes about not believing in the truth and, alternately, tunes about delivering it. There’s bracing rock ’n’ roll and bubbling folk, drifting jangle and swiveling R&B. But the thread that unites these nine instantly affecting songs is their search to find the signal amid the noise—that is, to understand the world and its whirlwind and to deliver just a little bit of clarity every three or four minutes. “What have I believed in?” Sam Cohen sings toward the end of the title track, his voice a near-murmur that peeks out from beneath the ashes of a smoldering empire. “How will I deceive me now?”

That quest for answers and assurance suits Cohen’s backstory: After the 2009 end of his longtime vehicle for wild, radiant anthems and experiments, Apollo Sunshine, Cohen thought his musical career might be over. But a clutch of songs he wrote in his bedroom soon found currency with a few New York musicians, and they started developing and playing them under the name Yellowbirds. The band’s 2011 debut, The Color, received favorable reviews, with Pitchfork Media noting that the record espoused “an endearing raggedness … as though Cohen invited you into his living room.”

Vanished Frontier hinges on the same intimacy, but you’d never mistake it for a living room project. Indeed, for the first time, Cohen and his now full-time band (drummer Brian Kantor, singer/bassist Annie Nero, her husband and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman) had their own studio in which to build the new songs and sounds.
“I knew the sonic possibilities were broader than ever before, so I made a point to write the entire album on an acoustic guitar before delving into recording,” says Cohen. “I wanted to believe in the songs in their rawest form.”

Again, he wanted to keep the signal clear from the noise, and that’s precisely what Vanished Frontier achieves. It’s not a fussy album, overpopulated by a load of special guests and strange accessories. And Cohen’s brilliant guitar playing is never flashy so much as it is functional, sending simple lines through a web of carefully chosen effects to help illustrate the stories he sings. On “Vanished Frontier,” for instance, the arid guitar seems to be shaking its world-weary head every time Cohen uncovers another lie; during the lovelorn equivocation of “Mean Maybe,” the six-string solo warps the blues into a pattern that’s as fractured as Cohen’s feelings.

That’s not to say, of course, that these songs are spare or stripped in any way. This is still Sam Cohen, of course, draping and dressing these tunes with spectral harmonies and backmasked voices, decorative percussion and interwoven textures. It’s just that these songs now stand on their own and then glow in the presence of the band and the studio. In the end, then, the noise supports the signal.
Mail the Horse
Mail the Horse
Mail the Horse is grunge gospel/country rock music that comes from a basement in Brooklyn, NY. With inter-weaving melodies, a delicate balance of back-beat soul and freak out improvisation, and the ability to bring a song from subtle beginnings to understated rock n’ roll overdrive, Mail the Horse packs a punch of equal parts love and hate; companionship and betrayal. Their new 12” LP, Great Kills, plays like a collection of love songs to the failure of love, and while there is little love on this record there is plenty of proof that it exists. Sonically the band has one foot grounded in the tradition of master craftsmen like Bob and Bruce, but this is clearly a band that listens and understands that great rock music is always changing. Great Kills is sturdy, reliable rock and roll that still demands you to listen to better music than your parents did.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002
http://mercuryloungenyc.com