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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 181 - 06/15/11

The Feelies
Here Before
Bar/None Records

Old and long time heroes the Feelies re-appear with a brand new album, 19 (!) years after the last one, 1991's Time For A Witness (A&M). In 1992 the band disbanded, but a 2008 reunion must've been joyous and fruitful, and here's 13 new songs. The Feelies' 5th. In a fair and perfect world it would've been as popular as Beethoven's. Not that it's their best, but the Feelies deserve all the world's possible attention.

Haledon, NJ's finest are most welcome back from their long, uh...break. Well, they're a band working long-term; 5 albums since their formation in 1976, right. The debut album, Crazy Rhythms (Stiff 1980, re-issued by Bar/None in 2009), is a masterwork, a true classic. Minimalist-rock turned into a monolith. The following albums, The Good Earth (Coyote/TwinTone/Rough Trade 1986, re-issued as well by Bar/None in 2009) and Only Life (A&M 1988) are almost as good, and must-haves. So, what about Here Before, then? My first feeling is a warm breeze of nostalgia. This is signature Feelie-pop, with archetypal Feelies' song structures. Of course here are shimmering, colorful Feelie-guitars all over. Not to forget the dry, laidback Feelie-vocals. The 2008 re-union, as well as the All Tomorrow's Parties 2009 show (in their 'Don't Look Now' series) presented Crazy Rhythms live in its entirety, brought the creative force between Bill Million (for years based in Florida) and Glenn Mercer back to life, or to the surface. They started to write new songs, and the result is very good. Here Before is a fine album. Maybe the third best Feelies album, if you're into ranking. Besides Mercer (vocals, rhythm/lead guitar) and Million (vocals and guitar), the album features 'the old gang' (the team from 1983-84 till now): Brenda Sauter (bass, vocals), Stanley Demeski (drums), and Dave Weckerman (percussion).

Opener "Nobody Knows" sets the standard right away, like steppping out of a time capscule bringing us back to Feeliestan anno 1986. Jangly guitars, chilled vocals, snappy solos, percussive spices. "Should Be Gone" follows, with a most delicate guitar solo. Short and to the pint, with a sound making your skin curl. Ace! "Again Today" also presents an impressive melody, with that delicate sound, and most elegant arrangemts. The simpler, the better. Ah, those guitars, those solos... Other songs have got a bit more rock drive, but I'd say I prefer the 'calmer' songs. Another neat guitar solo appears on the more tip-toe "Way Down". Where do they pick'em? The slower "Morning Comes" follows, being one of the finest (and quietest) songs of the album, along with the title track. The more rocking "Time Is Right" is somewhat quite cool, with a driving bass and an elevated guitar scale trip. "On and On" is another light-footed, Velvet Underground-styled song, before the calm and pleasing closure, "So Far". Dreamy, dazed, bittersweet pop music to the point.

Here Before for sure is highly recommended, even though there are a couple of fillers. But, that's maybe a bit harsh. And - mind you - it's mandatory to check out, and obtain, their back catalogue. The Feelies is curriculum if you're into the new waves (old and/or new) of indie rock. Hey, Feelies, it's good to have you back!

Come to think of it, we had the band Versus to fill the void through some of the years in the Feelies' absence. Well, Luna as well, with Stanley Demeski on drums. But that's another story. Two stories, in fact.

Copyright © 2011 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Feelies articles/reviews: Crazy Rhythms, Live at Helsinki Hudson (Hudson, NY) and at The Bell House (Brooklyn, NY), May 17 & 18, 2013, Only Life + Time for a Witness.

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