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The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms, The Good Earth

The Feelies: Crazy Rhythms, The Good Earth

Label:Bar None
Release Date:2009
Genre:Indie Rock

By Lee Gardner | Posted 9/23/2009

The Feelies

Bar None

Got the remasters yet? Not those, these. Admittedly, the Feelies are a mere footnote compared to the Fab Four, but they did enervate the postpunk '80s with their jittery, deadpan version of guitar pop. A listen to the band's first two albums, newly revamped and reissued for the first time in nearly 20 years, finds them sounding remarkably fresh.

1980's Crazy Rhythms, in particular, sounds like it could have come out on Matador last week and landed smack at the top of Pitchfork's Best New Music list. (The reissue made it anyway.) Glenn Mercer and Bill Million's clipped, frenetic strumming drives the music forward, but it's those title rhythms, conveyed via Anton Fier's drum kit and overdubbed hand percussion from the rest of the band, that help lend urgency to Mercer's nasal odes to suburban dread (the recoiling "Loveless Love") and cautious enthusiasm (the title track). A Beatles cover here is telling: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)," both scolding and cowbell-crazed. The album's long, slow percussive builds and buttoned-down rave-ups remain sui generis still.

If Crazy Rhythms is the sound of black coffee, 1986's The Good Earth reflects a more cannabic tone. The band's percussive punch had been beefed up by adding full-time percussionist Dave Weckerman alongside new drummer Stan Demeski, but Mercer and Million downstroke more languidly, and the former's vocals duck frenzied yelping for mid-range sonority, even amid the crazy rhythms of "The Last Roundup." This is prime campfire pop, autumnal and glimmering, less radical than its predecessor, but more easygoing. While the band revisits long, slow build/rave-up mode for "Slipping (Into Something)," a quasi-coital epic and the album's peak in all sorts of ways, The Good Earth's overall emollient hum-and-strum reaffirms that getting there is sometimes better than arriving.

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