You have to like a band that starts out a song with the line, “Does anybody have some extra air miles?”
Every band in the world is going to save rock music, just ask them. Felsen, however, may actually have a chance. The Bay Area band’s fourth album, “I Don’t Know How To Talk Anymore”, is scheduled for release in September and as they have on their prior recordings, Felsen breaks the rules without calling attention to the fact that they’re doing it. They’re not out to stick it to The Man per se; rather, they want to inspire The Man change his ways.
The Man could be the idea that rock’n’roll is dead, or perhaps the changes in the world, the music business and societal tastes that have made many people think that rock’n’roll is dead. Felsen has positioned themselves as the underdog, trying to break the musical world out of its slump. They achieve this by making a record that, based on the laws of music as we accept them, should not exist. There are songs that have both modern and classic influences (“Better Thoughts” is presented both in a Radiohead-type ambient pop arrangement and as a chamber rock ballad); tracks with hooks (if you don’t like getting songs stuck in your head, you might want to skip “Tokyo Electric”) but also have multi-layered sonic textures and unpredictable chord progressions that stand up to repeated plays; witty, original takes on subjects that seem to have already run their course such as pill addiction, technology-enabled antisocial behavior and internet scams involving banks in Sierra Leone.
Will Felsen succeed in their quest to save rock’n’roll? Hopefully; in the span of a few short years they have already recorded four albums and toured nationally. It won’t be an easy road for them; it’s not an easy road for any band. They’re putting one foot in front of the other, paying their dues just as the Beatles and Stones (sidebar: “Gimme Shelter for the Devil” cleverly combines themes from those two classics in a Jayhawks-style country rock ballad) did before them. They are a band that deserves your support. Give them a listen; keep an eye out for them at a club near you. And if you have any to spare, see if you can throw some extra air miles their way.