Positive Music Place

Archive for August, 2017

CD Review: Felsen, “Blood Orange Moon”

Posted by dlockeretz on August 22, 2017

18595495_10154807311078983_6365195700493241438_o-1

In the Year of the Fidget Spinner, it’s a bold move for an inde rocker to release a slow and ambient record that requires repeated listenings. Slow and ambient is nothing new for Andrew Griffin and Felsen, whose prior output has shown the influence of Dylan, Wilco and the moodier sides of the Beatles and U2. However, the Oakland-based band’s sound is also defined by uptempo pop tunes that seamlessly fuse unpredictable chord progressions and idiosyncratic lyrics with mercilessly catchy hooks. Thus, longtime Felsen followers may be surprised that their new record (their fifth overall and first since 2013’s “I Don’t Know How To Talk Anymore”) at least on the surface, stays in the lower gears.

“Blood Orange Moon”, due for release in November on Mystery Lawn Records, offers  stealth variety; on the second and third times through these songs, subtle and not so subtle differences become obvious. The singer/songwriter finds himself by turns mourning a lost relationship (“You and I Will Meet Again”), seeking a deeper one (“Telepathic Kind”), in a dreamlike zone (“Airplane Mode”; “Private Airline”) and in a state of peaceful nostalgia (“Blood Orange Moon.”) “Unemployed in Chicago” and “Poor in a Wealthy City” delve into the socio-economic, but in both cases Griffin opts for personal narrative instead of strident commentary. Felsen’s trademark humor can still be found, too: the protagonist of “White Denim Jeans” (a self-described “Angel investor on SSI”) finds himself eating Creme Brulee in a hot tub installed by his “pot head electrician, Wernher von Braun” (a reference to the German scientist widely believed to be the inspiration for Dr. Strangelove.) Quirkiness even finds it way into the otherwise romantic “Blood Orange Moon”: “I’ll go home and type you a bold manifesto/where metaphors and adjectives freely flow.”

Musically, while the songs may occupy the same general area of the metronome dial, there is diversity as well. For their similar subject matter, “Wealthy City” and “Chicago” take different approaches, the former following a more conventional pop-rock ballad mold while the latter features a repeated chord progression that builds in volume and intensity, adding layers of instruments and effects a la Radiohead. While those looking for another “Heroin”, “BFF OMG” or “Tokyo Electric” will need to keep on looking, this record is ultimately nearly as infectious as its predecessors. After all, a hook is a hook, regardless of song tempo [see also: Jude, Hey].

Accompanying Griffin are a host of Felsen veterans including Justus Dobrin (synths), Joanne de Mars (cello) and Dara Ackerman (backup vocals). One new face is 10-year old Levi Griffin (triangle), officially ushering in the next generation of Felsen.

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »