Here Are the Facts You Requested — Felt
(Elevator Pop HAT2-007, 2003, CD)
Here Are the Facts You Requested — Testing Ground – Live in Spain 2004
((Not on label) no#, 2005, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-01-01
Somewhere back in the late 90s, after seeing them open for the Mike Keneally Band, we reviewed this San Jose band’s earlier release, Shocks and Struts, which proved them to be a talented and original “indie” oriented outfit with a fresh outlook and interesting sound. Six years and a couple studio releases later, Felt is a confident step forward, finding the band forging their own individual style, now more idiosyncratic than ever. The basic instrumentation features guitars, drums, electronics, bass, cello, and keyboards, with guests providing turntables, banjo, pedal steel, theremin, and trumpet. Vocals (both male and female) are sung by all band members and guests too, with different singers alternating the lead and harmony parts, track depending, in sort of a loosely synced Grateful Dead-ish sort of style. The varied voices end up giving the material added variety, as the quartet plies their quirky melodic and lyrical vision and eclectic stylistic tendencies, which seemingly draw influence from just about anything and everything within reach. There are no spotlight hogs in the band; everybody pretty much does their part to support the overall effort, giving the material a very even-handed approach.
While this writer can recommend Felt without reservation, the same cannot be said for the bootleggy Testing Ground; the band plays a respectable set, drawing from Shocks and Struts, Felt, and perhaps some newer songs as well, though the shabby sound quality makes the disc nearly intolerable. Stick with Felt and you can’t go wrong.
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