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The Good Earth

The Feelies

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Album Review

After the various side projects and explorations the band got up to for most of the early '80s, not to mention switching some members around (with bassist Sauter and drummer Demeski now forming the rhythm section), the Feelies made a fine return with The Good Earth. With co-production from noted fan Peter Buck, the group exchanged some of the understated tense frazzle of Crazy Rhythms for a gentler propulsion without losing its trancy edge. Compared to the wispy jangle rock that passed for much of college radio at the time, the Feelies proposed a different path with the songs' steady pace and murkier feeling. Demeski's a more than fine replacement for Fier (his martial playing on "Tomorrow Today" is one of his many entertaining touches), Sauter's playing emphasizes controlled understatement, and the Million/Mercer guitar duo still nails it. The brisker jauntiness of songs like "The Last Roundup," which wears just enough of a country & western edge without seeming like a parody or half-assed, varies the calmer moods elsewhere very well. At the album's considerable best, such as the brief but really lovely acoustic/electric blend of "When Company Comes" or the title track, with an almost epic ending, Million and Mercer sound like they inhabit the same body playing two guitars, everything's that much in lovely sync. Their vocals ride low in the mix this time out, but thankfully the sometimes all-too-obvious hints of Lou Reed in Mercer's style have been replaced with a more unique, stronger edge — not that the connection still isn't there on a track like the building groove of "Slipping (Into Something)." Reed would also love its concluding guitar solo! Perhaps the only criticism is a slight sameness between a few songs, but there's more sly variety on display to offset this gentle treasure. [The 2009 reissue of the album adds three bonus tracks available as digital downloads. These tracks are covers of the Beatles' "She Said, She Said"and Neil Young's "Sedan Delivery" plus a live version of "Slipping (Into Something)"]

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Hoboken, NJ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Of the countless bands to emerge from the New York City underground during the post-punk era, few if any were as unique and influential as the Feelies; nerdy, nervous, and noisy, even decades later their droning, skittering avant-garde pop remains a key touchstone of the American indie music scene. Named in reference to Aldous Huxley's paranoid classic Brave New World, the Feelies formed in 1976 in suburban Haledon, NJ, where singers/guitarists Bill Million and Glenn Mercer first met while in high...
Full bio

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