The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress
The Felice Brothers are the kings of The Catskills. The princes of Poughkeepsie. The aldermen of Albany. The masters of a raspy but lilting, and sometimes lyrically disturbing, upstate New York Americana. All of which made their previous album, Celebration, Florida, sound so displaced. Having hit the dance floors of the Sunshine State, they turned on the techno and pumped up the volume. Funny thing is, it almost worked. Sure, grafting one sound onto another meant that sometimes it was a mess, but other times it sounded new and more than a little refreshing. Raspy but lilting, plus funky too. But maybe the experiment was all a little bit too much, because on their new album, Favorite Waitress, the Miami sound machine has fallen off the charts. This is a more traditional Felice Brothers album. The beatbox is banned and the beards are back. ‘Bird On Broken Wing’ opens the album safely and gently. ‘Hawthorne’ dips into the disturbing old lyric bag and plucks out a little political commentary too. And yet, this isn’t simply a return to the status quo ante. It’s not just One More Night At The Arizona. The band is still trying to push the sound forward. ‘Constituents’ could have been a standard Felice Brothers cut, but this time it’s backed by a classical organ and it turns out really well. And there are more up tempo songs on this album than on most previous outings. ‘Cherry Licorice’ is worth a campfire sing-along, though the thrashy folk of ‘Katie Cruel’ sounds too close to the Mumfords for comfort, and ‘Woman Next Door’ is just a noisy mess. The Felice Brothers are wily old critters. They know they’re easy to pigeonhole and so they’re keen to keep things fresh. That’s a good quality and more than reason enough to stick with them on their musical travels.