Local Wire

The Felice Brothers

If pre-electric Bob Dylan knocked up the Carter family and the offspring that followed were the ringleaders of a band of rebel Irish immigrant poets who lived in the Catskills and survived on red wine and petty theft, then you might be getting close to summarizing the nearly indefinable Felice Brothers. This self-titled release is their first album to be distributed in brick-and-mortar retailers and serves as a testament to the glory of brotherly love and the power of songs that play irrelevant of time and space. No amount of polished production can strip the weathered charm of tarnish from the surface of these 15 ageless and haunting tracks. The true victory of the Felice Brothers is their ability to find the beauty in the vile — Ruby Mae who dances the Cabaret, Doris Day packing a .38, and line after line of woeful-yet-joyful prose like, "I left my blue-eyed lady to go with Tony Mercedes to the gambling ring/I lost my diamond watch, but in the parking lot, I took it back again." Especially noteworthy are the tracks "Frankie's Gun" (about a criminal partnership gone wrong), and "Don't Wake the Scarecrow," possibly the most touching song ever written about loving a hooker. So go on, share this album with friends over wine (drunk from the bottle, please — no cups) and don't ever call what you listen to "Americana" again.
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Matt Young