The Felice Brothers have been listening to too much of Bob Dylan’s country-inspired records. The Brothers’ music shares that same “shaggy dog” quality with drunken instrumentation and croaking vocals that suggest a do-it-yourself quality, like you made that guitar out of a cigar box and the warped fiddle sounds just as good as any, if not better because of its weird-ass tonal qualities. The lyrics have an off-the-cuff sensibility as if spouted from the subconscious to fit the beat and the mood. This sounds good in the abstract, but the Brothers aren’t Dylan: “Diamond Bell” is no “Romance in Durango, etc. The music may generate excitement live, but the off-key notes, broken melodies, and strained vocals seem more affected than effective.
The first and last songs are the best. “Aerosol Ball” is a Dada-esque litany of the absurd to a Cajun rhythm that makes the crazy words (“The rain in Maine / Is made of Novocaine… / Minnesota / Is made of baking soda”) fun wordplay. The final track, “Sell the House”, is the most serious one and suggests the band might be better working in that direction. While the song breaks down in the middle to mirror the narrator’s state of mind, the song is framed by nice acoustic set pieces. And yes there is a bonus cut about being chained to the earth, but meh.