Feel It Records

The Feelies – Crazy Rhythms

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  • Regular price $20.00

Like a drop of water shattering the still surface of a pond, the Feelies’ first album starts with the ringing sound of rosewood claves: click, click. Then silence, until again—click, click—this time higher in pitch and richer in reverb. The scattered drops turn into a gentle rain as a needlelike electric guitar repeats a two-note pattern. The song picks up speed, building in intensity; a second guitar echoes the first, and an insistent bass drum charts the pulse. The guitars combine to form a chord, but there’s no relief in the melody, and some raspy sand blocks add a sharp counter-rhythm that cues the uneasy vocals.

“There’s a boy I know but not too well/He hasn’t got a lot to say/Well, this boy lives right next door and he/Has nothing to say.”

Without ever visiting Haledon, New Jersey, a quiet, hilly suburb of blue-collar Paterson, you know the place the Feelies are singing about—chipped white paint on the shingles, slightly overgrown lawns, tree-lined streets filled with mounds of Autumn leaves—just as the memorable album cover is evocative of the corner table in every high school lunch room in America, the one populated by those introverted members of the chess club and brainy winners of the science fair.

The Feelies don’t romanticize the life of the suburban nerd on Crazy Rhythms any more than they feel stifled or defined by it. It’s just part of who they are, though they’re also into bigger/better things: the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Brian Eno’s “pop” albums, the Beatles of Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour, the sound of Robert Fripp’s guitar on David Bowie’s “Heroes,” and above all that signature tom-tom-heavy kinetic drum beat, descended from the polyrhythms of ancient Africa by way of Bo Diddley via Maureen Tucker, sped up and turned inside-out so the backbeat sucks you in like a powerful undertow rather than propelling you forward in the traditional rock-roll manner.

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