Some Kind of Salvation The Features
The Honorable Jesse Jarnow
Album Reviews Editor
You have to admit, boss – its been awhile since I violated the no personal messages thing that you laid on me, hasnt it? And I know you were really just kidding when you compared me to wait, let me look it up ah, here it is: Karl Childers from Sling Blade with a Downeast Maine accent. Ha. Sometimes you just kill me, boss.
So listen Ill make it quick. Ive been listening to the new album by The Features, Some Kind of Salvation, and I think I have a pretty good handle on everything except this one track Lions. You know how when something is almost there in your head, but you just cant grab ahold of it? Well, thats what this song is like: when I hear it, theres something I cant quite
Never mind maybe itll come to me if we talk about the rest of the album. You know, just about anything you read about this gang of Nashvillians these days is going to include a mention of the Kings of Leon, no doubt. While the Kings have definitely been strong supporters, The Features (who just played at Bonnaroo) are doing their own thing on Some Kind of Salvation. This is not your typical southern rock band, boss.
Hey, you know me: 14 years without a TV and counting. I mean, I cant tell you when the last time was that I watched a music video, okay? (Im talking real MTV-style music videos with nutty plotlines and movie-star cameos, not concert footage.) But when I hear some of these songs on Some Kind of Salvation, I start imagining these wild-ass videos in my head. Right off the bat, Whatever Gets You By whaps you across the chops like the no-holds-barred opener to some gonzo off-Broadway show. Slap on the Viking helmet, sheepskin vest, and $3 mirror shades its show time! (Part of the reason for this may be the distinctive vocal stylings of lead singer/guitarist Matt Pelham this guy can go from whispery falsetto to full-blown roar just like that, boss. Pretty good set of pipes on the lad.)
Or how about Temporary Blues, which (if enough people in the world get a chance to hear it) has the potential of becoming the call-to-arms of every poor soul stuck in a dead-end job in the food service industry. Yep I can see it all now: dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of em, goose-stepping and swirling in unison, scaling their paper hats in the air as they give Mickey Ds the finger. (Sort of a Street Fighting Man, except hes wondering if you want fries with that.)
When theyre not laying down the soundtracks to some yet-to-be-made videos, The Features are quite adept at channeling some pretty distinctive musical styles while retaining their own sound. For instance, we have a couple completely Wilcoish moments one from the Jay Bennett era (The Gates Of Hell, whose gentle 3/4-time pledge of devotion eventually evolves into the sort of organic chaos found on Being Theres Misunderstood) and one from the Nels Cline-propelled version (Foundations Cracked, with its stark piano, heartbeat drumming, and just-right injections of twisted guitar skwonks). Or whats this The Fabulous Thunderbirds? Intentional or not, Wooden Hearts driving beat, horns, and Jimmie Vaughan-style rhythm guitar wouldnt be out of place at Antones on a Saturday night. Heck, if you listen just right, you can hear echoes of The Alarm on the bonus track Now You Know. Seriously these guys are like that.
WAIT I GOT IT! Dexys Midnight Runners! Thats it Lions sounds like Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners ha! There we go, boss: mid-80s British pop/soul at its finest check it out. (YouTube-it or something.) You take all those high-pitched male voices stacked up there, ock-ocking like dolphins against that herky-jerky-clap-your-hands-on-the-one-and-the-three rhythm and you tell me: vintage Dexy, or what?
Anyhow, what you got here is an album loaded with hooks and catchy little numbers. Some may sound like old friends right out of the box, while others will break new ground in your head. For best enjoyment, just consider Some Kind of Salvation a fun listen, pure and simple. (Need a label? Hows about punky folkie power pop?)
Thats all I wanted, Jesse. Now that Ive cracked the case, Im beat. Im going to go lay down after I have me some biscuits with mustard. Ha. Just foolin, boss a little Karl Childers humor there. (I know you didnt mean it.)
Your humble servant,