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2011 album from the New York-based Alt-Rock band made up of two brothers and three longtime friends. Celebration, Florida is an exhilarating amalgamation of frightening horn sections, unexpected 808s, ambient synth lines, schoolyard taunts, booming, primitive drum beats, heavy bass lines, piano, violin, accordion, ringing guitars, rave beats, and sinister acid jazz that captivates and mystifies. Recorded in the library and theater of Beacon, NYs old high school, the band explores a multitude of sounds and instrumentation throughout the expansive album. Its inspired, imaginative, heady, menacing, passionate, and rollicking. Most importantly, it's as steadfastly authentic as ever, expanding upon the dark, woozy undercurrent of ramshackle barroom blues, vaudevillian atmospherics, and surreal storytelling of their previous albums.
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My concern with this album is that there is a change in the sentiment, in so far as pouring scorn on some sections of the community that don't see things quite the way that we do. Okay, maybe some people are shallow and superficial, but I don't necessarily think it is endearing to point it out and ridicule. There is an edge of aggressiveness here that isn't attractive, even though it may not be entirely unwarranted.
I'm not sure cynicism suits them. Just my personal view.
It is still a good album, but uncomfortable.
The album was produced by Jeremy Backofen, whose consistent and valuable presence as producer on the Brothers' previous CDS have made him a 6th Felice Brother of sorts.
The Felice's deservedly have a very dedicated fan base and those fans will be delighted with Celebration. But Celebration Florida is also for the new listener. Be forewarned: On Celebration, Florida, The Felice Brothers will entertain you with stories that will remind you the ones you used to cajole your favorite drunken uncle into telling when you were a kid, make you want to dance, make you laugh and break your heart - sometimes simultaneously. And Ian Felice and Christmas are two of the best and most original writers (of anything) in America today. (As is James Felice, although unfortunately Celebration doesn't include a Jimmy song)
Do yourself a favor and listen to it several times. Celebration, Florida is a gift - a gift to music lovers, and a gift to those who appreciate artists who are willing to sacrifice the gratification of immediate financial returns for the creation of a piece of work that stands alone.
It kicks off with `Fire at the pageant' which has a chorus of kids asking for the noise to stop, and a raucous feel that initially grabs you and then goes into a very introspective number with `Container Ship'. `Honda Civic' is a mix of old and new with a thumping bass line and horns and accordion and I kept thinking, whether it would work `live' or not.
Track 5 `Ponzi' has Simone back with them doing backing vocals as Ian does the majority of the singing here, and most of the time he oozes soul and regret in equal amounts. `Ponzi' is where a paradigm shift takes place as the synths kick in, there is a Visage `Fade to Gray' riff at one point. It is full of club beats and strange twists, but I could still see their fingerprints all over it. I actually said `wow!' the first time I heard it. `Back in the dancehalls is full of driving rhythm and has a fiddle backdrop, that really works.
There are no real barnstormers here or any `Frankie's Gun' type tales. These are deeper and darker; track 7 reminded me of `Ambulance Man' from `Yonder is the clock', with its laconic brooding. There is no lyric sheet, but as ever the vocals are so clear that you won't need them. There is harmony, melody, attitude and soul searching especially on the last track `River Jordan' which contains some strong language, but it very real and honest almost a confessional. After a number of listenings I still have not made my mind up and that is probably a good thing, I am going to stick with it and hope that it will grow and become a stayer.
If you are a traditionalist for Americana then you will most likely be disappointed, but if you want to see the next chapter in a developing musical career and approach with an open mind and heart, then this may find a home with you.
Most recent customer reviews
Following three great albums of robust Americana which saw the Felice Brothers pick up the mantle of the Band and develop it in new directions it was...Read more