Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I’ve just listened to the Felice Brothers‘ new record with appeared in the post this morning. The first reason for pointing out that it is rather spiffing is the inclusion of ‘live’ lightning on track 3. Apparently the studio was struck during the session for ‘Hey Hey Revolver‘ and they liked it so much they left it in. I don’t imagine Sir Thumbs-Aloft has that on his newie, although I have to confess that what I heard of it in Starbucks earlier was quite, well, pleasant. It didn’t help that a couple, clearly in the early flush of romantic endeavour, were exchanging saliva in such a fashion that it brought to mind the way snakes dislocate their jaws in order to swallow their prey. Where was I? Oh yes, a rare visit to Starbucks. It’s on constant repeat there as it’s on their own record label. It would seem that the price of their instore CDs are on the grande side too. Anyway, it sounded ok.
Right then, back to the Felice Brothers, who sound really rather like Dylan. In fact, more like Dylan than Dylan often does these days. Charming in a Bob and The Band kind of way, with some quite beautifully yearning steel guitar and the slightly fragmented vocals that tell of experiences long remembered. It’s a delight from start to finish, although some of that pleasure comes from the soundalike quality of the performance. It got me thinking – how accepting am I of music that sounds like other music I like? Is it simply a stepping stone from one CD I like to another one I’ll probably enjoy or do I need to have a clear distinction between ‘similar to’ and ‘inspired by’? Too many of the current ‘The’ indie groups have plenty in common with my Britpop heroes, and thus I can’t find a great deal to enjoy in them, and yet at the time I was awestruck by the mid 90s music scene I didn’t have the same reaction to these shameless bands plagiarising all the had gone before.
I guess it’s a little like literary theory. Each person will have their own, unique spin on many things in life as a result of their own, unique experiences. Thus, with music, every circumstance that has led to the record collection alongside you now will inform every judgement you make about an album on its first play. It’s what makes music criticism such a peculiar field. On the one hand it’s invigorating, inspiring and enlightening. On the other, it’s frustrating, fickle and phenomenally controversial. What tops it all of is the fact the by the forth play of an album your opinion may have nothing at all with what you thought first time around. I’ll let you know how the Felice Brothers fare this time next week.

Tonight at the Arizona‘ is out Monday on Loose Records.

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