Now what can I say other than that I am a capital R Romantic about things like childhoods and the holidays? Oh, The Felice Brothers, you wonderful band that infuses traditional folk, Bob Dylan-esque vocals, and profound lyrics; how you itch that wonderful scratch somewhere between nostalgia tinged with sadness and a hopeful future with a comedic twist! Jazz on the Autobahn talks about the fall of humanity but in a wonderfully upbeat Jazz melody in the form of a road trip song. Valium is about a man tripping in a motel room on the border of Colorado and Utah. It’s all very whimsical and absurdist until you realize that he is alone and talking about “the national consciousness.” Even Love Me Tenderly is a very Goodfellas themed song about a gangster gambling and beating up men who owe them, until they sing about a woman who has left them.
Christmas ham, Bing Crosby singing “Winter Wonderland”, corn cob pipes, strong eggnog, snowmen, and sleigh rides are all hallmarks of one of their older albums, “Felice Navidad”.(Get it? It’s a wonderful play on words. It’s for us, intellectuals.) The album talks about spending time with your family and having a lovely holiday surrounding the chestnuts over the roaring fire. It is a wonderfully wholesome holiday album about family, friends, and even Grandpa Felice. The speaker is grateful for Christmas and the gifts of the world. It is only a short five songs and could easily be a soundtrack to a movie (or at least a short indie GoFundMe film.)
It’s got fiddles, guitars, and maybe even a banjo if you imagine hard enough and were a good person this year. The final song is dance hall, double timed, and sounds like a warm barn dance that personally I don’t think any of us have experienced but can imagine in great depth. This album is wonderfully wholesome for the most part and even comes with a streak of sadness that I think all of us get in the winter. Lyrics like, “I’m lonesome with nowhere to be.” and “It’s getting hard to pretend that the new Great Depression will end” alongside talking about not making scenes, giving bad toasts, and angels being misty eyed encapsulates the season so well in my humble opinion as it doesn’t skirt all of the little hiccups of the year.
Ultimately, it is a great album that is so charming and feels like Hometown, U.S.A. with just enough cynicism to keep the more cold of us entertained. It is also worth noting on The Felice Brothers’ website that they claim “All profits benefit the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. Help keep food on the table for everyone this holiday season by buying our new EP, or making a donation to a food bank near you.”
My heart has grown three times this December!
Daniel Wartham is a current grad student and spends his free time watching movies and taking walks to Waffle House at 2am. He can be found on Twitter at @DanielWartham.