Perfect Sound Forever
Drums Along the Hudson


by Todd Levin (April 1996)

i marched in life with the feelies. i fell in love with girls to the feelies. i even danced without restraint to the feelies. i've got a lot to say about the feelies but i'll only say a little.

the first time i ever put my ears to "the boy with perpetual nervousness", i developed a facial tick. the feelies sounded like electric football, shaking around, extremely controlled but with largely unpredictable results. the band built so high that by the end of a song it sounded like the record had actually picked up speed on the turntable. this was music for boys who would like to bang their heads against high school gym lockers but knew better.

CRAZY RHYTHMS was rock that built up like a teenage boy jerking off hastily lest his folks come home early from the company picnic. with songs like "loveless love", this album was revelation perched on top of a shaky structure of insane drumbeats, favoring television and sticking one's head in the dirt and wild affectations over the responsibilities of feelings. the feelies had stumbled upon their older brother's albums; they dug them but their response was generally the same: too fucking slow. keep the music but play it at 78 until it wants to snap like the waistband on your fruit of a looms. no time for the counter cultural but thoughtfully-paced beatles and stones. this was tv dinners. this was jiffy pop.

partly because of CRAZY RHYTHMS and partly because of ONLY LIFE (and not really because of THE GOOD EARTH, though i will meet that album when i completely surrender to adulthood), i held the feelies so tightly i thought it would burst. it made me so shallow that i would fall for anyone who had fallen for the music. but who cares, right? with a band like this kindred spirits were so rare that you knew they had been "touched" somehow. i met a girl who picked up two drumsticks (couldn't afford the whole drum kit) specifically because of the feelies. i used to listen to through the ceiling beating out the sticks on the floor of her dorm along with the fire-paced layered percussion of "fa ce la" and fall more deeply between the folds each night (a woman who wanted to drum like the feelies and think like elvis costello--i suppose this was more than i deserved).

the feelies had no image. everything was third party (this included). perhaps that's why they always opted to feature their sort of dumpy portraits on all of their cover art. they weren't going to give you anything to go on. write your own damn review.

the feelies were the greatest cover band in the world.

the feelies said nothing between songs because there was nothing to say.

the feelies would have made the ideal wedding band.

the feelies had a drummer named stanley and a singer named Glenn. no fashion, no style, no makeup and a couple of beat-to-shit amps that couldn't possibly hold this kind of anxious noise.

since their demise, i have tried to pick up the damn pieces, struggling to find the goodness in Speed the Plough (which ultimately scare me a little the way the new age sections of cool book stores scare me), clutching at straws with both wake oo loo albums (which have the energy minus the momentum), and have settled comfortably into Luna (who wouldn't?). but, over and over, the parts never equal the whole. and it is during these times that i explode for 2 minutes of "sooner or later" or subside and slip into something. and repeat the mantra over and over again, given by their rightful parents as "it's all right" and modified with even greater simplicity: "it's only life."

Check out our interview with Glenn Mercer and Dave Wackemann (ex-Feelies, now with Wake Ooloo).