Music

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Reviewed this week: The Feelies, The Melvins, and Iceage

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Feelies

Here Before

(Bar None)

Here Before offers such confident songcraft and effortless chemistry that it's hard to believe this is The Feelies' first album in 20 years. The reunited indie rock legends have created a set of tunes recalling the pastoral, Velvet Underground-inspired folk-pop of their 1986 The Good Earth. Highlights include the sunny harmony-drenched "When You Know," slow motion bliss-out "Morning Comes," and buzzing "When You Know," with layers of burbling static. The churning "Time Is Right" proves they can still rock and evokes 1991's blistering Time for a Witness. The album's lyrics repeat phrases like "do it again," "later on," and "start again," stringing them through the songs like Zen koans. For a record that's obsessed with time, it's appropriate these gentle jangly and droning tunes grow in stature with repeated listens, the textures and tunes deepening until they begin to sound inevitable. —Jeff Jackson

The Melvins

Sugar Daddy Live

(Ipecac)

Combine the punk and metal riffage of "Led Sabbath" and Black Flag with the trippy sensibilities of the Mothers of Invention and you get The Melvins. Formed in 1983 and hailed as the "Godfathers of Grunge," the band is named after a Thriftway supervisor in coastal Washington State, making that claim seem pretty legit. This live album gave me flashbacks of seeing them at a club called The Mean Fiddler in London in 2001, where it was my guilty American pleasure to watch hundreds of Brits eat up the Yankee sludge like salty petroleum candy. Sugar Daddy Live was recorded at Busta-Guts Club in Downey, Calif., and is full of demonic power and ghostly psychedelia (it sounds like an empty hall—you can only hear a crowd at the end). Conclusion: Sublimely incorruptible and worth 10 Mastodons, no matter that band's hype. —Tom Sturm

Iceage

New Brigade

(What's Your Rupture)

Aggressive but accessible, harsh and stripped down but melodic, the music of the four Danish teens who make up Iceage is straight-up, honest, listenable punk. This is the band's debut album, and New Brigade has a no-frills sound—aggressive, fast, and surprisingly melodic beneath some of the raw, noisy playing. The vocals are quiet, almost muted, but the lyrics are intense, all about anger and independence. Short and fast moving, the album never bores. Despite the age of the band members, none of whom is older than 19, the album is musically mature, hinting at great promise for a band just getting started. —Josh Ernst

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