What? Taking cues from their larger-than-life Americana predecessors, namely Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, the Felice Brothers specialize in boozy, rambling tales of backwoods nostalgia told in rootsy piano, guitar, and drum renderings. Tunes like “Frankie’s Gun” and “Greatest Show on Earth,” both off the band’s self-titled Team Love debut, are uplifting and energizing, loaded with horns and accordion, but the Brothers’ sound can be equally depressing on dark, sparse tracks like “Saint Stephen’s End” and the album opener “Little Ann.”
Who? Brothers James, Ian and Simone Felice got their start playing Sunday afternoon jams at their father’s house in rural upstate New York. After enlisting a longtime friend known as Christmas to play bass, the outfit self-recorded their rough and tumble debut Through These Reigns and Gone in a chicken coop and hit the road, ending up in New York City playing street corners and subway stations for change.
Soon championed by a well-connected freelance writer, the Brothers landed a spot opening stateside for Bright Eyes and secured a deal with Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records. Washboard and fiddle player Farley joined the band in fall ’07, rounding out the quintet whose official self-titled debut hit stores in March.
Fun Fact: Once the Felice Brothers decided to turn their weekend jams into an official band, the members quit their day jobs and purchased a decrepit special education bus (a.k.a “short bus”), which served as the boys’ transportation and — at times — their home during nearly two years of touring.
Now Hear This: “Frankie’s Gun!” (DOWNLOAD MP3)
More on SPIN.com:
Felice Brothers Incite Denver Hoedown