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"People Think About Who They Really Are In The Stillest Hour Of The Night"


There is a fucked up strange intensity in photos of Simone Felice that somehow reminds me of the Back from ‘Nam characters that populate the brilliant novels of Tim O’Brien [Read them if you like war stories: especially “If I die In A Combat Zone” although here I’m referencing “In the Lake Of The Woods”]. Maybe it’s to do with his near death moments or just his passion for the music he makes – who knows, and we aren’t analysts.  But that uneasy edge isn’t at all at odds with his music.

The two albums (and the excellent live album that’s available direct from his website) he has made  since the wonderful country-soul of his The Duke & The King Project are stripped back, intense singer songwriter affairs with strong echoes of Dylan and of country and gospel music. To me they feel a little like demos – song structures and outlines that other people might later populate and interpret and even have hits with. But in his hands they are almost too edgy.  In this way they are a little akin to the brilliant white soul Fame demos of Dan Penn which stayed as legend for decades until Ace Records finally persuaded him to release them.


I want to tell you this is high praise as you’ll find if you bother to explore Penn’s brilliant guide vocal takes on soul classics like “I’m Your Puppet”, “You Left the Water Running” and “It Tears Me Up”.

Anyway, I digress and to return to Felice, these albums – with their intense bus depot characters and their various pill habits – are stripped back and raw and great. And this is especially true of the new one “Strangers” which feels one step on from the piercing story songs of “Simone Felice” especially on songs like “Our Lady of the Gun” where the uncomfortable parallel between school shooters and Marines is elegantly drawn. I like Felice’s comment that:

“ we all seem to possess the need to lose ourselves from time to time by whichever vehicle: Love, pills, technology, booze, lust, music… pick your poison.”


It sums up his “thing”.

A lot of people make a lot of noise about how great Townes Van Zandt was, but of course they didn’t say it until he was already dead (RIP). I am not totally one of them as I find his rawness almost unbearably painful to listen too, amazing though it is – more poet, than singer. I just don’t enjoy listening to that much hurt and prefer it when others tackle his almost perfectly formed songs.  It’s a big call but I’m going to suggest Felice may be in a similar bracket so if your thing is raw Americana (and you already have the John Murray record ”The Graceless Age”) make sure you hear Simone’s new joint. Something good is happening there.

-TH

[nb. Molly-O (below) leads the album off in Dylanesque fashion. Its more jaunty than the rest. Still excellent so taste it, but not everything I’m talking about here.]


[nb2. Felice is a music lover too. I love his choices of favourite songs in a recent Uncut magazine and his description of THIS as “a great song by an evil band”! As he says “that perfect weird cosmic rock alignment where an unquestionably evil band .. and honest, gritty poetry collide”. Awesome. And we think he’s right btw.]



I grew up on a healthy diet of Country Music & 70’s Rock’n’Roll, which was pretty strange for a kid in Newcastle. Well, not so much the 70’s rock’n’roll part, but the Country part, definitely … I was too young to know, I just loved music! 

My first musical performance was in the primary school hall where I sang/yodelled Frank Ifield’s She Taught Me To Yodel in front of all my school mates … seriously …

I was waaaay too young to know!!! Ha!

My folks moved from Armidale to Newcastle in their early 20’s to find work and have a family, and they brought their record collection with them. 

Despite the strong country presence in the house my first favourite song was Walk Of Life by Dire Straits. I can remember doing the “walk of life”, whatever my interpretation was at the time, around the living room at full pelt as a young kid! I had the “action”, I had the “motion” and I loved singing at the top of my lungs “Oldies Goldies” and “Be-Bop-A-Lula”, my favourite lyrics, obviously …

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As the years progressed some of my fondest, and most vivid, music memories were weekend morning drives to the beach, in the ute, with music BLARING! 

The tape collection was limited, but they were all favourites from Garth Brooks: The Hits; Lee Kernaghan: Three Chain Road; Led Zeppelin IV; and a greatest hits record Mum and Dad had brought back from their trip to the USA, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: 20 Years Of Dirt. 

I didn’t know about genres back then but I loved the fast songs; Ain’t Goin’ Down Til The Sun Comes UpShe’s My UteBlack Dog (air guitar central), Rock’n’Roll (air drum central), High Horse … and I loved the slower ones too; Unanswered PrayersStairway To HeavenStand A Little Rain … 

Oh yeah, and my dad had a serious obsession with Rodriguez: Cold Fact, in particular the song I WonderMy first job was in a record store and my first mission from dad was to order this album on CD!

I remember when we got a CD player. That was cool. The music sounded better and you didn’t have to rewind and fast-forward to find tracks!! It also meant that a new collection started to form from which I discovered Jim Croce: Photographs and Memories; Sam Cooke: Wonderful World; Fleetwood Mac: Rumours; and my doorway into a new musical universe, a Triple M Compilation called “Unleashed In The 70’s”.
 

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Unleashed In The 70’s was EPIC! The Angels, Lou Reed, Meatloaf, ZZ Top, Dylan, Sabbath, JJ Cale … and heaps more.  

I needed to play guitar. 

To convince my folks I would be “committed” to the instrument I had to teach myself for 3 months on an old nylon string my mum had in the back of her wardrobe. 

The first song I ever learned wasTake It Easy by The Eagles (from a chord book) and the first song I ever performed on guitar was The Vasectomy Song by John Williamson … again, seriously.  

From there I distanced myself from my parents record collection, going on to discover Metal, Rap and Punk music. I played in bands that played all these genres. I wrote tunes, we toured, we spent time in recording studios, we independently released EPs … 

Now, all these years later, I find myself releasing my first record! A record that both sonically and song wise can clearly be traced back to the very first influences in my musical memory, in the ute, on the way to the beach! 

So yeah, they f**cked me up good …



-Morgan Evans

If you’re keen to hear what all of this parental advising helped shape and create, Morgan’s self titled new album is out this week (March 14) and you can grab it HERE & HERE

Parents Know Best.

I was a happy kid, always laughing, always causing mischief and always playing music. Like most kids I was particularly good at doing what I wanted and disregarding anything that the adults would tell me, for my simple childhood mind had the crazy notion that anything old couldn’t possibly be cool - that went for my parents and music.

Blissfully I went through my early years listening to video hits, making my own mixed tapes and totally ignoring my parent’s record collection.

Years passed and at the age of 10 I was shocked as my parents let me buy my first album from a second hand record store.

That album was Guns N Roses Appetite For Destruction!

I was even more shocked when ‘the olds’ let me put it in the tape deck of the trusty family Torana for the drive home. The whole family rocked out to Slash’s sweet licks and Axl’s whaling vocals. There were swear words! LOTS OF SWEAR WORDS! My parents were not only letting me sing swear words, but they had encouraged the purchase. Maybe I’d been wrong about the folks after all.

From there I managed to devour the entire Guns N Roses catalogue, before I received my first CD player for Xmas. But what good is a CD player without a CD? To which my parents then handed over my very own copy of Pearl Jam Ten.

OK, I can hear you thinking, this kid is nuts, his parents are the coolest people alive, to which you would be correct, but I still was none the wiser.

So there I was, smashing up Guns N Roses, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden like it was nobody’s business. If it didn’t have a guitar I wasn’t interested. I’d fight for stereo airplay time with my parents and brother until at the age of 18 I left our tiny country home town and moved interstate to chase the bright lights of Sydney.

One of my favourite things to do was hit up the markets and eye off the wares of many a hippy and creative crafty folk. Among the fisherman pants, tie dyed t-shirts, knock off trucker caps and leather necklaces there was also a load of people selling old records. I noticed a few familiar album covers I’d eyed in my early years back in the lounge room of that small country home. Feeling the sting of homesickness inside me, I purchased a record for $1. Over the next few months I continued to find myself at the markets flicking through the records and picking out old familiar album covers and purchase them thinking of my parents as I did. 

Then came the next dilemma, what was I to do with these 20 or so records I’d picked up, I didn’t have anywhere to play them. I got my arse onto Ebay and payed way too much for an old beat up HMV record player (which I ended up having to fix myself), but once I finally got that old piece of crap working came the Coolest Accident of all…

My Parents had actually been listening to some of the most amazing music the whole time! (Check the pics above)

Bret W