Glenn Mercer of The Feelies releases his second solo album, an all-instrumental set of originals with covers of Jimi Hendrix, Brian Eno and The Wizard of Oz to finish up. Mercer is a talented musician, weaving these detailed, many-layered compositions together entirely by himself. How many instruments he plays here I’ve no idea… Out on Bar-None.
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Life is full of soul-destroying, crushing disappointments… but not always.
Glenn Mercer has been the perma-sunglassed leader of the Feelies throughout their thirty year plus on/off career, but this is the first time he's made a solo album. For the roots of the sound of this album, you have to swerve back to the early ’80s, when the Feelies were on one of their lengthy sabbaticals. Mercer and co-guitarist Bill Mercer founded the Willies, an instrumental duo who never released a record but were purported to be playing around New York playing loose instrumentals inspired by Brian Eno. This purely instrumental record is in the same vein.
Opener ‘Hana’ is a total delight recalling the quirkier end of the Feelies oeuvre with sunny side up guitars, Eno style treated guitar and hand percussion. What a lovely tune it is -- the guys from Real Estate are going to flip. ‘Cheyenne’ too is a minimal treat with simple guitar textures and wheezing organ recalling some of those early Young Marble Giants instrumentals, but just when you have it pinned down as a new wave acoustic delight Mercer throws a couple spanners in the works with ‘Mobile’ (kind of like the Rolling Stones compressed into a pod) and the endless whining guitar of ‘Moss Point’.
Mercer has always been fond of a guitar solo and he certainly lets loose here, but between these more angular pieces there are more delights to be had on the 'Here Come the Warm Jets'-ish ‘Lamarie’ and deliciously soft side one closer ‘Winslow’. This is truly a solo album, with Mercer playing everything backed on occasion with drum machine. Over on the flip there’s the surf pop of ‘Hermosa’, the droning ’Twenty Nine Palms’ -- where you hear many hints of Feelies splinter band Speed the Plough -- before the record closes with a grimy, muddy and lengthy take on Jimi Hendrix’s 'Third Stone From the Sun’.
The record is an understated and quirky delight. All fans of the Feelies should pick it up. Be mindful the odd moments of discordance here and there and you have something that lovingly spoons Eno, Young Marble Giants and of course the Feelies into the same jar.
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