The Felice Brothers
Valley of Abandoned Songs


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sowing STAFF
July 7th, 2024 | 12 replies


Release Date: 06/28/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "My life is a blade of grass, in a season it all will pass...let me ride away with the horsemen."

When Conor Oberst goes out of his way to create a new label just so your b-sides can get released, you know you're doing something right. Such is the case for The Felice Brothers, who've been around longer than many would believe but only recently seemed to get their due in some circles, with 2021's From Dream to Dust - a modern folk classic - placing the band squarely on the radar of anyone who missed the band's 2008 self-titled breakthrough. Valley of Abandoned Songs - a compilation of demos from previous recording sessions - may primarily draw existing fans, but it sounds the part of a quality album in and of itself. Suffice to say, you might only know that it's a compilation of unfinished songs because you read about it somewhere.

Valley of Abandoned Songs hits the bullseye from the word go with the immaculate and highly infectious 'Crime Scene Queen', which boasts the album's biggest melodic hook via an earworm chorus that's on par with the catchiest cuts that From Dreams to Dust had to offer. It's a great way to draw in the consumer, but in reality, Valley is much more of an understated experience. The majority of these tracks thrive on elegant piano notes that imbue foggy, forsaken atmospheres ('New York By Moonlight'); or depressing but timelessly relevant lyrics like To the atom bomb / Science and progress, what have you done? from 'It's Midnight and The Doves Are in Tears', or Bible thumping madmen run the world, and I know that's not gonna change / It’s a more or less shitty world from 'Tomorrow Is Just A Dream Away'. The words and melodies slowly plant their hooks in your memory, bringing you back to discover one more subtle flourish than you picked up on during the last go-around. In other words, it's the best kind of grower: intriguing from the start, but ample in the sort of substance that grants it longevity.

Valley of Abandoned Songs is, at its core, still a b-sides compilation however. This means that it's not going to be an experience overflowing with the band's prime material. For every song that makes you wish it had found its way onto an LP tracklist - such as the spectral, haunting 'Let Me Ride Away With The Horsemen' - there's a track that makes immediate sense as to why it was on The Felice Brothers' backburner, such as the relatively straightforward piano-laden 'Birdies'. Even if the ratio skews more towards the former, it's just enough to prevent Valley from joining the band's elite tier of releases. Despite this, a simple truth remains: The Felice Brothers' castoffs are better than most folk group's A-listers. As such, Valley of Abandoned Songs is an offering that stands on its own.

Dedicated fans of The Felice Brothers can bask in another strong batch of songs, while newcomers may look to this as a gateway to the group's very best material. Either way, Valley is about as worthwhile as b-side compilations come - further proving that The Felice Brothers are one of the best and most underappreciated folk/Americana acts in recent memory. Dive into their music and you won't be sorry.



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user ratings (9)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
July 7th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The march to 666 reviews continues 😈 Something is going to happen when I hit that mark, I'm just not sure what yet.



Don't miss on this release - The Felice Brothers are incredible.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2024


6028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice! Glad to have a place to lyric-post now

Sowing
Moderator
July 7th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We have a lot of catching up to do if we're ever going to match the From Dreams to Dust thread ;-)

DoofDoof
July 7th 2024


15467 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, great album

Sowing
Moderator
July 7th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! This grew a bit and has had a lot of staying power. Crime Scene Queen, Tomorrow is Just a Dream Away, New York By Moonlight, It's Midnight and the Doves are in Tears, and Let Me Ride Away With The Horsemen are all excellent tracks and nothing here is subpar by their standards.

theBoneyKing
July 7th 2024


24563 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice write up Sowing! I pretty much fully agree with your take. This is continuing to grow.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2024


6028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Sowing, haha, yeah, we'll never catch that - From Dreams To Dust is an all-time great lyrical album. But plenty of good ones here too.



Are you high as Mr Albert was



when he drove the cross town bus



straight into the sky


mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2024


1859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For this being a bunch of b-sides and leftover songs, this is really good. Better than some of their traditional studio albums in my opinion.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2024


27993 Comments


great review!

I've only heard From Dreams to Dust but I loved it. also, I guess they snuck in Asylum On The Hill in December when I wasn't paying attention so think I'll check that as well ;)

Sowing
Moderator
July 8th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! This isn't as immediate, but it's got some great moments. Definitely worth checking if you enjoy the band.

WretchedCacophony
July 9th 2024


3116 Comments


"Something is going to happen when I hit that mark"
it will be a day that the sun rises, birds chirp, children play outside, many go to their jobs, Cthulhu possesses the world, men go home to their wives, and the sun sets without anyone batting an eye.

Nrap
July 13th 2024


527 Comments


this is a pleasant surprise



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