The Wild Feathers Craft Their Own Sound
The Wild Feathers, Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
There aren’t too many times when you can hear an album and think, “this sounds like pretty much nothing else out there, yet it sounds familiar at the same time” In fact, usually I gauge a band on how they can pull from influence without directly lifting from an act. When you listen to Tennessee’s The Wild Feathers you should realize they have done just that. What you may or may not know, is that the band’s singer Ricky Young was once the front man for a Houston band called Pilot Radio. That tie to Houston might explain the diverse sounds that the band creates. Their recently released major label album, “Lonely Is A Lifetime,” is essentially pop rock, though at the core there’s so much more. Hints of Americana, Britpop, and country are all over the eleven track release, and while you might hear some of your favorite acts influence on the band, they never copy anyone.
The band wastes no time in getting to the good stuff with the opener, “Overnight.” Originally released as a lead single, the catchy chorus and hook filled melodies immediately stick in your head. Though it eerily reminded me of another Tennessee band’s major label album with Superdrag’s “Regretfully Yours;” here the band goes deeper into the unknown. The almost go the opposite direction on the second song, “Sleepers.” Things kick off with a spaced out vibe complete with shoegaze elements. Though the track is slower, it still stays with you like a modern day ballad while keeping you locked in at every note. The use of Young’s dual vocals add a nice depth to the track that make it feel more inclusive. The band digs deeper into the depths of musicianship on the following song, the eight minute “Goodbye Song.” The band finds a way to echo the sounds of acts like Graham Parsons and Big Star one the song that feels like it was recorded when big guitars and harmonies played a role in how songs were presented. There are these gorgeous guitar runs that would be considered grandiose on any other song, but here they feel appropriate and justified. Like any great song, it doesn’t feel like the length it clocks in at and you actually want more when it’s over.
A couple of tracks later, the band utilizes psych sensibilities on “Happy Again.” Though the track quickly picks up pace and has more of a pop rock feel, the layered guitar tracks and dual backing vocals make the song feel like something that would’ve been hit worthy of the late seventies. You realize how diverse these guys are as a band when you hear how many different levels the song encompasses from start to finish. You could say the same about the almost Wilco sounding “Leave Your Light On.” Though the band deters from the Wilco feels quickly, you do get the impression that this is where Wilco would’ve gone had they stuck to their “Being There” era sound. Like a fist pumping alt country tune, there were moments where the song felt closer to an Old 97’s song than anything else. They take this further with the next song, “Help Me Out,” where the pop rock hooks of the track grab your attention immediately, while the Big Star sound of the song makes it one you’ll place on repeat. There’s an inherent beauty to how these guys craft a song, where the addition of reeling solos and dissonant drums might not fit in today’s world, but these guys do so with ease.
The band keeps those pop heavy hooks two tracks later with the great American rock band feeling of “On My Way.” Mixing varying sounds that sound like a mix of Rhett Miller, and Britpop act Supergrass, the band really finds their own niche in a sound that could be found in places from major rock radio to a local record store. They mix things up on the more electro sounds of “Into The Sun,” where their employment of drum machine with acoustic guitar is only cut by Young’s defined vocal presence. When the guitar solo rolls in, in feel effortless while it gets met with a feedback fuzz on a song that has tons of pop, but doesn’t feel like a teenie bop track. They close things off with the diverse and skillfully performed “Hallelujah.” Just vocals, a drum machine, and acoustic guitars with background synths that stay in the background, the song resonates where again, Young’s vocals add a depth that few vocalists can accomplish in today’s music world.
When the album is finished, you almost immediately replay it from start to finish. One of the best major label albums I’ve heard in a long time, “Lonely Is A Lifetime” showcases that there are still bands out there doing their own thing while never losing the hooks that can take a band from the unknown to stardom. Whether or not anyone makes this band the next big thing, this album is diverse, it’s lush, and it stands apart from so many of the garbage acts making their way out of Tennessee today. While the band doesn’t have a Houston date scheduled yet, I’d guess that with the strengths of this release, they’ll be here sooner than later.