Review by Bailey Garno
If the title of The Feed’s sophomore album is any indication of where the quartet’s priorities lie, I’d say this soul punk group is doing a fabulous job. Released August 5th, Outsider is a 9-track LP that brings elements of blues, jazz and straight head-banging, mosh-pitting rock and roll to the table.
With the way Outsider opens up, you might think your system has somehow skipped to the middle of the album. Two seconds of loud crashing cymbals and a quick electric guitar riff kicks off “Celestial Ceiling,” and then the music abruptly cuts out, for an inexplicable three seconds, before crashing back in. The rest of the track is filled with lots of hip oohs and ahhs and funky falsetto. In fact, minus the head-scratching break in the beginning of the song, there is little indication of how crazy and quirky The Feed can get.
“Outsider,” the title track and second single released in anticipation of the full LP, is absolutely more of what The Feed is all about. This one gets crazy loud, with a super fast tempo and erratic electric guitar riffs that are more commonplace on this album. What’s more, there is a brief but unmistakable tip to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” rally anthem about halfway through, before keyboard and vocalist Dave Grelle smashes into a face-melting solo on electric keyboard.
“Rexy” is a smoother track, appropriate I suppose for a lead single because it has more pop-y elements, reeling in new listeners and creating better potential for airplay. Nevertheless, “Rexy” doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb on Outsider, and I wouldn’t say the guys from St. Louis are selling out for the corporate jungle with this one. “Rexy” is more of a happy medium between the hyper energetic tendencies heard in “Outsider” and later in “Stella,” and the slowed down blues-y sounds like that of “Maggie Jean” and “Strut.”
“Stella” takes off, with Grelle’s filtered vocals singing “I’ve never a met a girl with so much energy before.” Indeed, this particular track is like a sprint from start to finish, but it’s fun and is quickly relieved with the slower, funky “My Blues.” Throughout Outsider, listeners will find the unmistakable influence of multiplatinum singer/songwriter/producer Ben Folds. “My Blues” is particularly reminiscent of the ever-talented Folds, especially when the piano begins to pound alongside the cymbals and guitar, accelerating the pace of the song until it is at full force around 3:10. By the end of “My Blues,” you’ll be wondering how you went from a jazzy, breather track to a moshpit of a song.
Coming in as the fifth track off the album, “Everybody Wants You” ends up being a bit dull for my liking. I appreciate the punk and often chaotic swings of The Feed, however this track just ends up being a gloomy tune, whose direction I just can’t put my finger on. Perhaps it’s meant to serve as a lead into the minor-driven “Victim.” This song also pushes my tolerance for abstractness a little too far. However, the lyrical work in “Victim” is impressive, showing less concern for rhyme scheme and sense in line construction but still eloquently telling a story. Additionally, the guitar solo that begins around 3:15 is super funky and will have fans cheering on guitarist Jordan Heimburger.
“Strut” really slows down the album, at least for the first 3:30 of the track. This one is especially jazzy, and brings blues to the front of the stage to ensure that The Feed satisfies the soul piece of “soul punk.” The brass elements, courtesy of Ben Reece, create a sensual sound, and random quirky cymbal taps add theatrical elements to this one. Never ceasing to surprise its listeners, The Feed outdoes itself with the ending of this one. Just when you think it’s over, the band breaks into their individual projects. It might sound like a nonsensical, last ditch effort to some, but the end of “Strut” would undoubtedly make for a sweaty scene in a dark, tightly-packed concert venue.
I really like “Maggie Jean” and its placement as the last track on Outsider. It feels like while you’re listening to it, Grelle, Heimburger, Reece, and drummer Kevin Bowers are walking away, slowly leaving listeners out of breath and in awe of the unrelenting jams they just experienced until the song finally fades to silence. It’s most similar to “Strut,” its preceding track, and I realized here that Outsider is a progression in its entirety. Unlike many albums which jump around and consciously place high energy songs in the beginning and end, and mix slower songs in the middle, The Feed isn’t afraid to get you going, going, going and then pull you back only when it’s all over with. It may seem unusual that The Feed should want to leave its listeners with the slow “Maggie Jean,” but then again, isn’t the whole point of Outsider to keep us on our toes?
Outsider is available for purchase on iTunes now! Check it out, give The Feed a listen, and let us know at Music Creates Us if you were able to listen to this album without jumping around—we bet that you can’t.