“I wanna live where culture kills machines and decent melodies will haunt you in your dreams.” On Blood Orange Moon, Felsen delivers a new telepathic message through melody and lyric beamed directly from their late-night West Oakland studio. The album releases January 28, 2018 on Mystery Lawn Music.
Listeners are reeled into Felsen’s revealing inner world of entangled branches, swarms of bees, unfolded paper cranes, private airlines, and kung fu medallion-wearing angel investors secretly typing in memory motels. There Felsen’s grudge match takes place between analog synth and cello, acoustic guitar and Reagan era drum machine, glockenspiel and fuzz box, reverb and tremolo, loud and just quiet enough to hear the gong shimmer.
The songs on this fifth Felsen release were written in the fall of 2014/winter of 2015 reflecting on earlier events in 2014 by Felsen’s front man Andrew Griffin who is an 11 year cancer survivor. “I’d hit yet another rough patch in my life due to ongoing health issues. I needed more surgery and kinda dropped off the face of the earth for a few months. After I was out of the hospital and doing the Vicodin shuffle around the house in the summer of 2014, I started playing the guitar again mainly just to stave off boredom. I started to amass new little song embryos on my computer. Play guitar, stare at screen. Eventually the words and the music meet.”
Griffin started a branch of the Felsen family tree, playing with a few new faces and a few old ones, referring to that unit as the Felsen Symphonette. Incorporating cello, glockenspiel, synth, acoustic guitars and hand percussion–a bit of a departure from the electric guitar-heavy music of previous of Felsen albums . The Symphonette started to perform house concerts and backyards low volume, lo-fi, low tech, Griffin says, “Why not write an album of that lower volume stuff?”
Inspired by a Rolling Stone review of George Harrison’s, All Things Must Pass. Griffin was also greatly under the musical narcosis of Beck’s twin albums Sea Change and Morning Phase as well as Songs for a Blue Guitar by Red House Painters. I also heard Serge Gainsbourg’s tune, “Bonnie & Clyde” on an episode of Mad Men and eventually found Serge’s Historie de Melody Nelson. Griffin recruited Allen Clapp of the Orange Peels to mix the album. Blood Orange Moon’s tempos are slower, volumes often quieter with vocals sung in a lower register. “The tunes kinda sprawl out more and take more time to unfold.” Music for mountain tops indeed.
“Like the kid in Almost Famous, my big sis left me a treasure trove of LPs. Listening to the music and staring at the album jackets was an extrasensory, larger-than-life experience for me.” This will be the first vinyl LP that Felsen has produced. “Blood Orange Moon is really intended to be listened to on LP from start to finish, digested in one sitting.” Kind of a tall order in this insane, hectic time. “We wanted to make it really fun to look at as well. Search for all the hidden clues on the album Jacket and read along with the lyrics!”
Felsen has toured extensively throughout the US opening for national acts: Camper Van Beethoven, Marcy Playground, One Eskimo, Stone Foxes and Luce. Felsen has been featured on Bay Area radio stations KPFA, KALX, KZSU and were selected to be on KFOG’s Local Scene Volume 11. Felsen has performed at both the NoisePop & ULUV music festivals and was a Deli Magazine Band of the Month. The current lineup of Felsen includes 4 Non Blondes guitarist Roger Rocha, former bassist with A Band Called Pain, Bryan Dean, Drummer Robert Tucker of the Metallica album Jason Newsted’s Chophouse Band and backing vocalist Dara Ackerman.
This album is about direct (and indirect) communication, desire, loss, cutting through the BS, wanting to be with you and wanting to sing right into your ear. The tunes kinda sprawl out more and take more time to unfold. It’s music for headphones or late night car drives.
Something happens when Felsen plays. It’s some kind of strange voodoo of give and take between band and audience. We always say, you gotta shed some blood for the audience. You gotta reveal something for them, you gotta reach out to them and make yourself available, be vulnerable, take risks and deviate from the script. Audience participation is mandatory and non-negotiable. Feeling inhibited? Not a problem. Leading you by the hand is our job, but you’ll be required to sing along. Fear not–it’s good for you. Like Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody”, and Felsen is here to serve you.