From the first fizzle of the high-hat in “The Notion,” to the last lingering lick in “Peace of Mind,” the Champaign-based rock group, Finer Feelings, establish themselves as one of the scene’s most enticing acts today with their latest album Dog Band. Combining elements of southern and folk rock and layered with lush instrumentation, Finer Feelings present a strong effort that solidifies their place in the current rock scene in Champaign-Urbana.
Finer Feelings at the Hogchute Opry. Photo by Allison Greenwood.
Among the album’s strongest characteristics is the instrumentation. All four band members utilize their instrumental talents to provide a plethora of depth to every track. Whether it is the violin on “Joseph Snyder” or the Wurlitzer on “Never as Happy,” the conversations between the instruments adds a much greater fullness to the songs than one would expect from just four bandmates.
The most convincing performance on the album is the voice of Chris D. Davies. Powerful, yet filled with tenderness, Davies’ voice is what truly gives Dog Band and Finer Feelings a great deal of substance. Alleya Weibel also provides some solid vocals that complement Davies well, particularly on “The Notion.” On top of that, the lyrics on this album are also exceptional. Each track is unique in its subject matter and pulls the listener in to what the speaker has to say. “Murder Ballad” and “Don’t Give a Damn” are standouts when it comes to lyrics.
While truly distinct in the realm of the current rock scene in Champaign, the album is not without its flaws. Certain tracks on the album sound like more a collection of interesting ideas compiled into one rather than complete songs. Take for example, “Dilaudid.” What starts as a beautiful, melodic introduction that hypes you up for more is all of a sudden brought to a grinding halt, and it takes a while for the energy that was lost to be brought back again. It’s not that every track needs to follow a verse, chorus, verse chorus order per se, but when there are tracks that have a cohesive beginning, middle, and end, they truly shine. The best example of this is “Joseph Snyder,” which is without a doubt the highlight of the album. The guitar, violin and vocals all complement each other so well on this song that it honestly makes for some of the best music we have going on right now in C-U.
The only other factor of the album that I have mixed feelings about is the production. Certain songs sound absolutely amazing and are balanced very well, like “Murder Ballad” and “Dilaudid.” Other songs like “Never as Happy” are more muddy, and instruments tend to conceal each other, with the vocals being affected the most. Unfortunately, the bass is the instrument that tends to play hide and seek throughout this album. There are times when it is really bumping, while other times it is invisible. However, it is not enough to deter me away from enjoying the album still. Dog Band still has a solid sound overall.
On the whole, Dog Band is a truly tight record from Finer Feelings. This record is not one to miss, and is the perfect antidote for anyone’s humid summer blues.
For more information, check out Finer Feelings’ bandcamp here, where you can stream a couple tracks of Dog Band and pre-order a digital copy for only $2.
Finer Feelings will be officially releasing Dog Band on July 22nd. They’ll be throwing an album release party for it at Cowboy Monkey that will also feature a handful of C-U folk favorites to help celebrate. The show starts at 9 p.m. and is $7 at the door.