This edition of Bands You Should Know features yet another Kiwi (New Zealand) band.  Why? Why not?  Don’t worry I’ll get to the rest of the world soon enough, and there is plenty out there.  So the band in this edition is a band from Christchurch New Zealand called The Feelers.  The Feelers are the most played bands in New Zealand and one of if not the most popular also.  Since 1999 they have sold more than 250,000 albums.  While that doesn’t sound impressive, remember that New Zealand only has about 4 million people and they didn’t start keep track of stats for sales until 1999.  The Feelers were around selling albums before that.  In total they have produced 5 albums and 1 best of.
The founding members of the band met the way most people do, fighting on field in primary school. James Reid and Hamish Gee obviously didn’t get along that day, but it was for the best as a few years later, in 1993 they, along with Matthew Thomas, formed the feelers.  This line up remained basically the same until 2008, when bassist Thomas left the band and was replaced with Matt Short.  They also added guitarist Andy Lynch who had played a bit on some of the tours.  The first album was 1998’s Supersystem so that’s where we’ll begin…..

Supersystem 1998

This was the first release and is still awesome today.  While it was released in 1998, it won album of the year, songwriter of the year, band of the year and producer of the year at the New Zealand Music Awards.  With a combination of plugged in and unplugged guitars, great drumming and solid lyrics the album is a winner.  With music ranging from acoustic ballads to rock that is reminiscent of the early 90’s grunge at times it’s a diverse album that I enjoy alot.  My stand out tracks are Pressure Man, Venus, Space Cadet, Honey God, From Space with Love, Pull the Strings (which has a bit of 70’s funk in it), and The Leaving.

Communicate 2001

Communicate, the second album, is another great showing.  It is a bit different then Supersystem but is still a great rock album that covers the same spectrum as the last one.  This album did contain more ballads, but they were still pretty damn good.  The title track is a nice anthem and they still have the same combination of instruments and music, and they do it just as good if not better.  You can here the growth all around, from musicality to lyrics.  The best tracks?  Well, in my opinion these are them, Sex Show, Communicate, Fragile, Just Like You, More to Prove, Astronaut and Anniversary

Playground Battle 2003

Recorded mostly at the York Street Studio, Playground Battle represents a slight departure from Communicate, It has less ballads and more straight rock songs.  The lyrics and musicality matured more as well and Reids vocals sound great, and a little like Peter Gabriel, which works well with their music.  The music shifted slightly from the 90’s grunge sound that was present in the last two albums to a straight alternative rock sound, which really helps Reid’s vocals shine.  As usual the guitar work is well done, with a few nice little solo’s spread throughout and solid drumming.  There are a lot of great tracks on this album, this is one of my favorite albums from The Feelers so it’s really hard for me to narrow down a few tracks to pick but I’ll try, so here goes.  My standouts on this album are Weapons of War, Larger Than Life, Playground Battle, The Fear, Supernova, Unleash the Fury and Stand Up.

One World 2006

After three years without a studio album, The Feelers 4th album, One World, was released in November of 2006.  From the first track, Weak and Wounded,  you can hear that they built on what they had going on in Playground Battle. The lyrics become more deep and meaningful also, not that they weren’t before,  Reid and The Feelers just keep evolving and maturing.  As with the previous albums, there is a nice mix of electric and acoustic sounds and it’s nice to hear a band that doesn’t use auto tuning.  Also the sound of this album and the lyrics match voice perfectly and what the band stands for, because of that the  whole album works well.  Weak and the Wounded has a great epic sound to it and is a great way to open an album.  The rest of the tracks?  Well, most are just as good.  I didn’t find any track that I didn’t like granted there were ones I liked more than others and here they are.  Week and the Wounded, One World, Trying to Get By, Southgate, Washed Away and Never Get Me Down.

Hope Nature Forgives 2011

It took 5 long years, some lineup changes, a marriage, a child and some jail time, but by the end of it The Feelers (with new additions, Guitarist Andy Lynch and bass player Matt Short) have released their fifth album, Hope Nature Forgives.  The Album, released in 2011 contained a cover of Right Here Right Now by Jesus Jones that was used during the Rugby World Cup.  Even though it was a great cover, good enough that Mike Edwards, the writer of the song, said that it was the best version he’s heard, even better than his own, yet it stirred controversy. Some people were upset that it wasn’t a New Zealand song.  To that Hamish said, “I think it’s ironic that people criticised it for not being a New Zealand song, I mean, the Rugby World Cup is an international event.”
The album was recorded at two studios, York Street and Roundhead Studios, but the boys produced it themselves at their home studio.  It was mixed in Austin Texas by Tim Palmer and mastered by Justin Shturtz, at Sterling Sound in New York.  It was truly a global effort and one that paid off.

This album picks up where One World left off and does a fine job of it.  The addition of two new members probably helped keep things fresh also.  The writing is once again very solid as are the vocals.  The band stretches their sound a bit, for instance, Sweet the Tempest has a bit of an Irish feel to it and is a great song.  The opening track Didn’t Want to Fall in Love is a solid opener and keeps the familiar sound.  One of the best tracks is Blue Skies, which was also the first single off of the album.  Blue Skies is a great song that just screams New Zealand and then of course there’s the kick ass remake of Right Here Right Now.  My favorite tracks? here they are….Didn’t Want to Fall in Love, Dasvidaniya, Sweet the Tempest, Blue Skies,  What’s the Meaning?, Right Here Right Now and Hope Nature Forgives.

Conclusion

So after 14 years and 6 albums, 7 if you count the best of album, do The Feelers appear to be slowing down?  I don’t think so, I think the infusion of new talent and the 5 year breather has reinvigorated them and they’ll continue on for years to come.  In fact when asked on their own website Reid said, “It’s great to have the four of us in the room playing together, we are having a lot of fun, it’s the way music should be made,” So I’m guessing if they’re having a good time, they’ll continue to.  So Give them a shot and enjoy! Thanks for reading!

-John

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