Feeding People – Island Universe: album review
Young Orange County psych rock band Feeding People’s 2nd full length album sees them reworking some of their previous best work with a big sound and a maturity far beyond their years.
Feeding People released their debut album and EP on Burger Records – material steadfastly true to the high caliber stoner rock aesthetic of the label – and the limited pressings of the cassette and LP sold out fairly quickly from the Burger store. Now the group have expanded to a five piece and signed to Innovative Leisure.
For their second album, they enlisted the skills of producers Hanni El Khatib and Jonny Bell (of Crystal Antlers fame), with mixer and engineer extraordinaire Bobby Harlow of The Go in the control room (who also worked wonders for King Tuff and The Pizazz).
The main talking point of the band is the distinctive raw bellow of vocalist Jessie Jones, which invite (probably lazy but inevitable) comparisons to supercharged 60’s belter Janis Joplin. Combine this with heavy upfront bass grooves, Louis Filliger’s loud and fast Sabbath-style guitar riffs, and some pretty intense drum walloping, and you’ve got a really impressive in-your-face force of ROCK.
“Silent Violent” is an apt title and shows off the group’s dynamic early on, shifting between gentler and heavier moments. In 4 minutes, sparse guitar plucking and measured tambourine shakes, accompanied by Jessie Jones’ pristinely dexterous voice, transform into the explosive fury of an avenging angel rising from a lake of fire…
“Other Side” charges straight in after, as Jones’ impassioned vocal once again confirms the band as a formidable presence to be reckoned with. Rapidly concussive drum beats, a hypnotically rhythmic bass strut and a razor clang of guitars add to their otherworldly power before things cool down a little with some woozy farfisa organ.
“Big Mother” is one big mutha of a tune, even in it’s new streamlined form (previous version clocked in at 2:59, whereas this one has been trimmed to a scant 1:34) – in the red and gutsy, with a perfect bluesy howl from Jones.
“Uranium Sea” is more hot stuff; an apocalyptic face melter of doomy riffs with Jones’ bewitching feral wail at the fore, and “Insane” is a similarly paced noisy drone which Black Sabbath would be proud of.
That’s not to say Feeding People stick to head-bangers with their compositions, as there is the unsettling hippy-ish folk of “Cat Song (Secrets of Luna)”, and enchanting title track “Island Universe”, where Jessie Jones trades her fearless intensity for a more whimsical and forlorn croon, a great Utopian escapist fantasy where she pleads, “Young and naïve/can’t we just make believe?” “Desert Song” even experiments with some Eastern flourishes and bongo style beats.
Maybe it’s partly down to mixer/engineer Bobby Harlow’s great instincts for 60’s throwback psych pop, but Island Universe already sounds like a classic. At times it feels like a live recording, but there is also an astonishing clarity to the performance which elevates their sound beyond being merely a diversion for the casual acid rock enthusiast.
In summary, this is a work of remarkable fierceness and ideas, showing strong potential for a band barely out of their teens; one can only wonder where they will go next…
All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.