The Felice Brothers: “Ponzi”
Over the course of two albums, The Felice Brothers have staked out a claim as the heirs apparent to that ramshackle Dylan & the Band sound. But on Celebration, Florida, the New York group strikes out for bolder territory, incorporating electronic elements and loops with their whiskey-soaked folk-rock.
Their backstory is full of the kind of self-mythologizing so prevalent in a lot of folk music. Formed by brothers Ian and James Felice in Upstate New York, the group soon recruited friends (including a supposed traveling dice player) and moved to Brooklyn, playing for spare change in subway stations. Regardless if any of it is true, the band largely let their music do the talking.
The Brothers’ new album strays from their rootsy past, employing darker themes both lyrically and musically. The name of the album refers to the planned town set up around Disney World, and Ian Felice populates the town with seedy characters and dark alleys. The album’s first single, “Ponzi,” rails against bankers with the help of a funky dancehall beat. It’s a departure from their past, but the band isn’t interested in a Disney version of American folk. Their version is messy but emotional, the way it was intended to be.