The Wild Feathers is the debut album by alternative-southern rock band The Wild Feathers. Released on August 13, 2013, the album hasn't attained much radio play, although "The Ceiling" is turning out to be the album's most popular song.
The album starts out on a good note with "Backwoods Company". I could best describe this song as a form of modern rockabilly music, showing off the band's love for southern rock with underlying acoustic guitar and harmonica, while staying modern with loud guitars and drums typical of alternative music. The chorus's lyrics are typical of a rockabilly song: "Lay me down by the old oak tree / Don't cut my hair when they bury me". However, the chorus is played in a style of alternative rock. The bridge gets more alternative, even borrowing the melody from "Fell in Love With a Girl" by The White Stripes, but the final chorus gets back to the previous style. Overall, "Backwoods Company" is a phenomenal start to the album and is one of my favorite songs from the album.
"American" is one of the most alternative songs from the album, but there's still a hint of southern rock, as there is throughout the entire album. The instrumentation seems the most alternative here, but the arrangement is distinctly southern, most notably when the guitar plays its mini-solos. The vocals actually remind me slightly of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, especially in the verses. The chorus showcases the band's many different vocalists. There's a band that this song reminds me of (as do a lot of the songs, especially later) but I can't put my finger on it. "American" is a solid track overall that shows the band's attempt to be modern while staying true to their roots.
3. I Can Have You
"I Can Have You" is another solid song, showcased by quick, staccato chords on multiple guitars. The style of this song reminds me a little bit of The Shins, albeit a little more happy-go-lucky, as this is a love song. The chorus's lyrics are demonstrative of this feel: "I can make the sun rise / I can make time fly / I can do anything I want to do / I can have you any time I want to". The lyrics in the verses and bridge are a little bit quirky as well.
4. Tall Boots
A change from the previous songs, "Tall Boots" is slower, reminiscent of The Avett Brothers and Jackson Browne. The song is led by acoustic guitar, accompanied mainly by piano and slow drums. "Tall Boots" is a song about looking back and remembering the past. The chord progressions through the verses and chorus are definitive of southern rock ballads, and this song shows less of The Wild Feathers' modern side, highlighting their love for classic southern rock.
5. The Ceiling
"The Ceiling" is undoubtedly becoming the album's most popular song. Starting out somewhat similarly to The Lumineers, the song is more up-tempo and uses catchy melody lines throughout. The chorus is the star of the show, showcasing syncopated drums and melodies with tight harmonies. "The Ceiling" has potential to become more popular on mainstream radio, but it will definitely need a radio edit, as the song tallies in at 6 minutes and 18 seconds. The song is another great mix of classic southern rock and modern alternative-folk rock. However, after about three and a half minutes, the song quiets down into a second phase with the repeated lyric "We should be easy". However, this part seems to drone on for a bit too long and is the only negative to an otherwise great song.
6. Left My Woman
Fans of classic rock bands like The Band or Jackson Browne will love "Left My Woman". It's another slow acoustic ballad, showcasing multiple different vocalists. The chorus is especially reminiscent of The Band with huge harmonies. The verse melodies are slightly similar to The Black Crowes and Jackson Browne, with each of the band's three main vocalists taking an equal share of each verse. The instrumentation of acoustic and electric guitars with underlying keyboard showcases the band's ability to imitate southern rock, and after the solo, the chorus's main melody is sung a capella for an amazing moment of the song. "Left My Woman" is an amazing song and another one of my favorites.
7. I'm Alive
"I'm Alive" is extremely similar to Tom Petty. The chorus's lyrics sound like they could have been written by Petty himself: "I'm alive / I guess I'm doin' all right / I'm alive tonight". An electric guitar melody leads the way during the verses, splitting time with the lead vocalist in a call-and-response-type style. The song overall is very up-tempo and is led by the electric guitar, but the acoustic still manages to sneak in.
8. Hard Wind
"Hard Wind" is mid-tempo, led mostly by electric guitar and vocals. The song's opening lyrics set the tone for the song: "Hard wind / No matter where I turn / Hard wind / Like a wildfire burns". The song almost songs like an adapted Johnny Cash song in the way that the chords and vocal melodies work together, but the guitar is much to heavy to have been played by Cash. There are guitar solos all throughout the song, with the last part of the song being much heavier than anything in the album before.
9. If You Don't Love Me
The end of "Hard Wind" fades into the next track, "If You Don't Love Me". This track is extremely reminiscent of Jackson Browne. The chorus again tells the story of the similarities: "I see a picture in your eyes / Of a man who's going to die / If you don't love me". The song is about the same tempo as "American" but is much softer, led by acoustic guitar and organ. Obviously, "If You Don't Love Me" is a love song, but unlike "I Can Have You", this song is much more serious and somber, as the lyrics in the chorus portray.
10. Hard Times
The opening guitar progression of "Hard Times" appears to be the same as the southern rock classic "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band. The vocals are especially similar to The Black Crowes. The beginning of the song is primarily acoustic guitar, sounding most similar to "Can't You See", but once the rest of the band joins in, the song sounds more similar to The Black Crowes. Like "The Ceiling", the song has two main parts to it, with the main part of the song being followed up by a quieter ditty section. In "Hard Times", this section sounds more like The Doobie Brothers.
11. Got It Wrong
"Got It Wrong" sounds like a mix between an up-tempo Jackson Browne song and a song by The Decemberists. It's another love song, and it's more similar to "I Can Have You" than "If You Don't Love Me" in that the lyrics are happier although not quite as happy-go-lucky as "I Can Have You". The chorus starts out with the lyric "It's all right baby" which reminds me of "Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead. Overall, though, "Got It Wrong" is just a tad weaker than previous songs, possibly because the style starts to get a little old this late into the album, but it's by no means a bad song.
The album (at least the standard edition, which is all I'm reviewing) ends with the slow "How", which is even more similar to The Black Crowes than "Hard Times" was. "How" is the most bluesy song from the album, giving the album a somewhat somber ending. I wouldn't really call it super-somber, more somber as in the song "She Talks to Angels" in that it's just slow and bluesy without really being sad. However, because of the band's love for southern rock, it's fitting that the album end with a bluesy song.
If you were paying attention, you probably noticed that I used a lot of references to other artists in this review. That's because the songs are pretty obviously inspired by southern rock classics, and The Wild Feathers don't intend to hide it. From Jackson Browne to Tom Petty, The Wild Feathers have a long list of influences that show greatly in their music. Overall, "The Wild Feathers" is a phenomenal debut album, with standout songs like "Backwoods Company", "The Ceiling", and "Left My Woman" leading the way. Even the "weaker" songs of the album are still good songs. I would definitely recommend "The Wild Feathers" to fans of classic southern rock and modern alternative-folk rock, and I hope that the band receives mainstream attention, as they deserve it.
Overall Rating: 9/10