Felonious – Live City

Felonious – Live City

Felonious – Live City

The success of expansive, gelling, chemistry-filled jam bands is only going to get more and more evident. What The Roots made famous and well, respected, has become a wealthy style of music that many musicians and bands are aiming high to achieve.Through its origins and ensuing follow-ups, it’s always come off as the kind of music that sounds much, much, better live than clammed up in a studio. But for Live City, Felonious invested as much time as possible in allowing the free-willing MCing, lively on-stage set ups and creative energy thrive through the album’s heartbeat.

After three albums that captured a distinct knack for getting together and fueling desires and spirits through the channeling of various instruments, the San Francisco-based band takes a ‘no prisoners’ kind of approach in their music ability. As on “Heat” and its fusion of sampling Latin music and Motown music at the same time, it’s a melting pot of grooving sounds.

That’s not to say that everything Live City sets out to accomplish it succeeds in. The music is often too fitted and precise for its own good and when it calls for tighter riffs and stiffer vocals, the band is far too loose to grab the reigns. The balance between work and play is always the hardest calculation to measure but that’s because rather than focusing on the method, it should be natural. “Nonfiction” is a perfect example of where everything just seems to connect; bluesy and jazzy, the blend of instruments is masterful. One of the genuine songs that secures the band’s looseness, while still flowing, it comes together at the seams with trumpets, background vocals that bring forth the impact of Lauryn Hill and a chemistry that is bonded at the core.

Never afraid to spit the awkward line and never ones to lay back and let the music come to them, Felonious fill the spaces of this album with their own trademark styles. The MCs are clamoring on top of the soulful singer’s notes and the rhythm section is steadily punctuating their aim. Even when the music seems to lag behind – simply due to its own inability at delivering a valid perception – the band’s spirited approach is always welcoming.

And of course, on a studio album you can have some fun and witty delivery; however, the problems may be small, they’re still prevalent. Clunky lines clutter the lyric sheet with rhymes that sound forced and strategically positioned and when the musicians are allowed to improvise, they seem to come up lame with a lack of ideas. When you’re on stage and have had a few beers in you and are feeling relaxed, it might make the experience that much easier. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always come through on Live City.

Honestly speaking, Felonious are probably a massively successful band in a massively happening town. Translated to an album, the music is skeptical and significantly different from the live setting. But even with small qualms aside, Live City is still a worthy album that if nothing else, pays homage to the past greats that nailed the jam band mode before them.