Feeding People Island Universe (Innovative Leisure)
When I think of Burger Records, I think of garage rock, power pop—and cassettes—but this Los Angeles band, who previously recorded for the label, is more of a psychedelic proposition.
Nineteen-year-old founder Jessie Jones* leads the group with forthright vocals that recall Debbie Harry and Jefferson Airplane-era Grace Slick, but just when you've got her pegged as an old-school belter, she adds a delicate, jazzy vocal to the title track and Hope Sandoval-like twang to the otherwise blistering "Silent Violet." As with Seattle's Rose Windows, who Dave Segal profiled here, Jones also seems to have taken cues from the late, great Mariska Veres of the Shocking Blue.
* The press notes state that she's 19; this OC Weekly interview adds one year.
For producers, the quintet turned to Hanni El Khatib and Jonny Bell of the Crystal Antlers, who opted for mood and atmosphere over precision and clarity, and that suits Feeding People's style. When they quicken the pace, as on "Inside Voices," they cross the line from psychedelia to punk, and that doesn't happen nearly enough. Oddly enough, Jones sounds like a less affected Dale Bozzio—even if Missing Persons aren't a likely reference point—on the faster numbers...which means that a cover of "Walking in L.A." wouldn't be out of order.
Though the band consists of teenagers, they come across as older; not just because they appear to be looking to the past for inspiration, but because their second record belies greater maturity than their ages indicate. That said, they sound a little unformed, as if they're still finding their way. They've established a template, but they're not quite there yet. But they're close. Very, very close.
Innovative Leisure releases Island Universe on Feb 5. Stream it now at SPIN.
Addendum: Sean Jewell wrote about the EP version of Island Universe in this post.