BEST LOCAL ALBUM OF THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS - 2004
Razing a Nation: The Ballad of a New Lone Ranger
A purveyor of songs that race to the heart and mind without becoming soapbox manifestoes, Feiles grew up in Studio City, California, and spent the Nineties in Miami as the piano-playing frontman of the two Natural Causes (a diverse but rocking ensemble, and then later a hard-driving quartet). He moved to the New York City area, first Brooklyn and then to New Jersey just before that bleak day in the autumn of 2001. He took photos of the World Trade Center flying toward him in bits as he stood on the balcony of his apartment across the river. Like Bruce Springsteen (in so many ways), Feiles was especially affected by the September 11 attacks and, like Broooce, turned to creating music in a quest for solace. Both The Rising and Feiles's frighteningly brilliant album are purely American (Razing has an antebellum thread running through it). Both contain powerful songs of destruction, redemption, survival, recovery, courage, love, the endurance of the human spirit. With words, notes, and an acoustic guitar, Feiles came back to Miami for two weeks specifically to record Razing at Rat Bastard's new studio, a super high-tech sound machine inside the famous producer's Miami Beach condo. (Rat's become quite selective about whose recordings he'll produce; he leapt at the chance to work with his good friend Arlan.) Recorded and released almost covertly, Razing's plaintive yet unyielding tunes inspire kind thoughts and give life to hope. What else is there?