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    The Features

    Become fan 1 Rate 0 Like & Share
    Genre:Indie, Alternative
    Rank: history »
    /5 from 0 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Stark White Stork Approaching lyrics
    2Offer Up lyrics
    3Chapter III lyrics
    4Off Track lyrics
    5Dark Room lyrics
    6Someway, Somehow lyrics
    7This Disorder lyrics
    8Harder to Ignore lyrics
    9The Way it's Meant to Be lyrics
    10Situation Gone Bad lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Some Kind Of Salvation [2008]
    2Wilderness [2011]
    3The Beginning [2001]
    4The Features [2013]
    5Contrast [2006]
    6Exhibit A [2004]


    The sweetest treasures are always the most unexpected. And so it is with this latest, precious surprise, crawling up from a sleepy, old-fashioned pocket of the American South, staring out at unfamiliar faces in unfamiliar locations as far apart as New York, LA and London (and dozens more anonymous burgs in between) who grasp at their buzzing, razor-sharp bites of pop with a fever close to obsession. It's an unlikely story, all the better for being wholly true.

    It begins in Tennessee, a state with music in its soul, in its very earth. Nashville is, of course, internationally known as the home of Country & Western music, a seething and bustling hub of the music industry; other locations, like Knoxville and Chattanooga, have been immortalised in songs that will live on as long as music itself.

    Sparta, a dry, dull little city tucked in beneath a range of mountains, isn't one of these places. In fact, it's hard to think of a place teenagers would less like to grow up, with the nearest legal liquor a mountain-trek away, and the highlight of the year's social calendar being the annual High School talent contest. You make your own fun in Sparta, and that's exactly what the nascent members of The Features did; aged 13 and bored out of their minds, looking for something to do, sweet and edgy singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Pelham, softly-spoken and thoughtful bassist Roger Dabbs, and grandly charismatic organist Parrish Yaw - who brilliantly, as his name suggests, looks as if he's just strolled out of some 18th century Western ghost town - grabbed themselves some instruments and decided to form a band.

    They started out playing covers, in the time-honoured tradition of kids lusting after 'The Rock' but unwilling to enrol in music lessons. Exploring the sacred riffs of The Beatles and Zeppelin, the core texts of the High School rock fan, the boys slowly mastered the language and customs of rock'n'roll in local barnyards and garages. Obviously, Sparta boasted no bars where they could play their covers and the new songs they were beginning to write, so the band took to playing parties and the local Talent Show (history doesn't record if the more New Wave-flavoured sound of the early Features ever won gongs at this contest).

    Slowly, surely, their career began to progress. They moved to Murfreesboro to study, got connected with a live scene there and promptly quit college to concentrate on their music. They played a couple of shows in Nashville, and in the further outreaches of Tennessee. They recorded an eponymous EP, capturing the more 80s-themed contortions of their early incarnation. They lost a drummer, swiftly hiring young Rollum Haas, a wiry jumble of enthusiasm with an accent just this side of Keanu Reeves who was a long-time fan, had Matt's phone number, and called them for an audition the second he heard the drumstool was vacant.

    There's no magical twist in this chapter of The Features' story; the boys had never really banked on a career in music but, as had been the case since they first picked up their instruments, they loved playing, and the idea of doing this for a living certainly appealed. "Being in a rock'n'roll band, playing music, its all great, great fun," offers Parrish, with brilliant simplicity. "The travelling, getting to go places you've never been, that's my favourite part: playing for people that you've never played for before, seeing what their reaction is. Playing your hometown is cool, but you kinda already expect something, you know? When you go to a different place, its like starting all over again, and that's really neat."

    No, no spectral fairy descended from the heavens, waving her wand and granting the foursome their dream. They grafted, crafted, worked on their material and their live show, sent demo tapes and played gigs, and soon signed to UK label Fierce Panda to release a clutch of acclaimed 7"s, including 2003's 'The Beginning' EP - a statement of intent from a band who had already been together for a decade, albeit as a hobby for many of those years - which was later re-released in the States by Universal, to whom the band had just signed. Their debut album, 'Exhibit A', is released on Universal imprint Temptation.

    Listening to its bristling, casual genius, it's no surprise The Features were signed so swiftly. Ask the band for their inspirations, their aspirations, and they'll humbly talk of a broad field of influence, of wanting to play music that's fresh and new and doesn't feel like you've heard it before. And so it is with 'Exhibit A', a speeding jumble of sharp-edged guitar pop with a lush melodic core and a great lyrical sensibility. Songs buzz past in a blur, hormonal bolts of confusion echoing the Buzzcocks' desperate pop, the Undertones' sweetened bile, the Cars' riotous farfisa-drenched audacity, the Attractions' acidic organ stabs, Sparks' gift for vaudevillian theatricality.

    The sheer giddy energy of the album drags you through its 33 minutes in a flash, Matt's slashing guitar and howling holler, sometimes like a preacher in full-on bug-eyed yelling mode (the gonzo glam-punk of 'That's The Way It's Meant To Be', the hilarious gothic-pastiche of 'Exorcising Demons'), sometimes something much sweeter ('The Idea Of Growing Old', one of a number of songs inspired by his children) always the focus, but this band would be much the poorer without Parrish's frantic keyboards, and Rollum and Roger's rumbling, tumbling circus-act rhythm section.

    "I don't think I ever planned on doing this," reels Matt at his burgeoning role as rock'n'roll star, "But it seems like, from the very beginning, I've just loved to do this. And that we could play music and make records and live off doing that is just a wonderful surprise."

    Humble but insanely-gifted, these are The Features. Your latest wonderful surprise, and your new favourite band.


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