Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Innovative Leisure
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
If Feeding People were to inform us what they’re indeed feeding people with, the answer would surely be short and simple: garage rock. For with Island Universe, the second album released by the California band, immediacy appears to be key. There is a frenzied urgency with which the band rip through their repertoire of noisy songs, with album opener Mountain Song being deceivingly melodic and warmly welcoming, before the darker and more menacing sounding Uranium Sea swoops forebodingly upon us like the soundtrack to a burgeoning Tarantino bloodbath.
With a slight yet colorful history (the band cannot legally drink yet) that includes an evangelical upbringing that was thwarted by a Fab Four intervention, cassette- and vinyl-loving independent label Burger Records, and Ray Bradbury's house (the latter was used to film the video for the album's dreamy title track), Farfisa, fuzz, and Lizard King-loving Orange County psych-rockers Feeding People skillfully balance their counterculture affectations with a vagabond Gen-X spirit that belies their millennial credentials. Like a Laurel Canyon-kissed amalgamation of the 13th Floor Elevators, Opal, Esben & the Witch, Crystal Antlers, and Surfer Blood, Island Universe, the band's debut for the Innovative Leisure label, forces noisy indie rock, stoner metal, trippy psychedelic pop, and freak folk to sit at the same lunch table, resulting in a spirited yet oh so slightly hesitant food fight that goes just far enough to earn a couple of detentions. Genuine youthful folly aside, there are some truly cosmic moments to be found here, most of which arrive via mega-church escapee/mini-siren Jessie Jones, a 19-year-old force of nature who emits a sound like a radio dial hovering between Fiona Apple, Jefferson Airplane, Lana Del Ray, and the Doors.
When a press release is so bold as to liken a young singer to Grace Slick, Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin, skepticism is natural. In the case of Jessie Jones, frontwoman for the Orange County garage-psych outfit Feeding People, comparisons to these legends have some merit, but they are also an unfair standard for a singer and band just out of the gate, pitting the 19-year old wailer against her best possible outcome to her career as a performer. These unrealistic entry points are furthered by the shared tale of being the second band to ever play the famed Low End Theory, sharing the stage with Thom Yorke.
"I want to create an island universe with another person-- either the listener or a lover-- so that we can share the same feelings and things," Feeding People singer Jessie Jones said, referring to the title of the California five-piece's second album. When choosing her desert island discs, she wasn't exactly picky: Island Universe feeds off meandering Strange Days interludes, Sabbath sludge, and the loud, fast riffs of Black Lips and Davila 666, the band's one-time label Burger Records label mates. These disparate strands are tied together by Jones' distinctive voice, but only just.
Few albums deserve the categorization “boring” like Feeding People’s unfortunate Island Universe. Within the context of Japandroids, Metz and 12 months of quality releases from the broad and increasingly burgeoning garage and noise rock genres, Feeding People’s full-length debut album tires. Not only is it an exercise in mimicry, juxtaposed with quiet moments of dull and acoustic droning, but each strum of a distorted and haphazardly-tuned guitar sounds lazy.