For lack of a better introduction, I’ll approach Felsen’s latest album, Blood Orange Moon, in a similar manner that they begin its first track, “Vultures on Your Bones.”– by diving in, feet first. Their lyrics demand attention, the first line a startling “I wanna live where culture kills machines.” In an age of over-stimulation, technological distraction and a bogging down from social media, the sentence is a welcomed one, setting the tone for a wake up call.
The Oakland, CA-based band has seen their share of strife and obstacles. Tracks that come off a bit rough around the edges have every right to do so. Blood Orange Moon consists of songs written in the fall of 2014/winter of 2015, as frontman Andrew Griffin reflected on past experiences. An eleven year cancer survivor, Griffin’s moxie, and perseverance make themselves known, a man filled with spunk and inspiring courage. Regarding the album’s subject matter, Griffin added,
“After I was out of the hospital and doing the Vicodin shuffle around the house in the summer of 2014, I started playing the guitar again mainly just to stave off boredom. I started to amass new little song embryos on my computer. Playing the guitar, staring at the screen. Eventually, the words and the music met.”
It becomes clear that Felsen wants real, human connection– not the companionship of gadgets. “Airplane Mode” dares to resolve to throw devices into a pool, yearning for face to face, not humans stuck on, well, airplane mode. The guts and grit of the band shine through in these moments, defying societal norms and asking for more of their peers.
There are softer moments on Blood Orange Moon, like the Van Morrison-esque “You and I Will Meet Again.” A dreamy pause from the steam engine of Felsen’s faster tracks, this acts as more of a cool down, an assurance of second chances and resolve. That’s the thing about Felsen– they have a way of acting as chameleons, capturing the full spectrum of human emotion in one album, reminding us that these are challenging experiences, yes, but ones that can bring us all closer together.