Recording information: Val's, Los Angeles, CA (07/15/2015).
Apparently hanging out with Ty Segall can have a powerful effect on a person. Laena Geronimo has played everything from the basic classical repertoire to girl group-inspired pop. But after playing some acoustic shows with Segall, she's drifted deep into the garage, and her new band Feels is the result. Playing scruffy garage punk with a veneer of psychedelia, Feels' self-titled debut album was produced by Segall, who makes the most of their buzzy guitars and layers of reverb. In Feels, Geronimo (guitar and vocals) is joined by Shannon Lay (guitar and keyboards), Amy Allen (bass), and Michael Perry Rudes (drums). Together, the musicians generate large clouds of dirty guitar and thick but nimble rhythms, captured by Segall with his usual complement of echo and grit. However, the songs here also have a genuine, engaging melodic bounce that shines through the murk. And one can hear Middle Eastern and world music influences in the soloing by Geronimo and Lay. This band may be reaching for a snotty, punk-approved tone, but the details show Feels are true internationalists in their musical approach. The dreamlike pace of "Today" and "Small Talk" helps bring forth the trippy aspects of these songs. And the harmonies are bright and executed with energetic skill. Sometimes the more imaginative aspects of Feels' approach seem slightly at odds with the harder-edged attack of the guitars and drums. But a real passion and vision are audible on all nine tunes. Ty Segall's influence may permeate Feels, but these musicians have enough ideas of their own to give this a compelling sound and personality of their own. ~ Mark Deming