Just when I thought I heard every genre possible along comes The Feature Creeps. The Feature Creeps is a Rhode Island-based homemade project featuring songs written, performed and recorded by Tom Vale. On his recent album Just the Right Phantoms Vale essentially writes pop songs that are turned upside down, infused with 60’s pop, circus sounds and sometimes sound if they were songs from the band Sunset Rubdown (sometimes). Vale explains that the twelve songs on the album are about “escape, baristas, teenage surliness, demagogues, ghost encounters, bridge-burning, dance crazes and more,” which makes the album a unique and original lyrical endeavor. Besides the last song Vale keeps it short rarely eclipsing the three-minute mark. The songs are concise and he fits a lot in during the short durations.
The album starts off “Submarie,” which revolves around an organ that sounds like something you would hear at the sideshow circus. Organic, dry drums create the energy along with the delightful vocal harmonies he pulls out of his hat at the end of the song.
One of the most fun vertigo-inducing songs on the album is “Wayward Ho!” There is a good amount of dissonance in this song but it also contains varied vocal melodies, which were pretty inventive. Vale has original, intelligent lyrics. He sings “Better turn around it could be your last chance to see the sky. Get your head unburied or America will pass you by. Hey we're having….”
One of the highlights of the album is “I'll Pull the Wool” because of Vale’s strong vocal performance. The song has this old west salon vibe that was enjoyable. “Might As Well” sounds upbeat but oddly twisted at the same time while “Trouble Is I'll Probably Stay Around” is a sparse acoustic song that includes a Theremin.
The album closes with an eight-plus minute centerpiece called “Just the Right Phantoms.” It starts off slow, picks up speed and reminded me of the Decemberists. It was a good way to end the album.
While not every song on this album struck a chord with me Vale created an original, well-written album that is a testament to his talent.
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