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From Dreams to Dust

by The Felice Brothers

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Gojira Blume
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Gojira Blume This is nothing less than a masterpiece! I have tears in my eyes as I type man! Favorite track: We Shall Live Again.
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mrsligament Love this band. Like a musical journey through a Cormack McCarthy novel. Looking forward to seeing them play live again in London next year.
Yimmy Kil
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Yimmy Kil Anything by the Felice Brothers is golden to me and exactly what I needed at that time. My physical copy came in the mail on the 8th. I already have spun it about 10 times through. It kind of continues the Undress style as far as the songwriting goes but this one is more philosophical. Ian definitely does more talk singing on this album than others. James has three songs. Lots of horn, pedal steel and jaunty piano. We Shall Live Again is an Ian masterpiece. Celebrity X is a classic. Favorite track: Celebrity X.
Rob Rowley
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Rob Rowley The real deal. Favorite track: Jazz on the Autobahn.
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The sheriff disappeared he drove in a doomed corvette Helen was in the passenger seat eating melon and spitting out the seeds feeling happy to be alone but still turning a saxophone as cold as stone She said this is what the apocalypse will look like a tornado with human eyes poisoned birdbaths and torrents of chemical rain like the heads of state hyperventilating in clouds of methane sundown on the human heart, this is what the the apocalypse will sound like but it'll be loud as a mushroom cloud it'll sound like final jeopardy but somehow be ghostly like a glockenspiel like the testing of bombs or the tapping of stiletto heels it'll sound like JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ on the autobahn The sheriff disagreed he tried to make a distinction between death and extinction they stopped off at a place called hamburger heaven to grab a bite to eat but Helen had no appetite she just drank a 7 up while the sheriff tapped his coffee cup to a distant beat it won't look like those old frescoes , i don't think so there will be no angels with swords, no jubilant beings in the sky above and it wont look like those old movies neither no drag racing through the bombed out streets no shareholders will be orbiting the earth it will be hard to recognize each other through our oxygen masks the successful sons of business men will set their desks on fire while 5 star generals of the free world weep in the oil chocked tide it won’t sound like JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ on the autobahn They agreed to disagree they zoomed off in a doomed corvette the sheriff couldn't recall feeling this way his entire life as he drove through the principalities of unreality on the run with somebody else’s wife the heiress of Texas oil what is freedom he thought, is it to be empty of desire? is it to find everything I've lost or have been in search of or to return to the things is which there is no more returning does it feel like jazz? JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ on the autobahn
To-Do List 04:16
Wash all the pots and the linens Find a psychoanalist Go the bank and Deposit checks Sweep up the shattered dish Return everything that I’ve borrowed Change all the bloody gauze buy a spinach colored dinner jacket defy all natural laws oh Cancel Better homes and gardens oh Admire Gothic arches Become a lot more happy Build a maze of styrofoam Befriend an Unfortunate lunatic wail on a saxophone walk down the road into darkness Fall in an orchestra pit Have an affair in the provinces. Bring Flowers to the sick oh Find out whats killing the bees Oh proclaim a lasting peace Open the blinds, let the light in Stand in the amorous rays rise up in the name of liberty Throw out my Fascist berets Purchase balloons for the ballroom Buy some asparagus Buy a Harmonium And Powdered wig Buy after dinner mints. oh Buy head cheese and hock of ham Oh Become a Family man Finish the Wealth of nations Discover a Miracle drug Learn all Supreme Court justices names And Test The limits of love Acquire more Guilty pleasures Sit and Watch as the plague goes by Wash the Hot fry stains from my hands And laugh until I cry Oh Throw out all the songs I wrote Oh and Buy a buckskin coat
Sometimes it just works Before I even begin Some words make it worse But I’ll say a few things If you can die It will be alright There’s nothing but starlight All the way down Now that’s said, I’m so excited To introduce you To you And to a taste of the light There’s no one to pray to Because you know who made you And you can just ask me You are the union Of an ape in an apron And a break in the clouds No method invented There no sharp enough weapon To cut that part out Whether you’re born or just theorized You’re still nothing but starlight All the way down
Money Talks 05:35
Money talks with a voice as shrill As the hiss of a chemical spill down the alleys of Pleasantville On a summers day Money talks like a dial tone the suicide and the open phone affordable suburban homes by a starlit lake MOON STRUCK VAMPIRES OF EDEN Trick tock goes the doomsday clock hysterics in the bridal shop Boom boom go the bells of doom I hear them chime Everyone just shop till you drop there’s not much time Money talks with a voice of fear panic buttons and riot gear From a mansion of frozen tears In a cul de sac Money talks In bible verse, And when the markets go bad to worse It Makes a billion when the bubble bursts and don’t look back MOON STRUCK VAMPIRES OF EDEN
Be at Rest 02:51
Mr. Felice, 6’ 148 lbs , soft teeth, sleep deprived, below average student. Owner of 2 ill-fitting suits Wearer of hand me downs Often lukewarm, withdrawn bathrobe often loosely tied Be at rest my friend Never once named Employee of the month Lover of 24 hour laundromats Avoider of eye contact Avoider of Blood drives Be at rest my friend Worked every night club in America Had a fear of Falling pianos Now exists in The interval between being and illusion In the saddle of a phosphorous horse A Patron of Snow cone carts Semi proficient at Long division Once spent over 2 months Stuck in a painting by Bruegel the elder Be at rest my friend The hearse has been cleaned and polished His body has been prepared for entombment the guest book left open The Funeral parlor pillows have been fluffed To his son he leaves a cloudless sky, One pair of ill fitting shoes to his wife a draw of undeveloped negatives a bowl of onion soup From dreams to dust
Valium 04:33
I'm at a motel on the border of Utah and Colorado theres an old John Wayne movie on, i think its John Wayne a bride is being carried away on horseback and into the darkening horizon the soft murmur of strings and the lowing of distant cattle is like valium for the national conscious Valium valium In this warmly beating heart Warmly beating heart my happiness is touch and go like this motels HBO I've been laying here flipping through the channels a presidential debate a split second later, a picture perfect dinner emerges from an oven That rattle snake never stood a chance against the likes of Annie Oakley Annie Oakley Annie Oakley In this warmly beating heart Warmly beating heart the night is too quiet to sleep and so I’m standing now in the dust of the road contemplating heaven I must have been lost on some kind of excursion up the Colorado I think her name was Marilyn but i remember nothing else about her except that her hair smelled of gunpowder thats it for tonight signing off Marilyn Marilyn In this warmly beating heart Warmly beating heart
Inferno 03:41
We were 17 hoping for better things Like worms waiting for wings and high school rings Fight club was sold out We went to see inferno instead You said I never even heard of it But I liked karate kid Who’s that riding on the banks of the rio grande Its jean Claude van dam Its jean Claude van dam I can’t make sense of this Why some memories persist Halfway through we left And shared a cigarette I cant go home The way is dark and overgrown Though your hands in my hand I fail to understand Who’s that singing in the land of the falling rain I Think its Kurt Cobain I Think its Kurt Cobain Who’s that singing in the land of the falling rain I Think its Kurt Cobain I Think its Kurt Cobain In this recurring dream 2 swans on a rushing stream Things are seldom as they seem In a fevered dream Into the fire Into the fire they go Far from the world they know Into the fire they go
Silverfish in my soap dish Perfectly designed to be unpleasant to find Garden ants the size of graduates My how you have grown Centipede makes my girlfriend scream It literally arrived tonight to ruin my life! Paper Wasps stole my parking spot I’m aware now thats there home I gotta do something I gotta do something My Honda Fit’s got mice in it The biggest investment of my life’s infested with mice My mom feeds raccoons, they live on the roof Of the house where I was raised Some guy from Leeds sends my girlfriend memes One literally arrived as I was writing this line A red tailed hawk ate my neighbor’s dog Just carried her away I gotta do something I gotta do something I gotta do something I gotta do something I know what it is It’s killing I know what it means And it’s killing me
Celebrity X 05:37
on the night that celebrity X confesses her love for celebrity Z by the dark brooding sea in a velvet armchair she sits and from the terrace celebrity Y can be seen passing by on Peter Fonda’s Harley That he rides to the sea with celebrity V electrical storm, and the flash of a silver knife and celebrity u is with W’s wife as he leans in for a kiss on a moonlit precipice while celebrity R’s in a train station bar And in the Bar back mirror sees a heartsick celebrity T and her eyes like a dart go straight through his heart Fast-forward that evening To the party of celebrity P now she's feeding him snails with her long painted nails but let us go to celebrity O who is drinking a sherry with a tall emissary and he’s pressing the keys and the sad melodies resound and his eyes on an artifact fall dated sometime between, the mid and late byzantine he excuses himself draws close to the shelf now celebrity N asks a downcast celebrity M if her marriage is hell to celebrity L while celebrity J by a fountain of deathly gray is watching spiders sashay with celebrity K Now the rain is cascading, and the moonlight is fading, and celebrity I is out masquerading where young supermodels are out shooting empty bottles with celebrity H by a swan haunted lake Meanwhile at the mansion the maid is in search of comet to clean up the Champagne and the vomit of celebrity G who's just learned of the double death of celebrity e and celebrity f Now she falls at the feet of oblivious celebrity D engaged in a debate on which role he should take the lead in an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s the double or a live action Barney Rubble meanwhile celebrity C is rattled awake by a monstrous quake and celebrity B from a dark balcony descends a suicide note is found in the coat of celebrity A in a dark cabaret and its sealed and addressed to celebrity X
In the land of yesterdays I’m gone fishing in a velvet haze in the land of yesterdays Red carnations in a plastic vase in the land of yesterdays Shadows are falling on a tender plain hey little kid come in from the cold, your father is sick and your things must be sold an orphanage sits in the snow Of a winter you lost long ago they teach the girls sewing and cooking and baking they teach the boys hunting and money making the mission bells toll on and on and lead us to days that have gone in the land of yesterdays I’m running blindly after neon trains in the land of yesterdays the moon like fire in the horses manes in the land of yesterdays shadows are falling on a tender plain you can never return you can never return you can never return that island has burned
I send money to missionaries My rent situation’s officially scary I smoke cigarettes By my grandma’s grave I mix more medications Than mixed martial arts fans live in basements I talk shit When I’m afraid But I watched you blow him apart Like a meteor They’ll find pieces of that boy’s heart When they get to mars I took to the streets I learned from busking My technique is worse than disgusting You can teach yourself anything I’m the living proof I got laughed at by future starts They get their masters from Juliard I learned to sing In a chicken coop And I watched you Burn him alive He just looked amazed They’ll be washing That boy’s pride Off these streets for days
i boarded the pullman somewhere east of council bluffs I've been riding this train to the west now for so long that i cant remember when the clouds are at the winds command a great extinction is close at hand But we shall live again We shall live again We shall live again though our religions the same as the pigeons from Francis of Assisi to the fans of ac/dc we all shall live again the nightingales were seized with a panic as warplanes flew ore the green Atlantic but the day was fair beyond compare And the long parade, and the serenade We shall live again we shall live again We shall live again we’ll be painting roses, with grandma Moses and we’ll feel just as free and young, as those flowers that we stand among and we shall live again this train is like an endless parade and it passes by each and every home in each and every town and the women and children and the men they hover to the windows and to the doorways some hop on board some wave farewell or weep at the beauty of the crossing bell But we all shall live again i been most of these motels on the edge of reality and I've even rode my donkey over the mountains of Argentina some die on the steppes of a frozen wasteland some OD on the road to Graceland But we shall live again we shall live again we shall live again i find these truths to be self evident in this life where any joyful thing is paid two fold in suffering we shall live again the train pressed on under nights crumbling wave, though dreamlike districts of the vanished days a dead man falls from a trotting horse the rivers run backward to their ancient source But we shall live again the dinning car is filled mostly with victorian era ghosts and some sharpshooters firing at angels like started ducks on the horizon but you're with me when i close my eyes giving alms to trembling palms Your eyes so green and labyrinthine remember Hegel, that beautiful son of a bitch or Marcel Proust you thought he ruled the roost he’s drinking a drink thats black as ink watching a candied cherry sink its like the sorrow of the world distilled We shall live again We shall live again all the great nations of the western plains there will be no more anguish and no more fear no more bloodshed on the red frontier and we shall live again the wind took my train up into the chasms of the sky and in the air hung a golden trumpet some warn of heaven and its narrow gate The baby angels are armed and overweight As They float above the turnstile and sing You shall live again You shall live again this world is ours and all the stars its like the frosting on the cake of death and the only word that rhymes is breath because we shall live again


Ruminating on the risks of taking things for granted in our daily lives, Ian Felice, the lead singer/songwriter of The Felice Brothers, expresses how meaningful the experience of playing music with his band has been after long months of social distancing. In From Dreams to Dust, their eighth and most recent studio album, out September 17th on Yep Roc Records, the band’s exuberance to be together doing what they do so well is palpable. Characteristic of The Felice Brothers, the new tracks are a mixture of somber tunes with ones that are musically upbeat, all the while carrying messages that beg listeners to think deeply about the environment, humanity, legacy, and death. Many of the songs depict the passage of time, nostalgia, transience and getting older. For songwriter Ian Felice, there must also always be a current of hope in the music.

“I want for my music to do what the best music in my life has done for me,” explains Ian. “I want to do that for other people—to help them think through hard times or think through how to communicate something they didn’t know how to; to just make them happy. This may sound ironic, because my music is kind of dark sometimes, but the music I love best is just the most hopeful music like Pete Seeger singing about humanity getting along or Michael Hurley music that connects to some childlike simplicity that makes you feel light and happy. Music is a medicine. It can make our time on the planet a little more enjoyable.”
The Felice Brothers, Ian (guitar and lead vocals) and James (multi-instrumentalist and vocals), hail from the Catskills, NY, where their early songs echoed off subway walls and kept company with travelers and vagrants. Their current lineup, with the addition of bassist and inaugural female Felice member Jesske Hume (Conor Oberst, Jade Bird) and drummer Will Lawrence (also a singer/songwriter) as their rhythm section, promises to be the best yet.
Nathaniel Walcott (trumpet) and Mike Mogis (pedal steel player) act as an accompaniment throughout the tracks, the latter of whom mixed From Dreams to Dust, which was produced by The Felice Brothers.

A folk-Americana-rock-country band with deep roots in varied genres, The Felice Brothers are what Rolling Stone lauds as “musician’s musicians” and poets. Indeed, Ian has proven his pedigree as a poet with the publication of his limited-edition collection of poetry Hotel Swampland (2017).

They are known by fans for their catchy tunes like “Frankie’s Gun,” “Love Me Tenderly,” “Cherry Licorice,” and “Lion” and, more recently, 2019’s “Undress” and “Special Announcement,” but they offer much more than a great sound. Seamlessly interweaving bizarre catalogues of literary and pop-culture references with vivid portrayals of life and its kaleidoscope of tragedies and hopes, their lyrics and dazzling musical accompaniment not only sound good but demand introspection. Some of the themes that run through their music, as Ian states, “are perennial” and are centered around “searching for something or transformation.” Others explore “characters trying to achieve some ideal they’re striving for” or who are “being weighed down by reality.”

Their latest in this tradition is their opening song, “Jazz on the Autobahn,” a piece marked by its explosive sounds that invite us to join in the merriment of the maypole in the midst of uncertain futures. The song displays Ian’s talent for switching from his smooth narrative voice to singing in his vintage, rich tone. Jesske’s adept bass strumming, accompanied by Will’s rhythmic drumming, act as a pulse, pleasantly complemented by James’s melody on the piano. Together, along with the wailing trumpet, The Felice Brothers are mesmerizing. The band’s cohesiveness in this opener and the brilliant synthesis and harmonizing of voices and instruments reflects the members’ varied talents as well as their unified vision.
Detailing the story of Helen and The Sheriff who are driving together in a “doomed Corvette,” “Jazz on the Autobahn,” Ian explains, is about a couple of people who have “left behind their entire lives in search of something but are haunted by a feeling of looming catastrophe, and the two souls are adrift in uncertain times, trying to understand their own feelings, hopes, and desires.”

As he has throughout his career with The Felice Brothers, Ian harnesses the dissonance of life to produce music that is at once musically inspiring and conceptually sophisticated. He works through the difficult realities of life as a way to, at least temporarily, end at a more life-affirming state.

“I just have strange emotions and things I don’t understand. Sometimes when I write, it helps me work through the ways I feel,” Ian explains. “I want it to be about art.” These two mutually informing needs, that of wrestling with the emotional and psychiatric impacts of living in a world saturated with tornadoes, mushroom clouds, chemical rain, poisoned bird baths, worsening markets, greed, earthquakes, and war, and creating artistic productions that offer us what Ian calls “digestive realities,” define two notable aesthetic principles that characterize Ian’s songs and all of the tracks on From Dreams to Dust.

Ian wants his songs to do for others what his favorite songs do for him, which is to help listeners get through hard times. “The greatest thing,” he states, “would be for people to be inspired by our music in a positive way.” But for Ian, doing so involves not turning away from adversities but rather requires facing harsh truths for the purpose of nourishing us with these digestive realities that might help us work productively through otherwise demoralizing and debilitating prospects. Thus, as the speaker of “To-Do List” writes a plan, or perhaps a bucket list, as “the plague goes by,” the speaker resolves to “Befriend an Unfortunate lunatic” and “Bring Flowers to the Sick” as well as absorb the light from the “amorous rays” of the sun.
The songs in From Dreams to Dust ask us to pay close attention to Ian’s narrative techniques and literary devices, transforming his songs into poetry and short stories. “Ian is so good about taking poetry, novels, folk art, and a huge wealth of artistic knowledge and metabolizing those things into music that is never academic or stilted but feels so alive,” explains James on his brother’s literary prowess.

Indeed, in “Valium,” Ian transforms the mundane life of the speaker, whose “touch and go” happiness is as fleeting and insubstantial as the channel surfing he does in a “motel on the border of Utah and Colorado,” into a commentary on “the national consciousness.” Ian conveys what he refers to as “the tragic idealization of the American west” that the US public uncritically consumes through John Wayne and Annie Oakley clips, and which elide the violence of colonial legacies. With a little help from the rest of the band’s incantations and the mournful sound of the pedal steel guitar, a feature that permeates the album and gives it a beautifully haunting quality that leaves one wanting to join in with howls, the song ultimately revives the souls of those former inhabitants of Colorado and Utah in the midst of the speaker’s preoccupation with his own “warmly beating heart.”

James too shines on From Dreams to Dust with “All the Way Down,” a song that focuses on artificial intelligence and, as he puts it, the transformation “from dust (or starlight) into something that can dream” and “Silverfish,” a piece that lists the external forces encroaching upon the speaker’s physical and social space, displacing him and unraveling his life as he helplessly repeats “I gotta to do something.”

While the band has recorded previous albums in studios, they also have a tradition of leaving the comforts (and restrictions) of the studio to record their music in unconventional spaces. Their first album was recorded in a leaking old theater in New York. This was the place where James learned to record. “It was awesome,” says James, adding that the band recorded the self-titled album The Felice Brothers in an old chicken coop. If we take James’ words from “Blow Him Apart,” James also “learned to sing / In a chicken coop,” a fact that speaks to The Felice Brothers’ embrace of their working-class roots and their commitment to remain raw, to merge the sacred simplicity of their recording process with the sophistication of their lyrics and musical sound. As Rolling Stone notes, “the band has, from its inception, prioritized self-definition” and, I would add, creative freedom.

“I’d rather be in a space where there is no time limit and if you break anything, it’s no big deal,” says James, whose tenure with The Felice Brothers has included many raucous performances. In the earlier years, until such an approach led to much broken equipment, The Felice Brothers invited audiences to join them onstage, and they have been known to have fans break out into impromptu performances in their live shows. These different manifestations of The Felice Brothers say as much about their humility as artists as it does their artistic principles.

“I want to continue recording in strange places that feel like home, that feel like ourselves,” continues James. The Felice Brothers have found their new recording home in an 1873 church that Ian renovated. Though the church had fallen into disrepair, Ian admits it was always his dream to use it. Feeling lucky to have acquired the property, Ian spent a few months renovating the approximately 30x40, one-room church. He put in new flooring, and The Felice Brothers would go on to record From Dreams to Dust in this new, old, and now hallowed, place. Considering the band’s history in unconventional spaces and the pandemic they have weathered apart, the renovated church represents Ian’s, and The Felice Brothers’, enduring commitment to friendship and music and to finding beauty, and hope, in unexpected places.

The restored church, like From Dreams to Dust, also reflects the Felice Brother’s unrelenting efforts to continue rebuilding in the wake of life’s decomposing cycles. Though perennially conscious of life’s treachery and our troubling ecologies, which we seem, as James remarks, “so ill-fitted to interact with,” The Felice Brothers constantly remind us that life’s mysteries are still worth pondering and, in so doing, offer us the blueprint for helping rebuild our lives after they collapse. As James sings in “All the Way Down,” whether we are “the union / Of an ape in an Apron/And a break in the clouds” or “nothing but starlight / All the way down,” we are alive and inhabiting this strange space together. Ian’s poetic final song, “We Shall Live Again,” assures us that even “in this life where any joyful thing / is paid two fold in suffering / we shall live again.” The phrase Dreams to Dust, then, may represent the deterioration of some hopes such as in the case of the two characters in “Inferno” who are consumed by the fires in a “fevered dream” and decaying lives as “some die on the steppes of frozen wasteland” while yet others “OD on the roads to Graceland” in “We Shall Live Again,” but, Dreams to Dust also offers us the sacred ashes with which we might enrich the earth by scattering. That is, the Felice Brothers bequeath us the matter with which we might cultivate life and teach us the words, like chants, that offer the power to heal.


released September 17, 2021

Produced by The Felice Brothers
Engineered by James Felice and Nate Wood
Mixed by Mike Mogis
Recorded at The Church in Harlemville, NY
Mastered by Nate Wood
All songs written by Ian Felice and James Felice (BMI)
Cover Painting, “Winter Sunday In Norway Maine,” by an unknown artist is used courtesy of Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
Graphic Design by Nathan Golub

The Felice Brothers are:
Ian Felice - voice, guitar
James Felice- voice, piano, keyboards, accordion
Jesske Hume- voice, bass
Will Lawrence- voice, drums, percussion

Guest musicians:
Mike Mogis- Pedal Steel on “Valium, silverfish, and “Blow Him Apart.”
Marxophone on “All The Way Down”
Nate Walcott- Horns on “Jazz On The Autobahn” and “The Land Of Yesterdays”


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