Optic Yellow Felt – Optic Yellow Felt (2013)

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Optic Yellow Felt takes the rangy concepts of folk and jazz and sparks it up with the complex emotional underpinnings of classic turn-of-the-1970s rock on this deeply involving — and yet utterly listenable — self-titled debut.

Recording in Sao Paulo, the group opens with the melancholy ruminations of “Don’t Bend,” before “Captain of the Sea” begins constructing an insistent propulsion. From the anthematic emotional tug of “Cup o’ Coffee” to the jangly “2U,” from the angular aggression of “Little Things” to slow boiling revelations of “Close to Sadness,” Optic Yellow Felt rattles along with an inventive purpose. Optic Yellow Felt then closes with “So Complex,” an all-too-brief, staggeringly confidential admission of doubt.

If it sounds, at times, a little like late-period to solo-era Beatles, well, there’s a direct connection there: Optic Yellow Felt was produced by Roy Cicala — who engineered every John Lennon album from Plastic Ono Band to Double Fantasy. But, like Optic Yellow Felt, Cicala didn’t relegate himself to one thing for very long — also working with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen over the years at New York’s legendary Record Plant.

There’s a similar sense of fizzy boundary-bursting inventiveness to this group, as brothers Victor and Lino Nader take sturdy singer-songwriter efforts and spice them up with dashes of offbeat sound courtesy of guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Eduardo Marson, pianist Nando Morsani, saxist Ricardo Pires and drummer Tiago B.

Together, they’ve created something that remains grounded, even as it defies easy definition.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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