Bad Radio Review

Photo by D. T. Alexander

Each song is winter in the sense that it’s a dying of some sort,” Felly explained in a recent interview promoting his latest project. The album, Bad Radio, follows the artist/producer’s prolific body of work since his ambitious 2014 mixtape, Waking up to Sirens. The project is Felly’s first independent record since parting ways with 300 Entertainment and was released on his own label, 2273 Records.

Born Christian Felner in Trumbull, Connecticut, Felly began pursuing his passion
for making music at an early age, releasing music while still attending high school. He continued that pursuit at the University of Southern California (USC), where he studied music and founded 2273 Records with fellow USC scholars Jake Standley and continued collaborator, Gyyps.

Bad Radio is a noticeable departure from most of the artist’s previous efforts. On this opus, Felly trades in the bombastic braggadocio of 2014’s “Milk & Sugar” and the laid-back confidence that oozes from 2015’s “This Shit Comes in Waves,” for a more restrained approach—folksy, pared-down arrangements and introspective lines. Felly not only produced all eleven tracks on the record, but he also played most of the instrumentation.

On intro, the chatter of a detuned radio trails the discordant sounds of boots in the snow, wind gusts, and a car’s ignition stuttering before it starts. Felly describes the mood of the album as “a man leaving the comfort of a relationship and going out on his own into solitude—into the cold of the world”. The intro segues into the jaunty, alt-rock title-track and lead single. The song chronicles Felly’s winter journey, ‘Long ways to go/ Daylight low/ I wonder if I’ll get there,’ the artist ponders in his self-imposed isolation. The chorus provides little clarity, ‘There’s nowhere to run now, that you’re all by yourself/ What a feeling.’ All the while the song is a non-stop bop.

‘Oh, how I’d love
to get you high
and take a look inside’

‘Oh, how I’d love to get you high and take a look inside,’ Felly ruminates wistfully on the beautifully arranged “Nothing Ordinary.” Without missing a beat, the up-tempo, no tears left to cry sits atop a lo-fi, folk-pop beat, with the artist recalling sipping whiskey by the fire, where tall trees were his choir and ‘wherе it’s quiet enough to hear my hearts desires’ but concludes, ‘nothing hurts anymore/ And my eyes are dry.’

Photo by D. T. Alexander

This detour from his definitive Mac Miller-esque flows and the return to the basics is laudable, but at times the project falters where Felly usually shines – in his versatility and range. Felly has a natural knack for merging different genres into something fresh and unique, like on the transcendental single “Fresh Water,” from Bad Radio’s most recent predecessor, Young Fel 2.

After a mere twenty-four minutes, the wintery drive screeches to a halt with “Son of a Gun,” a foot-stomping folk track in the style of The Lumineers, with an invitation, ‘Dance with me…Put your hands on me.’ The song fades out and into the spooky official closer, “In the meantime (outro),” where Felly laments, ‘I can’t get you off my mind/ Stuck in the meantime.’ G&S

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