The Wild Feathers
The Historic Grants Lounge at Grant's Lounge
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Making it ten years as a band is no small feat. And maintaining the raw passionof those early days hustling, playing small rooms and cramming into the back ofan old van is even rarer still. For the Wild Feathers, though, that passion has onlygrown with time, stronger now than when the beloved band first formed in 2010.Since then, the band has released three critically acclaimed studio albums, onelive album and toured with major acts like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, all whilecontinuously honing their singular blend of Southern rock, Americana roots andheartland pop.Now, the Wild Feathers are ready to pull back the curtain on their decadetogether with Medium Rarities, an eleven-song collection of previouslyunreleased music spanning each incarnation of their still-evolving career. DaveCobb and Jay Joyce both feature as producers on the collection, with theFeathers themselves serving as co-producers for much of the album. The bandwill independently release Medium Rarities on November 20th.In some ways, Medium Rarities is a product of the COVID-19 pandemic. When amajor tour with Blackberry Smoke was canceled in March, the band foundthemselves with unexpected time to reflect on their career so far. Joel King,whom Ben Dumas dubs the band's "archive master," started poking around harddrives of old music, and the idea of a rarities compilation began to take shape."We took the time to go through our vault, which is music, demos, covers we’vedone, b-sides — rare things we’ve never released," Ricky Young explains. "Wealways wanted to do something with it one day but we thought this was as gooda time as any."The time leading up to the pandemic was also one of major transition for the WildFeathers, making Medium Rarities something of a natural end point of the band'sfirst era. In early 2020, the band parted ways, as Young explains, with their entireteam: their record label, booking agency and management. They were ready tohit reset and start a new chapter right as the music industry was forced to hit anindefinite pause."We were in the beginning stage of rebuilding, and then there was thepandemic," Young says. "We were slowing building back up from the ashes.""We were actually three songs in to a new project," King adds. "So we put thosetracks on the rarities album. That was the end of an era. Medium Rarities wasmeant to be somewhat chronological, so that's why we added the final threesongs we recorded. The album kind of puts a bow on the first era of the WildFeathers, from 2010 to now."King explains that, while the band still has hard drives full of unfinished demos,all of the songs that the band chose for Medium Rarities were already finished.Some, like "Lose Yourself" and "To Be Gone" were b-sides to earlier projects(specifically s, for those tracks), having barely not made the cut onto final studioalbum track lists. Others were full-fledged covers, some recorded in the band'searly conversations with record labels at the beginning of their career."Choosing tracks for the albums was often a difficult process," Dumas explains."We could have easily switched one song out for another and the records stillwould have been as good. We believe in all of these songs as much as webelieve in the songs that made it onto records."Lead single and opening track "Blue" is one of those three covers. The band haslong found inspiration in the Jayhawks, and recorded the 1995 Tomorrow theGreen Grass cut as part of a demo package for record label mogul Jimmy Iovine.The Feathers' version, produced by Dave Cobb, maintains the anthemic spirit ofthe original recording, but showcases much of what has made the band sobeloved to its devoted fans: thoughtful arrangements that draw from roots,Southern rock and Americana; a penchant for infectious melody; and, of course,sweeping, multi-part vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Band or Tom Petty andthe Heartbreakers."Fire," "Goodnight" and "My Truth" round out the middle of the compilation, andall three tracks are new material the band wrote in the lead-up to their plans toexplore a new era of the Wild Feathers. "Fire," in particular, shows the band'ssonic growth, with its understated verse arrangement, sparkling production andarena-ready chorus. Harmony-drenched "My Truth" has its roots in a recentwriting retreat the band took together, and the song's lyrics ("I've been looking forthe answers / I can't find them on the news") connect a personal relationshipcurrent events. The band produced these new tracks themselves.Standout b-side "Marie" is a laid-back front-porch rocker that dreams of betterdays for a lover, its vulnerable lyric punctuated with chiming acoustic guitar andtwangy electric riffs. Young wrote "Marie" during sessions for the band's self-titleddebut album, and admitted to being surprised that the song didn't make the finaltrack list. "It's one of my favorites," he says. "I'll always play it if I do a solo show,or anything like that. I'm really glad it's made it onto this record."Medium Rarities opens up the possibility for future volumes," Young says. "Wethought it was a cool thing to do for ourselves, and especially for our fans. We’vealways been one of those bands that talks about having a true catalog, by everydefinition: live albums, box sets, double albums, b-sides and rarities albums —being music fans, and that’s what we are, that’s what you want from artists youlike. You want anything you can get your hands on. This is one more step we’veaccomplished."The Wild Feathers will finish out 2020 with a handful of live-streaming concertsand private events, including dates with Blackberry Smoke. They're currently atwork on material for a new album and plan to release new music in early 2021.
The Wild Feathers