CD Review of Feed the Need by Feed the Need
Recommended if you like
Billy Joel, Ben Folds, the Beatles
Label
Blank Lane Records
Feed the Need: Feed the Need

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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U
sually when one is faced with the proposition of a “young musical group,” images of pre-manufactured pop nonsense or emo-ska punk hybrids rocking their hairstyles more than their own music come to mind. But what if I told you there’s a band comprised of four musicians still in their teens that’s creating some of the most genuine and honestly heartfelt music out there today? Please meet Feed the Need, a group hailing from Southampton, New York. This quartet is making music for the love of it, not for the attention or pie-in-the-sky ideas. The fact that their music is so good just makes them even more likable.

Feed the Need features brothers Matt and Josh King on guitar and keyboards, respectively, as well as sharing vocal duties, with Jake Terando on drums and Connor Waleko on bass. You’ll be forgiven if at first you glance at the CD and the critic in you throws up those red lights that may scream “beware – young rock band,” but as soon as you hear the first song, “Ride the Wave,” with Matt’s smooth, clean guitar chords and Josh’s tasty piano/keyboard work, you’ll find that these guys are doing something entirely different: playing a smart form of pop that is not so easily performed by the majority of young groups who often choose basic rock with a woe-is-us mentality.

In fact, it’s the overall purity of not only the music but also the genuinely optimistic lyrics the King brothers write that captures a teenage essence usually unheard of by pop groups in this age bracket. Yeah, these guys are singing about girls and feelings and the like, but it’s not dressed up in drama and the words don’t stretch for any scenarios or ideas that make the band sound like a group of posers trying to hitch onto the latest bandwagon. This fresh-faced approach is almost startling, mainly because the Kings have effectively tapped into that true teenage life vibe that anyone can appreciate, be they the same age or someone who’s been through those times already.

But let’s look at that music a little closer. Track three, “Without Words,” an instrumental number, showcases the talents of the band. At the guitar break, Matt King literally dishes out a solo that would make Santana happy. The tone is dead-on and the lines sound like something out of “The Game of Love” or any number of his recent hits. Drummer Jake Terando brings to mind the economical perfection of Ringo Starr, laying down that solid beat and never over-filling, but certainly standing out because of it.

On “In Flight,” the group does a scary approximation of the sort of music Steely Dan was making on their Countdown to Ecstasy and Pretzel Logic albums. And listen to Connor Waleko’s bass lines on “Sooner Than Later,” where he’s tossing about the fluidity of early McCartney as well as the tasteful Fernando Saunders. But again, these guys are never flashy or in your face with their skills; they merely let them naturally shine and allow the listener to pick up on their professional subtleties that set them apart from all the rest.

There are 14 tracks in all here, with two covers. The first, Sugar Ray’s “Someday,” is perhaps better than the original if only because it feels more genuine coming from a group of younger guys than it did Sugar Ray, who at that point made it feel like they were just doing that sort of song because they knew it would get them massive radio and MTV play. Then there’s the cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Let me say that I am in no way a huge U2 fan at all, but this version is terrific because the band makes it their own. At first listen, I didn’t even notice it was a cover, because it sounds so seamlessly integrated with the group’s originals. Matt King’s guitar playing is especially captivating here, and the simple-yet-perfect keyboard touches by Josh at the end of the track are the icing on the cake.

It will be interesting to see where Feed the Need goes from here. The guys are already working on a new recording of eight originals, so it’s apparent their work ethic hasn’t slowed down any. It would be nice if this band could remain untainted, just doing what they do and winning fans over with such enjoyable music. Each of these musicians is terrific and won’t have any trouble finding work if they do ever go their separate ways. So if you want to hear great music played by a group of guys with their sky being the limit, pick up this disc and remember what it’s like to be young again.

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