Glenn Mercer

Wheels In Motion

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Wheels in Motion is the long-awaited solo album from former Feelies frontman Glenn Mercer. He has been quiet in recent years since disbanding Wake Ooloo, the group he led following the Feelies' demise in the early '90s. Wheels in Motion will sound agreeably familiar to the fans of those nerd-punk heroes. In fact, the album overall feels structured something like a Feelies tune. It starts subtly with the gentle, strummy opening number "Days to Come," but the tempo gradually builds with the succeeding tracks. On the second song, the title track, Mercer displays his distinctive guitar playing, balancing more guitar strumming with some dipping-and-soaring electric guitar work. His buzzy guitar playing gets showcased more prominently on the subsequent tracks: the bright, almost bouncy "Morning Light" and the darker "Into the Clear." The disc peaks with the magnificent "Whatever Happens." This tune, with its jagged, noisy guitars and Anton Fier's fierce drumming, most closely captures the classic Feelies' sound. The rest of the album's pace maintains this ebb and flow of strumming acoustic guitars and edgier electric guitars. "Two Rights" is a second half standout with its jangly, near-poppy sound. The disc concludes with a wonderful melding of two George Harrison songs: "Within You, Without You" and "Love You To" (a not surprising cover choice considering that the Feelies recorded several Beatles tunes during their lifetime). Mercer doesn't appear to be avoiding his past; he enlisted a handful of former Feelies colleagues (bassist Brenda Sauter-Barnes and drummers Fier, Stanley Demeski, Vinny DeNunzio, and Dave Weckerman) to back him up here. However, he doesn't attempt to fully re-create the Feelies sound. Mercer no longer is the "boy with perpetual nervousness." As he has matured as a musician, he has toned down his old band's "crazy rhythms" to create a sound that's more subdued but by no means mellow. While his solo outing may lack the Feelies' quirky dynamism or Wake Ooloo's garagey rock, there is shimmery fluidity to his music that makes it compelling in its own right.

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