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CD Review: Phineas and the Lonely Leaves 

Phineas and the Lonely Leaves The Kids We Used to Be
(2010, Independent)

If The Kids We Used to Be was a photo, it would be a faded black-and-white Polaroid taken by the obstinately precious indie darling Conor Oberst, caged in a patinaed frame, meticulously stained by the wistful alt-country of Ryan Adams. Such is the province of Hudson Valley-bred Timothy Feeney, who writes the songs, sings, and plays the acoustic guitar. Phineas and the Lonely Leaves are not as lo-fi as Oberst’s Bright Eyes, and in these days of Garage Band-y basement recordings lost on MySpace, it is rare to find such a wonderfully recorded, performed, and produced self-released album. Navigating the chasm between indie folk and adult-album alternative, engineer and producer Adam Rourke and Feeney have great ears and the ability to grasp and follow through on a complete and articulate artistic vision.

Rarer still, in a musicscape of EPs and iTunes singles, this is a true album; rock opera-like, with well-defined themes flowing seamlessly, determined and easy like the Hudson Valley streams surrounding the memories and emotions of the music. Treasures are awaiting, down the road and around the bend. While less specificity might garner broader appeal, summering Upstate New Yorkers will revel in the provincial references. The quaint vocals and subject matter bring a mostly endearing and valued immediacy to the song structures. Anyone who has been a teenager and experienced the newness and excitement of up-late freedoms on hot summer nights, of burgeoning dreams and adolescent innocence lost, and sex, cars, and beer will face-plant into the bliss and ache of nostalgia.
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