Music Review: Kenny Feinstein, Loveless: Hurts To Love

Published on September 17th, 2013 in: Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Jemiah Jefferson

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It became a cliché, nearly a joke, the reverence that rock critics had for My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless album, a singular document of noisy, sexy, melodic weirdness that loomed large in reputation for the 20-plus years since its release. This year has seen several tribute albums to it, somehow all of them excellent, but this latest from Portland-based Kenny Feinstein wins additional points for freshness, sincerity, and an obsessive attention to detail that would undoubtedly please the notoriously perfectionist MBV frontman, Kevin Shields.

Much like his inspiration, Feinstein spent a lot of time creating this record, and the attention to detail shows. Lovingly crafted interpretations of seemingly every major sound that comprises the original album’s songs make for a treat for those of us who have spent wondering decades immersed in Loveless’s sounds, and may serve to create new fans of the source material.

Where MBV’s Loveless establish sound environments from infinitely affected, shimmering guitars and etherial voices, Feinstein gets to the true melodic heart of each expression but uses instead the more organic sounds of acoustic guitar and bass, harp, piano, fiddle, mandolin, and the gorgeous bluegrass unreality of pedal-steel. Instead of Debbie Googe and Bilinda Butcher’s half-diffident, half-dazed female vocals, Feinstein sings the majority of the songs himself in a shy, steady, vulnerable voice that somehow perfectly captures the spirit of longing, whether to understand one of the most sonically challenging creations of the twentieth century or the eternal mysteries of love.

A country-punk sadcore masterpiece, Feinstein’s debut solo album deserves a spot in heavy rotation at Portland’s cooler brunch spots (and the places that long to emulate them), the headphones of Valentines fans, and the spaces of all those who love achingly beautiful, sad-but-sexy melodies that have secretly always been as sweet (and straightforward) as those of sixties girl groups.

Loveless: Hurts to Love is now available on Fluff & Gravy Records.

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