The Feelies, Hoboken's legendary and influential strum-groove rockers, kind of faded away a couple of years ago, eclipsed by the "alternative" explosion. Those still pining for that hot post-Velvets frenzy should find Wake Ooloo cause for celebration. Featuring ex-Feelies Glenn Mercer and Dave Weckerman, Wake Ooloo pick up the ball the Feelies dropped and blast off with it. On their debut Hear No Evil (Pravda), guitarist/vocalist Mercer, who always seemed to be trying to drive the Feelies faster and faster, pushes his new quartet with speed-of-light velocity, his fleet-fingered, strum-driven epiphanies consistently pushing heavenward. While drummer Weckerman takes on a few tunes with his frail warble, it's clearly Mercer's show, and he unabashedly continues with what concerned him in the Feelies, using the melodies as drop cloths to splatter with his possessed guitar rhapsodies.
The three women who make up New York's Shams use sweet, immaculate harmonies and sleek, gentle melodies to deliver Amy McMahon Rigby's poignant, funny lyrics, which deal with everything from lusting after a buff gas station attendant to slyly questioning male depth ("I know you can procreate / But can you truly conjugate?"). Their lush crooning gets spare, tasteful acoustic guitar and bass support, and the lithe, subtle result comes as both a refreshing break and soft treat. Versus and DQE (the subject of another Critic's Choice) open. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Edward Barron.