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Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Song For The Fields

I’m tempted to criticize Birmingham, UK’s Fields for being yet another band with a generic, un-Googleable one-word name but in a strange way I can’t quite articulate, it’s a very fitting name for what they do – listening to them, it somehow just feels right.

They were in town this past Monday for a small gig at Revival that didn’t seem to be part of any particular tour. They were also up against a couple of other high-profile shows that same night and not having had much in the way of publicity leading up to it, there was only a modest audience in attendance but probably better than expected. I was there because though I had not heard a note of the band before the previous Friday, what I did sample of their website impressed the hell out of me after just one listen. Plus locals The Coast were added as support so I was fairly assured that it’d be a good show.

It’d been over five months since I last saw The Coast and in the interim, they’ve signed a record deal with Aporia Records and are re-releasing their self-titled EP next Tuesday. Their set was even better than the last time I saw them (read the linked review) though in the same ways, if that makes any sense. It was also good to hear them roll some new tunes into the mix, – They’re playing a free CD re-release show at the Ukula Store next Thursday (November 9). It’ll be worth checking out.

It’s worth noting that I didn’t have a copy of the Fields record, 7 From The Village, before the show. I’d only listened to the online stuff a few times before heading to the show so for most intents and purposes, seeing them onstage would essentially be my first impression of the band – and it was a damn good one. Building towers of sound on the foundation of Nick Peill’s acoustic guitar and bolstered by Jamie Putnam’s shoegazey guitar and Thorunn Antonia’s squalling synths, their set was compact but intense and wholly impressive – an opinion greatly reinforced when I got a copy of the CD yesterday. Considering that the band has only been together for a year or so, it’s a bit fearsome to think about how much better they’re going to get with time. They’re generating some considerable buzz back home and if you were one of the 40 or 50 people in attendance Monday night (rough guess), consider yourself lucky – I suspect they’ll be drawing far more than that the next time they visit.

As for the record, the EP/mini-album draws a line from English folk bands like Pentangle and Fairport Convention and weaves it through a tapestry of electro-tinged, psych-rock goodness. Over the course of seven songs (hence the title) and just 27 minutes, they cover a wide breadth of stylistic bases while maintaining a distinctive and cohesive sound that’s simultaneously ancient, modern and timeless. Some standouts are the barreling rock of “Song For The Fields” and the anthemic pop of “Brittlesticks” but this record is extraordinarily solid top to bottom and bodes very well for their first full-length, due out next Spring.

Photos: Fields, The Coast @ Revival – October 30, 2006
MP3: Fields – “Brittlesticks”
MP3: Fields – “Song For The Fields”
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”
Video: Fields – “Brittlesticks” (MySpace)
Video: Fields – “If You Fail We All Fail” (MySpace)
Video: Fields – “Song For The Fields” (MySpace)
MySpace: Fields
MySpace: The Coast

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Eric Bachmann gives the AV Club a look inside his iPod and what they find may shock and titillate you. Okay, not really – it’s folk singers and language lessons.

Torontoist interviews The Fiery Furnaces, also in town this past Monday evening.

np – Fields / 7 From The Village