Review: Fields, Everything Last Winter
The imagery is stark and wintery, the booklet is modeled on books published circa 1900, there’s acoustic guitars, flute-like instrumentation and massed harmony vocals. Sounds like neo-folk, folk-rock or some kind of austere alt-Americana, right? Sounds quiet, right? That’s what you think until the electric guitars come in and when they do, all bets are off. Those guitars rage and storm, shimmer and chime, and power this music like a jet engine shoved up a Hummer’s ass. The group is the Fields and they are one hell of an interesting band.
“Everything Last Winter’s” packaging gives you nothing about the band, but an internet search turns up the info that Fields are a five-piece from Birmingham, UK composed of Nick Peill (guitar, vocals), Thorunn Antonia (keyboards, vocals), Jamie Putnam (guitar), Matty Derham (bass, keyboards), and Henry Spenner (drums). “Everything Last Winter” is their first, and as far as I know, only album. Fields combines powerful multi-tracked vocal harmonies from Peill and Antonia, melodic songwriting, a driving rhythm section, neo-folk song styling and shoegazer guitars. Think Jesus and Mary Chain with an underlying interest in Pentangle rather than 60’s American pop, vocalists who can sing, and less of an interest in atonality and noise for noise sake and you’re in the ballpark. They’re a very distinctive band and I’m finding that the more I listen to them, the better they get.
The first thing that’s likely to strike you about Fields is their fondness for songs that move from acoustic openings to massive electric guitar wash endings. Tracks like “If You Fail, We All Fail”, “The Death”, and album-opener “”Song for the Fields” follow this pattern and the group does it extremely well. Then the vocals begin to make an impression. Peill takes most of the vocal leads with Antonia singing harmony and their voices work very well together. Antonia is especially adept at harmony and the edge she puts on Peill’s multi-tracked leads are often exquisite. Finally you notice how well the rhythm section holds it all together. Fields is a tight-knit band with a sound that’s different from most of the other indie-rock bands out there and the musical and songwriting chops to pull it off. They’re not so strong with hooks but “Schoolbooks” has one that is slow to take hold and relentless once it does.
A visit to the band’s website gives hints that Fields may be in disarray. I hope not. This is one of the most interesting new bands I’ve heard in months and “Everything Last Winter” is a CD that will stay in our rotation for a long time. I really want to hear more from these guys. Good stuff.
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