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Live Gig Video: Field Music play four tracks in studio for Seattle radio station KEXP

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

In the midst of their recent North American tour, Sunderland brother duo Field Music stopped in at Seattle radio station KEXP to play a live set of four tracks from their latest LP release ‘Commontime’. The KEXP studio session took place on the 28th of March, coincidentally the same day that editor Mary’s live review of Field Music’s Washington, DC performance from a few days earlier posted here on TGTF.

The Brewis brothers, along with Liz Corney on keyboards and backing vocals and Andrew Lowther on bass, joined KEXP radio host Stevie Zoom and photographer Hanna Stevens for the late afternoon studio session, where they played new album tracks ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’, ‘I’m Glad’, ‘Disappointed’ and ‘Don’t You Want to Know What’s Wrong?’. Just below, you can watch the full 24-minute live set, which includes a brief interview at the midway point, and you can sneak a peek at Stevens’ photos from the session on KEXP’s Flickr.

TGTF’s previous coverage of David and Peter Brewis in the context of Field Music is right back this way.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/fS6LFmB3j40[/youtube]

 

Power to the Purple One: The Legacy of Prince

 
By on Monday, 25th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

2016 hasn’t been a good year for popular music. After losing hard rock great Lemmy before the end of last year, we lost David Bowie in January. The announcement last Thursday that Prince had been pronounced dead at Paisley Park was almost too much to bear. How on earth could a world that had only just starting to get back to normal after the loss of Ziggy Stardust lose another musical visionary?

On paper, Prince Rogers Nelson shouldn’t have become the legend we came to know. Based on conversations I’ve had in Britain and in the context of global superstars such Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and the late Michael Jackson, it may be hard for someone not of colour outside America to understand what I am about to say. We may be in 2016 now, but sometimes I feel like we’re still stuck in the ‘60s. For Prince to have overcome the average American public’s stereotypes of an African-American man and to be embraced for who he was and everything he had to say was, and still is, huge.

Back in the ‘60s, Elvis scandalised our nation – and the world – with what was then considered hypersexualised hip swiveling. Prince took what Elvis and Bowie did, and to many, many levels higher. Instead of tiptoeing around a man’s sexuality, he challenged society right in the face with what had previously been held sacred and behind closed doors. Prince said the kinds of things we all were thinking about sex but were too afraid to express. Tipper Gore was beside herself. And I’m sure it terrified her even further that the person who was blowing off the lid on sexuality and scandalising her white bread daughter was African-American. Years later, performing at the biggest show of American masculinity, Super Bowl XLI in 2007, and playing to thousands upon thousands of fans in that stadium and at home, he’d achieved acceptance in a way that no-one else had before.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NN3gsSf-Ys[/youtube]

Changing the norm is scary. So having Prince step out with his gender-bending falsetto and flamboyant outfits, as the poster child (er, man) for turning the ideal of what a man should be on its head, the value of his then-crazy notions on society and how they changed people’s minds cannot be overstressed. This is of course before we even consider his musical contributions to the world, including his mastery of and virtuosity on guitar that seems to fall by the wayside when considered alongside his outrageous, out-sized on-stage persona. Like Bowie, he was an incredibly talented and incredibly prolific songwriter. We now live in an era where women are having to defend themselves against men who want to control their artistic vision. Have we all but forgotten that Prince’s adoption of an unpronounceable symbol for his name was a stand against the corporate world and Warner Brothers, taking back control of his career for himself?

When I heard the news that Prince had died, there were several musician friends of mine who came to mind immediately, for their music has an indelible connection to him. As mentioned in my review of their newest album ‘Commontime’ that was released in February, Field Music came to the Purple One’s attention late last year, so much that he Tweeted about finding and appreciating their music. To help close out this article, I give you the kindly offered words of Peter Brewis:

I think he has influenced us from the very beginning in lots of different ways. I remember us aiming for a ‘Raspberry Beret’-type acoustic guitar part on a few songs from the first album in 2005 (their self-titled debut) and most recently there were ‘Parade’ (Prince’s eighth album) influenced jazz-orchestra codas on our last album. I suppose he will be remembered by many as the ultimate rock star showman, and admittedly the best gig I ever saw was him proving just that. But, for me, it was his abilities as a great, independent, music-making all-rounder that will always have an influence on me.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tklJdZzUB1Y[/youtube]

Prince was an outsider who made music that tapped into our primal musings, the musings deep down that we pretended we didn’t have but were just itching to let out. Like Bowie, he made it okay to be different and to think differently. Living in America, whether you were white or black or any other colour, you could like Prince and be included in the glittering, over-the-top dance party. Cheers to you, Prince. I hope you’re playing guitar like nobody’s business and smiling at the greatest rave in the sky.

 

Live Review: Field Music at DC9, Washington DC – 24th March 2016

 
By on Monday, 28th March 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s been a while since Sunderland’s Field Music have descended on my hometown. During their last visit – to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in Northeast nearly 6 years ago – I was in Philadelphia for this show. And while I did catch younger Brewis brother David’s solo project School of Language in Manchester in 2014, any fan of any Brewis-related music venture will tell you it just isn’t the same at all. So I was truly grateful we’d been included in the tour. Folks drove from as far as Alabama and Georgia in the Deep South to come up to this southernmost of the East Coast dates: talk about dedicated fans! That speaks to the quality of Field Music’s songwriting, that they’re worth the travel effort.

DC was the first of eight live dates for the band spread out over a fortnight in America, which included four shows each on either coast of our great nation. On this American tour, the brothers Peter and David are joined by Liz Corney (synths and backing vocals) and Andrew Lowther (bass guitar). Doing shows with a reduced lineup, compared to the much larger collective they can bring along when playing in the UK, has presented unique challenges for Field Music in the live arena, though except for a few errant mishaps that had nothing to do with their musicianship, there was little to fault in their show last Thursday night. Peter cited the unseasonably warm for March weather for causing him to lose his grip on one of his drumsticks due to sweaty palms, and the stage patter eventually de-evolved into a hilarious discussion with the crowd that if Field Music ever had the misfortune of playing in DC in July, he would not only lose his handle on his drumsticks but also lose his trousers (sorry, you had to have been there).

Peter Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016

From their atypical time signatures to almost always doing the unexpected, the brothers’ musical sensibilities have always been unique. Their music caught the ears of Prince late last year, leading to speculation that the Purple One has been watching arguably the best purveyors of North East funk all along. Indeed, ‘Commontime’, their latest album released last month on Memphis Industries, is a bracing, welcome cure for the winter doldrums, thanks to well-placed bass notes and their songs’ inherent catchiness. Naturally, given the timing of this tour, the set list Thursday night was heavy on ‘Commontime’ tracks, beginning confidently with the strident yet oh so infectious ’The Noisy Days Are Over’. Seriously, when was the last time you’ve heard such a joyous song about getting to middle age?

Longtime fans were rewarded with songs further back in the Field Music catalogue, including ‘If Only the Moon Were Up’ (introduced by David as “this is the first song on the first album…”) and ‘A House is Not a Home’ from 2007’s ‘Tones of Town’. Their 2010 two-disc album, colloquially known as ‘Measure’, also received a prominent acknowledgement when standout tracks ‘Them That Do Nothing’, ‘Let’s Write a Book’ and ‘Effortlessly’ received a rapturous reception from the audience.

David Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016

However, I keep going back to the newer, funkiest tunes still playing on repeat in my head. The herky-jerky ‘I’m Glad’ was a revelation live, because it’s exactly the kind of head-bopping song you’ll never hear on top 40 radio. Similarly, ‘(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing’, the band’s encore from their 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated LP ‘Plumb’, is the kind of thing you could be break out into randomly at work: you’d elicit strange looks but honestly, who cares? It was too crowded at DC9 to do so, but in addition to singing along loudly to it, I had a Four Tops-esque dance routine all organised for ‘Disappointed’, and it never happened. Someday…

God bless Field Music.

By the time of this review’s posting, local DC band The Effects will have supported Field Music on all four of their East Coast dates of this American tour (DC, Philadelphia [25 March], New York [26 March] and Boston [27 March]) before the West Coast leg of Field Music’s tour begins.

After the cut: Field Music’s set list.

David Brewis of Field Music at DC9, Washington DC, 24 March 2016 2

Continue reading Live Review: Field Music at DC9, Washington DC – 24th March 2016

 

Video of the Moment #2046: Field Music

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd March 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Field Music begin a 2-week tour of America tomorrow night and in my own hometown of DC. So yes, I’m a little excited! They seem to have predicted this reaction, as the start of their newest video, for single ‘Disappointed’, is filled with confetti. The song appears on ‘Commontime’, Peter and David Brewis’ latest studio album, out now on Memphis Industries. (I reviewed it back here in February ahead of their appearance at the 6 Music Festival 2016 in Bristol). If you get motion sickness, you might want to stick with watching this promo in a chair. Have at it below.

If you live in America, you catch the band on tour on either shore over the next fortnight (details here). For more on Field Music on TGTF (and yes, there’s quite a bit round here!), go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttvYmfAnZ30[/youtube]

 

(6 Music Festival 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: Field Music – Commontime

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Field Music Commontime album coverPeter and David Brewis are two intelligent guys who don’t sit still for very long. Or ever. Sometimes I wonder if they’re just musical vampires and don’t sleep at all. Last year, the composed soundtrack to the 1929 documentary Drifters that they were commissioned to compose by the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival was released to the wild. In 2014, while David was putting together his latest School of Language album ‘Old Fears’, his older brother Peter went off with frontman of Maximo Park Paul Smith for their own LP ‘Frozen by Sight’. Last year, I also saw them moonlighting as part of fellow Sunderland musician SLUG’s (Ian Black) backing band at the Great Escape 2015. So yes, while the last ‘true’ Field Music album was 2012’s ‘Plumb’, they haven’t exactly been sitting around the Good Apple Cafe, twiddling their thumbs.

The most noteworthy thing news-wise that’s happened to the Brewis brothers recently is Prince’s apparent discovery of them in early December. Evidently, the Purple One had a pleasurable head bop to the first single off of ‘Commontime’, ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’, just as we have had here at TGTF Towers. (You can read Steven’s thoughts on the single here.) The inherent catchiness of the melody, matched with the always intriguing percussion of Field Music, is great already. But what makes the song truly a winner are the lyrics, which I think most people are reading literally as the acceptance of “getting on”, growing older and eventually the end.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43wTJLg-De8[/youtube]

I can’t help but read it within my own as well as in a musician’s context: those of us who are long past our school days but still go out to shows (or play them), who don’t do normal things like take the bus and go to bed at an acceptable hour, are looked upon as oddities and weirdos. It’s not that we’re going out of our way to be weirdos. It just *is*. To me, the song is a statement that we’re not going to change our ways. Which is something I feel must be a credo for this pair of talented bros. Throughout this delightful 14-track collection of tunes, there’s satisfying elements of pop and funk, sometimes together on the same track, and this combination with incisive lyrics makes Field Music what they are.

The Sunderland duo have pretty much cornered the market in art rock these days, and they don’t show any signs of changing their tune (no pun intended). With the off-kilter drums and guitars – neither of which I can be sure could be said to be leading or following – and its almost spat out words, ‘I’m Glad’ is bonkers, and amusingly so. ‘Same Name’ seems like a bunch of things were thrown into a pot at once – jerky guitar notes, other bits of noodling guitar, atypical drum patterns, piano chord crashes – and somehow, otherwise cacophonous, disparate elements manage to play nice enough with each other to come together as a relatively cohesive song. The vocal delivery of the verses of ‘They Want You to Remember’ is pretty pop, gently reined in to accompany a beautiful string section. But then the oom-pah-pah rhythm of the chorus comes in, and you’re reminded we’re not in mainstream land. Which is perfectly fine by me.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWoVU7Zd894[/youtube]

The other day I heard a Charlie Puth song called ‘One Call Away’. It’s not a terrible love song – it’s what passes for MOR pop on American top 40 radio these days – but the lyrics are pretty groanworthy. Contrast them to those of ‘Disappointed’, in which our protagonist asks for forgiveness for minor offenses in the context of a long-term relationship that seems to be a Pretty Good Thing otherwise. On the ultra funky and album standout ‘It’s a Good Thing’, the merit of giving up your singledom and pulling away from the pretense of “being fixed to the ocean” is explored: “It’s a good thing to give yourself away. It’s a good thing to give yourself to someone else.” And perhaps I’m the only one, but I can’t help laugh to myself when on a Field Music album I’m being sung to with a particularly clever line. In ‘Don’t You Want to Know?’, the listener is asked, “don’t you want to know what’s wrong with you?”, as well as encouraged (or perhaps mocked) to “time to use your brain”. Can you imagine the look on a top 40 station boss’ face upon hearing that?

‘Commontime’ also marks the return of keyboardist Andrew Moore, who hasn’t appeared on a Field Music album since 2007’s ‘Tones of the Town’. His contribution of twinkly notes and organ buzzes are appreciated on ‘But Not for You’, ‘That’s Close Enough’ (in which the piano stands up to a ghostly guitar solo) and the instrumental bridge of ‘They Want You to Remember’, where they are particularly effective. As mentioned earlier, there’s also a string section that appears on some tracks of this album, adding a level of smoothness (dare I say maturity?) to the proceedings. But fear not, this is still a Field Music album through and through, so there is *plenty* of weird and wonderful stuff going on.

8/10

‘Commontime’, the new album from Sunderland brother duo Field Music, is out this Friday, the 5th of February, on Memphis Industries. The brothers and their band will be appearing at the 6 Music Festival in a fortnight in Bristol (all the details here), and they will begin a UK tour in the last week of February (live dates listed here). For more on Field Music on TGTF, head this way.

 

Video of the Moment #1971: Field Music

 
By on Tuesday, 8th December 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Sunderland brother duo Field Music have a new video out today – premiered at high noon earlier, no less! – for ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’, the first single taster from their upcoming sixth album ‘Commontime’, which drops in February. You can read Steven’s thoughts on the new single here; preorder the new album, and you’ll get an instant download of ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’.

In the promo, Peter and David Brewis are joined by their live bandmates and Wearside legend Grassi for a walkabout of the North East, complete with stops for sax solos. What do you expect from a band whose new single has been tipped – twice – by Prince, and they’ve lived to write about it for the Guardian? This video is so fresh, you can practically taste the warm chips from their styrofoam container. Watch the new promo for ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’ from Field Music below.

Stay tuned for ‘Commontime’, out on the 5th of February 2016 on Memphis Industries. You can catch Field Music on tour in the UK in February and March, right before they head out on a tour of America. We’ve written a fair bit on the duo on TGTF, and you can read all of our back archive on Field Music through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43wTJLg-De8[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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