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Single Review: Field Music – The Noisy Days Are Over

 
By on Thursday, 5th November 2015 at 1:00 pm
 

Ten years after releasing their debut album, Field Music are still able to craft the perfectly structured art rock we’ve come to expect from them. ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’ is the first release from their sixth record ‘Commontime’, due out the 5th of February 2016. The Sunderland-based band, comprised by brothers Peter and David Brewis and joined by friends live, show us that getting old is a rite of passage and not a necessary curse in this track, an ode to leaving behind the days of late nights and drinking in excess.

With their almost angelic harmonies, groove-inducing rhythm section and Strokes-esque guitar tone and style, mixing with what can only be described as a sprinkling of saxophone, this is a track that sounds contrary to its message, making you want to get up, go out and move. There are very few artists, if any, that are producing songs that are this well composed, using chord sequences that aren’t necessarily orthodox to create an off sound that works better than it should.

Culminating in an outro that utilises some more of that saxophone, along with some minor key piano, it’s almost the musical equivalent of the end of the night: mildly chaotic in the best way possible, until you’re left on your own as the drums are left playing us out. Field Music certainly have a talent for creating catchy and large choruses, and ‘Noisy Days Are Over’ – which is the perfect kind of musical return for any band – is essentially a starter pack for anyone who may not have heard of the band previously. When released, ‘Commontime’ should be a nice little addition to their discography, further cementing the fact art rock will always be a part of the musical spectrum, no matter where the genre sits in people’s minds.

7.5/10

‘Commontime’, the new and sixth album from Sunderland’s Field Music, is scheduled for release on the 5th of February 2016 on Memphis Industries. It will be available on limited edition two 180-gram green vinyl plus download code, CD and digital download formats; the first 250 physical orders include an exclusive signed print. If you preorder now, you’ll get a free, instant download of ‘The Noisy Days Are Over’. Field Music are touring in support of their new album in February and March; for more information on that tour and all of our coverage on the band, go here.

 

Field Music / February and March 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 30th September 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo by Julien Bourgeois

Sunderland art rock band Field Music have announced a list of live dates for early next year, starting off with two nights at the Cluny in Newcastle on the 25th and 26th of February.  Led by brothers Peter and David Brewis, the band assures its fans that this tour will be “original recipe, undiluted, full strength Field Music”, as opposed to the variety of other projects the brothers have been involved in since the 2012 release of their fourth album ‘Plumb’.

Tickets for the following shows will be available beginning this Friday, the 2nd of October, at 9 AM.  TGTF’s extensive previous coverage of Field Music can be found back here.

Thursday 25th February 2016 – Newcastle Cluny
Friday 26th February 2016 – Newcastle Cluny
Sunday 28th February 2016 – York Duchess
Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Cardiff Globe
Friday 4th March 2016 – Exeter Phoenix
Saturday 5th March 2016 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 10th March 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 11th March 2016 – Manchester Band on the Wall
Sunday 13th March 2016 – Glasgow CCA
Friday 18th March 2016 – London Islington Assembly Hall
Saturday 19th March 2016 – Southampton Engine Rooms
Sunday 20th March 2016 – Brighton Haunt

 

School of Language / April 2014 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 30th January 2014 at 5:00 pm
 

School of Language – the name of the solo project of David Brewis from in the critically lauded Sunderland duo Field Music in which he plays with his brother Peter, as pictured above – will be touring as a band in April in the UK. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday the 31st of January) at 9 AM.

Stream the newest song from David’s project, ‘Between the Suburbs’, below the dates. Like everything he’s done solo or with his brother, it’s incredibly inventive and brilliant.

Monday 7th April 2014 – Newcastle Cluny
Tuesday 22nd April 2014 – Bristol Exchange
Wednesday 23rd April 2014 – London Lexington
Friday 25th April 2014 – Glasgow Broadcast
Saturday 26th April 2014 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Monday 28th April 2014 – Manchester Deaf Institute

 

Split Festival 2012: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 1st October 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Missed Martin’s field report of the Saturday of Split Festival? You’re in luck; read it here.

Where Saturday at Split Festival 2012 was noisy in the main tent and more subtle in the other, the situation is roughly reversed on Sunday. Field Music turn in a lithe, precise set on the main stage. Since this writer has, more by coincidence than anything else, seen them four times this year so far, I can safely say that they are better every time, and have never played the same set twice. A hometown gig is always a bit more special, and the crowd are duly appreciative.

Saint Etienne’s comeback continues apace – Sarah Cracknell looks glorious, her sparkly mini-dress picked out by a central spotlight, and she sounds just as good. In a set heavy with material from this year’s ‘Words and Music’, the synth-pop sound is just as present and correct as in years gone by. The volume and tempo is gently increased as we proceed, Cracknell elegantly gyrating, flourishing a feather boa. Close your eyes, and new songs like ‘When I Was Seventeen’ can make you believe it’s 1992 again; Neil Young has never sounded as warmly glorious as when they cover ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’.

A guilty candy-floss pleasure compared to the gristle of Future of the Left, whose noisy Welsh surrealist punk deafens everyone in the small tent. Andy Falkous, drenched in sweat, screams out such deadpan masterpieces such as ‘Sheena was a T-shirt Salesman’ and ‘Failed Olympic Bid’. The humour perhaps isn’t immediately apparent, but the skit climax, “if Margaret Thatcher was alive I’d ask her what her favourite film was” surely clinches the deal.

What’s the point in running a festival if you can’t headline it yourselves? After last year’s absence, The Futureheads are back with what is essentially a greatest hits set. They kick off with the superb ‘Beeswing’ from this year’s a capella album ‘Rant’; four-part harmonised vocals have always been an essential part of the ‘heads sound, but this song, shorn of any instrumentation, demonstrates just how accurate and heartfelt they can be with just four voices.

But it’s not long before the electric guitars come out, and the band rattle through the best bits of their back catalogue, climaxing with a majestic ‘Hounds of Love’. The audience are enraptured throughout, as well they might be: this event is more than just another show, it’s a celebration of Sunderland, its people and its music. And on the evidence of Split 2012, Sunderland is in very rude health indeed.

 

Album Review: Field Music – Field Music Play…

 
By on Monday, 1st October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Not satisfied with releasing one of the albums of the year, garnering a well-deserved Mercury Prize nod along the way, Field Music are treating their fans to a covers-only release. The sound is consistent with their original material, that is to say with a heavy ’70s influence, complete with thuddy bass, crashy drums, and plenty of harmony vocals. The material is admirably varied: the Syd Barrett obscurantism of ‘Terrapin’ is a brief shock of an opener, ‘Born Again Cretin’ introduces swathes of new fans to Soft Machine stalwart Robert Wyatt, and Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Heart’ is the first of two tracks direct from Wallsend Boys’ Club, sumptuously rearranged for live band and duly reverential lead vocal.

The beauty of a covers collection is two-fold: to hear a band you love perform others’ songs gives a deeper insight into their own talent for arrangements, their voices and instruments guided by another’s hand; to hear songs from another era which have been otherwise loved to death, resurrected by a contemporary outfit, is equally as rewarding.

Roxy Music’s ‘If There Is Something’ (stream below) segues nicely into Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’, which loses nothing of the original’s portentious dread – lovers of the song will find little new here, yet its beautiful production emphasises the 70s influence heard throughout the album. The Beatles’ spirit is invoked in ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, not one of the Fab Four’s greatest songs in terms of popularity, and the song most transformed by Field Music’s attentions – their re-imagining of non-linear, stop-start arrangements, and showcases their perfect evocation of 1968 studio technology. Wherever you are recording this stuff, guys – don’t move anywhere! The brief end coda, which belongs to another song, assures they’re not.

The penultimate piece is perhaps the most literal cover, but daresay still unknown to a considerable portion of the target audience. Despite John Cale’s recent fondness for audiences, his material is still relatively unheard outside those who have made the effort to seek him out firsthand; Field Music’s cover of ‘Fear is a Man’s Best Friend’ sounds more like a gentle tribute than a genuine reinvention: Cale is too shrewd for that, his recordings always sounding as if they’ve been made a couple of decades too soon.

Conversely and perversely, ‘Rent’ is a welcome re-imagining of the Pet Shop Boys’ classic. Shorn of the electronics, the yearning lyrical content shines all the more brightly, bolstered by a proper acoustic drum kit, electric guitars of various guises, and who knows who on backing vocals. A welcome update of a classic pop song bookends a fine collection.

If this was the only release by Field Music this year, it would be a notable event. As a throwaway companion piece to their own original material, it’s an unexpected treat. To those who dismiss them as prog rock revivalists, this will neither confirm nor deny those rumours. Yes, the band are prone to semitone chord changes, unexpected pauses, and four or five movements within their songs. A perceived anomaly: pop music has been doing more or less the same for several decades, as this collection amply proves. For a virgin listener, this is an accessible door through which to enter the Field Music world. For a long-term fan, this is a thoroughly decent stopgap, if one were needed; an insight into the Brewis’ rehearsal room guilty pleasures, whilst the protagonists leave South Tyneside for an attempt at world domination.

PS It’s surely a great sex soundtrack.

7.5/10

‘Field Music Play…’, a considered album of covers from Field Music, is out today on Memphis Industries.

 

Mercury Prize 2012: Writers’ Early Predictions

 
By on Tuesday, 18th September 2012 at 11:00 am
 

So it’s been about a week since the nominees for the 2012 Mercury Prize were announced. We here at TGTF have been mulling over the options, and here are our early thoughts on who will win this year’s gong.

Mary Chang, Editor (current location: Washington, DC, USA)
With the exception of Leeds band Roller Trio, all of the acts nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize are no stranger are known acts. A large proportion of the 12 nominees are those with high profile debut albums. The releases by alt-J, Ben Howard, Django Django, Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas, Michael Kiwanuka, the Roller Trio blokes and Sam Lee being considered this year all fall into that category.

Wait a minute, count those up again. That’s eight. You read that right. EIGHT. That’s means without even counting bookies’ odds, there’s a two out of three chance a debut album will be picked. Was this shortlist borne out of the fact that legend PJ Harvey‘s album ‘Let England Shake’ won the honour last year (and it was her second time winning), so the powers that be decided the list should be more heavily weighted to favour newcomers? The nominees should reflect the best of the best, and not because a band has suddenly leaped onto the scene on the strength of on media buzz. Let us not forget Speech Debelle’s win in 2009. Where is that follow-up album, eh, Debelle?

I’m not saying that there is no danger of having sentimental favourites nominated because there can be the thinking that although a band has been around forever and they never have won anything, let’s give them a go this time around, shall we? I am saying that given the importance and weight of a Mercury Prize nomination, let alone actually winning the prize, the winner shouldn’t be the band that has the largest promotional effort. Which, let’s face it, tends to happen with the Next Big Thing band, because thanks to the cynicism of labels, bands are pushed hardest when they are signed and put out their first releases. When the list was released last Wednesday, I groaned inwardly because there is one band on this list whose lead singer’s voice I cannot stand, but I expect to hear him and his band constantly on BBC Radio in the next 2 months without fail, all thanks to their Mercury nomination…

So my vote is for Field Music‘s ‘Plumb’. This is pop, but not in the way you used to view pop. It’s interesting and intricate, with piano and guitar lines that sound like no-one else’s. And more importantly, what they come up with is entirely unexpected. Brothers David and Peter Brewis trade off on lead vocal and drumming duties, adding two additional variables into the mix. They’ve made it okay not just to like but embrace the art rock genre, with its atypical time signatures, flying directly in the face of that urban pop piffle that’s become all too commonplace on radio. And this album has the word “smart” written all over it. Seriously, when was the last time you heard transitional bits in an album that were purposely made into tracks, and they worked? Should they win, I’m expecting naysayers to complain that they’ve been around too long and ‘Plumb’ isn’t as fresh as some of the debut albums that were nominated. Just because something’s new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, or the best. ‘Plumb’ is an intelligently written, intelligently made album that deserves this praise.

John Fernandez (current location: Lincoln, UK)
The question on most people’s lips: “where’s the crazy curveball they normally throw at you?” I, for once, found myself knowing all the acts nominated, something almost unheard of over the last few years! When looking at the list the name that jumps out is an obvious one: alt-J have been gathering plaudits far and wide and feel almost as certain to win as the xx did in 2010. You really would be a fool to bet against them, but I never said I was anything but a fool.

My money is going slap bang on Plan B, an artist who over a short career has reinvented himself so successfully. ‘The Ballad of Strickland Banks’ introduced a character and backed him up with some of the most soulful tunes of the past decade, thoroughly thrusting Ben Drew into the mainstream. Now his new album ‘Ill Manors’ is out and he is firmly back to his roots, rapping about financial hardship on council estates and the plight of “Broken Britain”. Plan B says he wants to have the same impact by winning this that Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy in Da Corner’ did, and why not? He’s the outspoken voice of his generation.

alt-J are cool and have some killer tunes, but Plan B is representing the underrepresented and should win the Mercury Prize.

Luke Morton (current location: London, UK)
alt-J must be the favourites to win the Mercury Prize this year, and for good reason. Since their inception in 2011 with the ‘?’ EP, the Cambridge four-piece have been spreading their melancholy, indie pop across Britain to the delight of the mainstream music press including BBC Music and NME.

Debut LP ‘An Awesome Wave’ is a supreme example of the evolution of indie in the UK in recent years, as it flirts with ideas of folk, electronica, art rock and straight-up pop music. It’s been accused of being too pretentious but it’s in fact a perfectly-crafted, 44-minute odyssey into experimental playfulness that has produced the enchanting singles ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Tessellate’. There’s a reason the internet exploded at the release of this album, and hopefully it will receive the recognition it deserves.

Martin Sharman (current location: Gateshead, UK)
This year, the Mercury judges have the opportunity to comment on not just music, but society itself. For they have nominated Ill Manors, Plan B‘s uncompromising soundtrack to his eponymous feature film, a collection of grim stories set on a London council estate. This is the real deal: Ben Drew has the requisite first-hand knowledge to make a story of council estate debauchery and violence spring to life, and is reinforced here by collaborators of impeccable credentials. Never before has there been such a vivid piece of work documenting council estate life, and the moral- and morale-crushing struggle for survival which such an environment engenders.

Plan B pulls no punches; there are stories about drugs, violence, prostitution, drugs, gangs, and more drugs, leavened with heavy doses of swearing. No doubt there will be some who dismiss this as nothing more than a tabloid-style “demonisation” of the working class, exaggerating and exploiting their woes for cynical financial gain. Which is nonsense. Everything here has the ring of truth about it: Drew grew up on the eponymous estate; John Cooper Clarke is on board, and he, of anyone, knows his subject; take a wander through the syringes and discarded aluminium spoons of any run-down corner of London’s concrete chaos and then reasses those opinions. This is a more important piece of work than any dry government report on “Broken Britain” – its task is to seep into the consciousness of those lucky enough to have grown up on a manor not quite so ill, and make them aware of what’s going on, often just a mile or two down the road. In comparison, every other nominee appears twee and enfeebled – pretty music, but nothing with the relevance and gravitas of this collection. Richard Hawley fares particularly badly when listened side-by-side, smothering any relevance of intent with several decades’ worth of electric guitar. Ill Manors is the sound of today – however ugly the truth might be. Let’s hope the judges can find the bravery to reward fact over artifice.

The winner of the 2012 Mercury Prize will be announced on Thursday, the 1st of November. For an overview of all the nominees, read this post.

 
 
 

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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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