Thursday, March 17, 2016

Al Kooper, Prince, & the Brothers Brewis

Al Kooper told me about Field Music the week their debut was released in 2005. He raved about it and I thought it was good fun, but I recall none of the music, as I don't think I have ever gone back to it. I do remember enjoying the quirky XTC attack of their pop, but ultimately wishing something would stick.

Ten years and five records later, many friends and critics continue to rave over David and Peter Brewis, brothers known as Field Music and I continue to think, "This is really nice, but why can't I remember a single song?"

Then, Prince (of "Purple Rain" fame) tweeted a rave over the opening track of Field Music's new record, "Commontime," and I thought, "Here we go again." But this time, it stuck. (More on that later.)

It's hard to describe Field Music. Labelling sucks anyway. But I think this may have been part of my problem with the band. For ten years, I couldn't quite figure out what I was listening to. Take the opening cut from their album "Plumb." It's called "Start The Day Right."

Is it Yes? Is it ELO? It's definitely fun, but by the time I was done listening to "Plumb," I was exhausted and unsatisfied. So many ideas, so many wonderful melodies, all going by way too quickly to savor. Like being given 15 fabulous meals to eat in less than an hour. It's a lot of swallowing, but not a lot of chewing and tasting.

But it was this track, the one with Prince's stamp of approval, that finally knocked me out. It was a "Song Of The Day" last week. Maybe you missed it.

And the one right after it called, "Disappointed."

There seemed to be a pattern, more focus. Two songs in a row that felt like the same band, which at this point sounded like mid 80's Prince (probably why he liked the tune).

"Commontime" plays out the very same way it begins. There are a few curveballs, like the absolutely gorgeous tune below, but it is the first "Field Music" record that feels like a collection of songs and not simply a collection of ideas.

There is a lot to digest on "Commontime," and I highly recommend something we all used to do back in the glory days. Sit down and listen to it on your stereo. Don't drive, or listen to some of it on your commute, or while you're vacuuming. This is a record, put together by two incredibly talented brothers, who had a vision. I think it needs to be treated thay way for full effect. And I also think that I should have been doing that with their previous albums, but did not. Once I have had enough of "Commontime," I am starting over and paying attention to Field Music's debut. Maybe I will hear what Al Kooper heard in 2005. I'm feeling confident that I will, but I need to pay attention. You should, too.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Immediately I like the drum sound and the vocals, meaning it's off to a good start.
"Start The Day Right" is a terrific intro and was over before it became a song.
I hear a lot more Split Enz and Finn brothers than XTC.
They've caught my attention.
Al Kooper was rigght to hear something. Definitely a there, there.

cmealha said...

As I told you, I think "Commontime" is the best thing I've heard in quite a long time. I've gone backwards to "Plumb" and have gotten through half of "Field Music (Measure)". There are a lot of indications on the earlier stuff that point to "Commontime" but they didn;t affect me as much. "Commontime" seems to be a lot more focused and the production & arrangements seems to be much more developed and satisfying. I keep going back to "The Morning is Waiting" which is simply one of the most beautfiul songs I've heard in a while. It reminds me of "Glowing" by D.A. a few years back. More in the feel of the song rather than any similarities in melody. Don;t know if having heard the earlier stuff I would have pursued "Commontime" but I'm glad you did and that you shared it. Number 1 so far for 2016.

ken49 said...

Curious, what is Glowing by D.A.? I have enjoyed Field Music in the past but agree that after listening it was where did the song go. I will have to dive a little deeper into their new one.

ken49 said...

oops, I found out.

Shriner said...

I may try this one. The other albums left me bored and cold (even though they keep getting recommended by people whose taste I usually trust...)