7 From the Village


    Can aspiring musicians swallow their envy long enough to give Fields an objective listen? The band played its first live gigs in early 2006, sparking an immediate bidding war and eventually landing an exclusive deal with Atlantic Records that allows it to release records through its own label, Black Lab. One listen to the band’s debut EP, 7 From the Village, is evidence enough to justify the hype.



    Musical influences here run the gamut of the indie-rock canon. The members of Fields evoke simultaneously the rural community feel of Animal Collective; the epic, towering choruses of the Secret Machines; the peppy harmonies of Belle & Sebastian; the layered multi-rhythmic propulsion of the Arcade Fire; and the psychedelic melodies of Super Furry Animals. And rather than kill their idols, the band members embrace them, providing a shorthand for lazy music critics — the band gives away mix CDs at its shows that include, in addition to its own tunes, tracks by Silver Apples, Sufjan Stevens, Jaga Jazzist and Smog.


    Opener “Song From the Village” conveys a sense of the uncommon assuredness in this band, which is yet to celebrate its first birthday. The remaining six songs on 7 From the Village (get it?) never reach the lofty heights of the opener, which will invariably be one of my favorites of the year, they are appealing to listen to. The breakup song, “Isabel,” drapes interesting electronica drones and guitar lines over a deceptively simple pop formula. “Heretic” centers on a Broken Social Scene-esque disdain for the 4/4 beat and concludes with an ecstatic soundscape that includes bells, a glockenspiel and a keyboard lines panned around the stereo field.


    Four songs here were included on a single released in the U.K. in July; neither “Song From the Village” nor “Sisters,” two of the strongest tracks on 7 From the Village, were among them. And with Michael Beinhorn signed to produce Fields’ full-length debut, the only question is whether casinos in Britain are accepting bets for the 2007 Mercury Prize nominations yet.



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    “Heretic” MP3:  Heretic mp3

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