Field Music – Measure

field_music-measure-albumcover

Rating: ★★★ · ·

The Brewis brothers have just returned from their brief hiatus, which featured several decent albums by their respective projects (School of Language and The Week That Was).  But, as they’ve reunited with Field Music, they present the masses with Measure; it’s a burdensome album that takes twenty songs and goes beyond the 70 minute mark.

It becomes apparent that the group hasn’t strayed too far from their staccato style prog when you first press play.  The piano even has a stabbing sound to it, albeit one surrounded by various layers of texturizing.  This will ultimately be the story of this album, it’s the inclusion of textures and layering that fleshes out Measure. Some listeners will see them as sort of a British version of Pinback.  Both bands operate on these mathematical constructs, as if each instrument has been placed into the stero by way of equation rather than heart (that’s not to say I don’t like that about them).

Unlike some of their brethren in The Futureheads or Maximo Park (bands who’ve joined the group in the studio and on the stage), the one thing that doesn’t push this record forward is that it does seem so calculated.  You can cruise through the first five songs until you land on “Effortlessly,” which is the first song that seems to really draw you into the record itself.  Then you sort of wander back and forth through meandering instrumentation until you hit “You and I,” the tenth track.  Perhaps the slow-core tempo is really the breeding ground for inspiration here because the lacking of pace in this number is what makes the jump in the volume during the chorus seem to emphatic.

As a fan of the band, Measure is still really hard to follow along all the way until the end.  Like Sufjan when he released Illinoise, this whole thing will sort of wear you down; it’s just too long for a modern listening experience (that’s a whole other issue).  Formulaic rock is great, and there are a lot of incredible little moments throughout the whole affair, but you have to recall be on your game as a listener to take this whole thing in one sitting.  Try as I might, and I’m a fan mind you, I couldn’t get through it all at once.  Songs bled into one another, and the larger idea of the record sort of faded away.

But, you can take a different approach, one that will reward you.  Listen, at first, in brief sittings.  Take three or four songs at once, then pause and reflect.  “Measure” your thoughts, if you will.  Might I suggest starting at “First Comes the Wish,” which just happens to be one of the stronger songs.  Start here, then go forward two song, then maybe skip around. Although I like the record a lot from this point until the end.  In pursuing a different listening experience for yourself, you will define this album on your own terms.  It will reveal itself to you in an entirely different manner than perhaps it did me.  This way, you won’t be worn down or burdened by the large undertaking.

Taken in one sitting, this album bleeds together, which makes the formulaic sound a little weaker than Field Music intended.  But, if you can move in and out of the record, finding your own passage through Measure, then you will be rewarded, as the group has cleverly constructed a piece of art that deserves your deconstruction.

New Tunes from Throw Me the Statue

throwThrow Me the Statue is one of those bands that you’ll find difficult to define immediately. They’re part Sufjan, part elctronica and stirred in a pot by the Northwest. It’s an interesting recipe for some great tunes, which is reason enough to post a song off the band’s latest Purpleface EP, which is out now via Secretly Canadian.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/04-ship.mp3]

Download: Throw Me the Statue – Ship [MP3]

Cryptacize – Dig That Treasure

Rating: ★★½ · ·

On the sixth track of Crytpacize‘s debut album they sing “every note is an unfinished song,” and clearly they take this to heart, but far too much for my liking.  This song comes off just as the lyrics, leaving the feeling that they have collected a plethora of unfinished songs.

From the get go, I really was interested in this album.  Asthmatic Kitty puts out a lot of really good records, and recently, Sufjan Stevens put out his support for the band.  A lot of promise.  Then you add the perfectly beautiful vocals of singer Nedell Torrisi, and, well, the promise of this album continued.

That was about as far as the promise got for me, although I have to admit, that something curious inside me lingers to keep listening to this album–that I can’t explain.  Maybe I have to be in the middle of a different season, rather than this Texas heat.

Where did the promise go?  Probably the same place as the percussion on the majority of these songs!  It evaporated! I mean even the Five Civilized Tribes used predominantly percussive instruments. This album lacks them, severely, which makes it hard for the album to progress in any direction, instead it leaves it to meander through twelve uneven tracks.

Sadder still is that these guys have the ability to write some really special moments, such as in the song “Heaven is Human,” where I begged the guitar to break loose throughout the song, but they held it back. They showed you a guitar, a few solid lines, and then they took them away just as quickly.  This band does have a lot of potential, it is just not there yet.

Then again, Sufjan Stevens likes them, so maybe I’ve got it all wrong.  Perhaps I just don’t understand this genre of music, where musicianship takes precedent over songcraft–you can have the best musicians in the world, creative even, but if you can’t write a song, it doesn’t mean a thing.

I think you should go and see for yourself.  The band plays at the Mohawk this Saturday with Devon Williams.  You can find yourself some tickets at this convenient Interweb sales-site.

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