Release Date: Feb 5, 2016
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
One of the many neat tricks in Field Music’s impressive cache is the ability to make the listener feel at ease, confident that they know what’s going to happen and to sit back and enjoy it happening. Another of their skills is in doing the unexpected, not content to allow a song to simply flow the way it feels it should. If you can marry these two seemingly disparate talents, as Field Music have expertly on Commontime, then you have the recipe for an excellent record.
The missing link between XTC and Peter Gabriel, Field Music – Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis – exist in a world far removed from the current pop landscape. Their sixth album, the first since the pair both became fathers, is yet another shot through with odd time signatures and jerky choruses. What’s new, though, are the traces of Talking Heads-style funk and a wistfulness prompted by parenthood’s demands.
It's utterly baffling how Field Music remain such a minor concern in the overall 'arc' of British pop music. Here we have two gifted brothers who for over ten years have consistently released records of an almost overwhelming quality. It's not just indie blog dullards that seem to agree either, as evidenced by Prince's recent nod of approval toward the lead single from Commontime - 'The Noisy Days Are Over'.
The Brewis brothers just can't help themselves. Despite all the solo and collaborative projects they work on separately, but mostly together, they always come back to Field Music. In the years since their last album, 2012's Plumb, David and Peter have stayed very busy as usual and along they way picked up a few new elements to add to Field Music's already wide range of ingredients.
There are artists who manage to translate good press into commercial success. There are artists who succeed despite the best efforts of music critics, as frequently evidenced by the charts and the schedules of the world’s stadium venues. And then there are artists who have to settle for having the phrase “critically acclaimed” attached to them so often that it almost becomes part of their name: the Critically Acclaimed Big Star, whose first album sold fewer than 10,000 copies and whose most celebrated gig was performed before an audience entirely comprised of rock writers; the Critically Acclaimed Nick Drake, the adverts for whose third album, Pink Moon, contained both hyperventilating praise from Rolling Stone – “the beauty of his voice is its own justification” – and the admission from his record company that “his last two albums haven’t sold a shit”; the Critically Acclaimed Go-Betweens, whose drummer, Lindy Morrison, the very model of plain-spoken Antipodean candour, once summed up their career with the words “no one cared except for rock critics and a few wanky students”.
The brothers Brewis have navigated the choppy waters of sibling creative collaboration by sheltering at ports of temporary hiatus since 2007. When Field Music are not actively writing, recording, or touring a new album, they become, for all intents and purposes, fixed in a holding pattern. In these lulls, their separate projects—David’s School of Language and Peter’s the Week That Was, among other endeavors—often come to the fore.
The Brewis brothers have been in the music game for over 10 years now, producing record after record of mildly eccentric characterful pop. The journey’s not been an easy one: their insistence on producing their own material, refusing to accept advances and embarking on early tours with little experience of the process brought them dangerously close to financial ruin. But the sheer tenacity they apply to Field Music has served them well and provided the record buying public with their particular blend of charming and idiosyncratic music.
Comprised of brothers Peter and David Brewis and abetted by a revolving cast of supporting players, Field Music have released five studio albums over the past decade, each of them distinguished by a kind of erudite pop sensibility that is largely kept at arm's length. Their last record wasn't a proper album at all, but rather a collection of covers imbued with their inimitable wiry energy. Listening to them reconfigure tracks by Roxy Music and the Pet Shop Boys—and somehow making an overly covered song like Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" sound weirdly alien—only proved how much Field Music operate on their own strange frequency.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Commontime, Field Music's first studio release for four years apart from a soundtrack comes at a welcome time for fans and is a traditionally lengthy affair. The Sunderland natives sixth outing is a fourteen track collection and although some bands often begin to waver by track five, the Brewis brothers have recreated this feeling of necessity when it comes to the material included.
Field Music, the musical collaboration of brothers Peter and David Brewis, are known for getting their hands into numerous other projects. We've heard a handful of co-produced projects and solo albums from them since 2012's Plumb, so it is fitting that their fifth record, Commontime, sounds like a stable homecoming after a chaotic few years. Commontime is a much more focused effort, more consistent and straightforward than the scattered brilliance of Plumb.
UK art rockers Field Music are a dynamic bunch. They’ve shape-shifted their way through the 2000s, working on a bevy of side projects between records and have let their different fares bleed together. It’s this consistent growth as a group that has made them one of the most engaging indie acts in England. Their newest record, Commontime, is yet another exciting new move for the band, chock-full of legitimate jams that will have both dedicated fans and casual listeners grooving along.
Field Music’s new LP, ‘Commontime’, bears all the hallmarks of the Brewis brothers’ wayward talents: asymmetrical rhythms, wry humour, interweaving vocal harmonies, classic pop/rock sensibilities and genre-merging surprises. Each track feels awkwardly personal, like an internal dialogue or a snippet of an accidentally overheard conversation. In short, it’s prime Field Music output.
Sunderland’s own brotherly writing duo, Peter and David Brewis, have been at it again. Their first release since 2012’s Mercury Prize nominated Plumb, Commontime sees the band re-expand to include original keyboardist Andrew Moore, with extra vocals, bass touches and hints of string thrown in for good measure. Warm, meticulous and packed with the off-kilter, jaunty pop touches Field Music made their name with, there’s plenty to encourage long-serving fans of the band – but there's very little to stop your mind from wandering.
If last month was teeming with a strong assortment of bouncy electro pop, then this one was chock-full of indie rock releases. Carl wasn't too impressed with most of these month's rock-oriented offerings, including Wolfmother's brazen return, while Juan was somewhat disappointed with those that ….
Field Music’s 2012 album ‘Plumb’ was at the more unusual end of that year’s Mercury nods. In response to their nomination, Sunderland brothers Peter and David Brewis thought it might be “unfair” if their wriggly art-rock won: “The music industry would be right royally pissed off if somebody who has sold half as many copies as some of the others ended up winning,” said Peter, three weeks before Alt-J’s now platinum debut, ‘An Awesome Wave’, was crowned the winner. The previous year, they wrote a blog saying, “We can function independently from the music industry, partly due to geographical isolation and partly due to the principles we’ve determinedly stuck to”.
Somewhere in a parallel universe, the preternaturally talented Brewis brothers are lounging on their country estate and – when not chatting with U2 about the latest tax planning innovations – are lighting cigars with tenners and flicking idly through the latest high art auction catalogues ….