Mellow indie rock is sort of a laughable genre because when everything is stripped away, it’s just elevator music. But ex-Wisconinite duo, Foreign Fields (previously Flights), have made mellow music cool to listen to. Ethereal without being categorized as dream pop, Anywhere But Where I Am is an epic, traveling through lush melodies and softened almost whisper-like vocals, much like Bon Iver’s style. An album of loneliness and introspection, the duo attempt to uncover a deeper meaning to life, relationships and nature. More often than not the music speaks louder than the lyrics, with instrumentals that rival symphonies and film scores alike. Flights take their slow and mesmerizing melodies and brings them to life with understated lyrics in songs like, “Taller” and “From the Lake to the Land”. Foreign Fields is the indie elitist’s Air, a band know for their ethereal yet almost electronic vibe. However, the duo takes on a more folk approach to their songs, allowing the theme of nature to play a more imminent part in their album–and everything is calm. When the music swells up, there is still a controlled aspect to where the melodies are going and how they are going to affect the listener. It’s almost scientific without becoming too thought out. They are a folk-electronic band, again, two genres that should never really mix, but the way this album pans out, an hour of your time to listen is incredibly worth it. Beautiful music to listen to while thinking, reading, dreaming or relaxing, for they are calm without being sleepy, they are powerful without being dominating, and the music they create is important to them and to their listener because in the end, that’s what music is supposed to do, and Foreign Fields proves that with their debut album.
After hearing nothing but positive reviews about Beth Jeans Houghton, I went on a mad spree of looking for anything and everything, and I’m so beyond stoked that I stumbled upon Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose. Immediately different from a lot of music that I’ve been listening to and discarding at the moment, it’s a breath of fresh indie music air. Normally in the winter months releases tend to be gloomier, darker, beachier, but in Beth Jeans Houghton’s case, she blends that into a new genre now being called, “nu-folk”. Let me just say that throughout the first couple of tracks on the album, I was convinced it was a reincarnation of a younger Joni Mitchell blended with the quirkiness and beauty of Annie Clark of St. Vincent. If that doesn’t hook you, maybe the extraordinary amount of odd instruments that pop up throughout the album would. No? Then most definitely the flow of genres from folk to surf rock to straight indie rock will tempt you. If all of this doesn’t make you want to listen to this album right away, I will be flabbergasted. It has become another one of those albums that tend to slip under the radar of most “indie” bloggers–in fact the only somewhat review I could find was by Paste Magazine. It’s a shame when great music and wonderful singer/songwriters like Beth Jeans Houghton seemed to get pushed under the rug all because the new Radiohead album got a 9.7 on Pitchfork (okay, just an example, but Radiohead could easily be switched to Arcade Fire or Kanye West). This is the kind of album that should make people want to discover more diverse indie music because the whole album shakes up genres but without that disconnect that would be expected. And in fact, it flows absolutely perfectly, and from violins to the harpsichord this is an album that deserves all the love in the world.
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