I first heard of Field Report when I was in ad school. There was this girl, Kelli, and she was hip to every band that nobody else had heard of. And three years ago nobody knew about Field Report—except Kelli. Because Kelli told me about every unknown, obscure band my ears grew deaf and I decided not to care about this Milwaukee, WI based group. And, truthfully, I still don’t care about them that much—but they’re growing on me.
I recently listened to their sophomore album, Marigolden. Because Kelli told me to? No. Because another friend, Simon, has been raving about Field Report on Facebook. And if someone raves about something on Facebook it has to be real! In fact, Facebook is the place that informs ALL my decisions about politics, music, religion and relationships. And if you make decisions apart from Facebook, they’re not even real decisions. Right? Right.
So here I am, invested, fully given into my Field Report curiosity. As I listened to the album I imagined people in dark rooms across the country, listening to Marigolden intently, acting like it’s the most important album since Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. My friend Nate is probably one of the people in the (imaginary) dark room. He’s crying as he listens for sure. Speaking of Bon Iver, the brains of Field Report, Chris Porterfield, used to play with Justin Vernon and there are some similarities in their music. At first listen, the third track from Marigolden, “Pale Rider” and its ensuing track, “Cups and Cups”, sound like something J-Vern would falsetto the hell out of on one of his albums. Note: Field Report isn’t a Bon Iver knock-off (but there are undeniable sonic connections).
Concerning the new album from Field Report—if you’re tired of reading, here’s a quick synopsis: Marigolden is a good album. Not if you’re in the mood to dance but, rather, if you feel like taking a drive by yourself in the country, studying, eating a nice dinner or taking a long shower. It’s pretty. It’s nice. It’s aurally pleasing.
What I tend to gravitate toward are good lyrics. I’m a sucker for a good storyteller—especially one who tells/sings stories about geographic locations, people and the weather—see: Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up In Blue”. The songs of Marigolden are well crafted and the tunes that really do it for me are “Cups and Cups”, “Marigolden” and “Summons”. Also, can I get a sweet enthusiastic roar for steel guitar? Track nine, “Summons”, hits the pedal steel right on the head and it is beautiful. And if “Summons” does it for you then the last track, “Enchantment” will really punch your feelings in the face.
What I don’t like is that the album goes from zero to thirty in 2.6 seconds and maintains that speed for the duration. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. If that’s what you’re looking for, then it’s great: it’s steady, easy to digest and pleasant. But if you’re looking for a varying musical experience look elsewhere.
Brass tacks: if you enjoy Blitzen Trapper, The War on Drugs, Bon Iver, Neutral Milk Hotel and finding (somewhat) hidden bands then Field Report is a worth checking out and Marigolden is worth listening to. Just know this, friend: soon you won’t be cool because, if they’re not there already, Field Report is on the precipice of Indie darling status.