SXSW 2013: Good Field


Austin is like a liberal arts student. Our music scene is good at a little bit of everything. You’ve got your singer-songwriters, your psych-rockers, your folk-rockers. There are a handful of rappers and a few more DJs. And there’s a lot of indie of every stripe. A lot of these musicians are really, really good and creative and original. It’s rare, though, that I hear something that sounds incredibly of-the-moment on a national scale. Our folk-rockers don’t sound like Mumford; they have their own original spin on it. Our blues guys don’t sound like Jack White, and our rappers don’t sound like Drake or Kendrick. We don’t have anyone that sounds like indie darlings Grimes or Beach House. And that may be a good thing. Our folk-rockers (Eastern Sea, Dana Falconberry) are making incredible music, our blues guys (Churchwood, Gary Clark Jr.) are great musicians doing exciting things, our rappers (League of Extraordinary G’z, Zeale, Phranchyze, Parking) are carving out their own spaces with great songs. Even our version of indie darlings (Deep Time, Pure X, Ringo Deathstarr) are garnering national and international attention on their own terms.

All of this to say that in Good Field, Austin has someone who sounds amazingly contemporary. When you think of hip, indie guitar rock bands, certain artists may come to mind: Real Estate, The Walkmen, The War on Drugs. No synthesizers, no dance beats, just a group of guys doing new and interesting things with the traditional rock band set-up. And they are all touchstones for Good Field’s sound.

Good Field is the brainchild of Paul Price, formerly of Brazos (concurrently with Brazos?), who has put together a collection of songs that sound like what history will remember an indie guitar rock band in the early 2010’s to have sounded like. Listening to their album on headphones yesterday, I felt young and alive and entirely present. I could see it soundtracking road trips, or barbecues with friends, or really any of those moments where you feel like you’re living life to the fullest (except, possibly, strenuous physical activity – this is some laid-back shit).

On a song like “These Dreams,” Good Field channel the slowly rolling cinema of The War on Drugs, funneling classic rock through a chill haze. It makes everything sound bigger than it should be. The emotional “Something’s Different” recalls The Walkmen in its lyrical mix of ennui and angst, and over the course of the album (like, for example, during moments of “When You Walk” or “Find a Way”) Price’s voice can be a dead ringer for Hamilton Leithauser’s. The exciting “Panama” features some of the same swirling, sweet guitar lines that you might hear on a Real Estate album. Good Field have taken in all of these influences and interpret them in a way that still sounds original.

And yet, the single best song on the album is the one that sounds the least like anyone else. “Tell Me Ida” emerges from an ethereal mist to deliver the story of Bill and Ida, lovers courting each other in a simpler time. The bouncy acoustic guitar is matched with fuzzed out electric guitar squalls and a peppy keyboard line, all topped by the catchiest melody I’ve heard so far this year. As soon as it’s done, I just can’t help instantly replaying it. The sentimental romance in the lyrics melts my heart each time.

This is not an album to miss, and while I love that most Austinites do their own thing, I’m also happy to have a guitar rock band that the hipster blogs could easily latch onto. I could see big things happening for Good Field, and I hope that they do. Which means you’ll want to get on that bandwagon sooner, rather than later – tonight at Holy Mountain is the release party alongside Dana Falconberry and Belaire. I mean, it doesn’t get better than that. And buy the album on iTunes.

– Carter