Field Music — ‘Flat White Moon’

THE GOOD: British indie prog rockers Field Music are back with their eighth.

THE BAD: “Moon” plays it safe in spots. That could be polarizing for some longtime fans.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Last year’s “Making a New World” was a World War I concept album done in conjunction with a British museum. Taking the piece out of context, the end results were scattershot at best.

Now, “Moon” simply is another standalone record in the catalog. Even after the guys smoothed over some rougher edges, this still is a solid collection of songs. Tracks such as “Orion from the Street” and “Meant to Be” are prime examples of the quirky pop/rock we’ve come to expect from this band.

Recalling vintage XTC and Split Enz while dishing out off-beat sounds similar to contemporaries such as Wild Beasts and Gruff Rhys, Field Music once again delivers the melodic, unpredictable and slightly jarring goods. Intimate strings and occasional horns further enhance the tunes and add vibrant color. Tasty.

BUY IT?: Yes.


Snow Poet — ‘Wait for Me’

THE GOOD: London-based musical collective Snow Poet returns with an intimate second.

THE BAD: Maybe sequencing. The album’s second half gets TOO mellow, slowing to a crawl in spots.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Vocalist/lyricist Lauren Kinsella and multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson spearheaded the project. Because they both have backgrounds in jazz, Snow Poet often gets unfairly pigeonholed within that genre. But “Wait for Me” offers so much more.

Some traditional elements and structures certainly are present, but the record also boasts strains of modern folk, ambient electronic, indie rock and even the occasional dance groove. The music owes just as much to Bjork as it does to Miles Davis. Opening track “Roots” establishes the vibe. Songs walk that fine line between intricate progressions and intelligent pop. The rest of the set further explores this pattern, changing tempos and textures to avoid stagnancy.

For the most part, the journey is fascinating. A little more variation across side two would be welcome, but there’s no real harm done.

BUY IT: Sure. Explore.


Iceage — ‘Seek Shelter’

THE GOOD: Danish post-punk band Iceage gives us its fifth.


THE NITTY GRITTY: Co-produced by longtime collaborator Nis Bysted and the legendary Sonic Boom (Spaceman 3), “Seek Shelter” is half classic rock bombast and half thought-provoking noise. The band continues to defy classification by smashing expectations. Its desire to experiment remains fully intact.

“Shelter Song” kicks off the proceedings in grand style, an extended rambling jam further augmented by a gospel choir. “High and Hurt” is rousing and infectious, stealing its glorious melody from the old hymn “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Both “Vendetta” and “Dear Saint Cecilia” owe their grooves to classic Britpop. The guitar rock is both searing and danceable.

The group formed when the guys were in their late teens and already musically wise beyond their years. Looking back over the catalog as the members all approach 30, we see it’s been a wild ride that shows no signs of slowing down. “Shelter” simply is a logical and very accomplished progression.

BUY IT?: Definitely.