• Field Music
Field Music
Field Music Play...
(Field Music)

I'm quite fond of this northern England duo, and I'm sorry that Plumb, their fourth full-length, got slept on in the US. Since I've met one other fan, I know I'm not alone, though KEXP virtually ignored it—okay, Kevin Cole played "(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing" once—even though it's perfectly accessible stuff. Apparently, Al Kooper is a believer, too, as he recently told Songfacts, "My favorite band nowadays is called Field Music."

It's all a little off-kilter, perhaps—song suites, odd tempo changes, and the like—but there's a strong pop sensibility winding its way through every track. My short-hand description: Skylarking-era XTC meets Third-era Soft Machine.

In any case, Britain took notice, and Plumb received a nomination for the 2012 Mercury Prize. As David and Peter Brewis note on their website, "We're a few albums in now and we were fairly convinced our chances of ever making the Mercury shortlist were minimal to nil so this is a really nice surprise."

In the wake of that honor, they're released a collection of covers—two new, six old—including their great take on Syd Barrett's "Terrapin," which I cited here.

The complete track listing:

1. Terrapin (Syd Barrett)
2. Born Again Cretin (Robert Wyatt)
3. Heart (Pet Shop Boys)
4. If There Is Something (Roxy Music)
5. Don’t Pass Me By (The Beatles)
6. Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
7. Fear Is a Man's Best Friend (John Cale)
8. Rent (Pet Shop Boys)

Truth be told, I don't like most of the other songs as much as the Barrett cover—I've never been a big Pet Shop Boys fan—but I'd recommend this glimpse into Field Music's taste to anyone who fell for their last album as hard as I did.

And I find it ironic that Peter* sounds more like Bryan Ferry on the Beatles' "Don't Pass Me By" than on Roxy Music's "If There Is Something," which they pull off better than I would've expected. Something about those luscious harmonies brings Queen to mind—not a group I would normally associate with these guys.

* At least I think it's Peter. Both brothers sing and have released solo recordings.

Field Music releases the digital EP on Oct 15 exclusively through (the physical version they released on Oct 1 is now sold out).