splendid > reviews > 2/11/2004
Fields of Gaffney
Fields of Gaffney
Nature Walk

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Stars for Eyes"

Buy me now
I may be the only person in the world, outside band members and immediate family, who owns two copies of Nature Walk. I bought the first one at SXSW last year -- actually, a couple of us did -- after almost randomly attending the Fields of Gaffney show. There in the courtyard beneath the stars (and beneath a tent), the band, which included Sebadoh founder Eric Gaffney, Richard Marshall from Alice Donut and Jessica Cowley (Yowza! -- Ed.) from the Run for Cover Lovers, seemed nearly perfectly balanced between indie-pop and trippy psyche. The record, as I discovered later that night and reaffirmed this week, is much weirder and more wonderful, a luminous starburst of fuzzy, distorted guitars, tremulous harmonies and frantic punk rock energy.

Songs on this second Fields of Gaffney disc range from the ethereally blissful ("Cold Weather") to loose-limbed rockers ("Broke Up" is everything you miss about Sebadoh). Lo-fi raves like "Wanna Be with You" have a slacker sneer that's somewhere between punk snarl and indie cool. There's plenty of distortion and guitar effects -- check the swirling, sucking sound on "Gates of Steel" or the fuzzy churn in "Cold Weather"'s bridge -- but it all seems subsidiary to strong melodies. There's something very traditional underneath all the smoke and haze, a steady Appalachian rhythm that pins down in reality what might otherwise float off on the breeze. Get past the goofy, half-tuned whistling that introduces "Long Journey", for instance, and its lock-step cadence supports a Palace-like traditional melody. It's cracked like an old mirror, antique in its design but nearly cubist in the way it refracts and reflects the light.

The cover choices are all interesting and off-beat -- including hard-to-find Troggs ("Push It Up to Me"), an ultra-melodic take on Devo ("Gates of Steel") and sweet, somehow innocent homage to Daniel Johnston ("I Did Acid with Caroline"). Gaffney's voice, his tripped-out folky arrangements and his childlike lyrics all recall Tyrannosaurus Rex, so it is no surprise when he covers Marc Bolan in "Cosmic Dancer". His version is twangily euphoric -- not glam at all, but a barefoot shuffle through the tall grass.

To my ears, the best song on Nature Walk is "Accelerated", all jangly, down-sloping guitars and interlocking vocal lines. The lyrics don't make much sense -- something about an accelerated Dutch girl -- but the wailing, careering guitars after the bridge, collapsing into a final frenzy, tell you everything you need to know about lust and frustration.

These 12 songs were all recorded on 4-tracks with minimal budget and almost no promotion. It's lo-fi the way it used to be -- not a fashion statement, but a way to make eccentric, personally meaningful music whether anyone wants to hear it or not. If you like trippy psychedelic pop, if you wonder what Sebadoh could have sounded like if they'd never made it big, you need to check out Nature Walk. Ask nicely and I might even lend you a copy. I've got two, you know.



Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber


The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz



The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau


Gary Noland

Tommy and The Terrors


Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770



Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano

Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!

Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!

That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo

Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.