Review | Field Report - Field Report

Field Report – Taking Alcatraz

[A]fter months of hype following a stellar showing at SXSW, as well as a gig playing Daytrotter’s Fourth of July barn show, and free tracks available for download via their website, the debut album from Milwaukee’s Field Report is finally out. An anagram of frontman Chris Porterfield’s last name, Field Report has crafted a fantastic album, moody and poignant.

A stellar songwriter, Porterfield has been holding onto these songs for 5+ years, rewriting and reworking them ever since his last band, DeYarmond Edison broke up in 2006. I’m betting that you probably haven’t read a single blog post, article or review of Field Report without mention of Porterfield’s previous

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bandmate Justin Vernon. But I think this is where the association with Bon Iver should stop. Field Report’s music is more than capable, and deserving, of standing on its own.

The songwriting in itself is absolutely fantastic. Porterfield is a very descriptive writer and it absolutely makes the songs. Like the mention of a “crew neck state school sweatshirt” these descriptions stick out lyrically, just as much as they blend in audibly. Stories of big struggles in small towns, every song on the album is a beautifully told story. Fergus Falls is told from the persepctive of a pregnant woman feeling trapped in her life with a man she doesn’t want to be with. “While he was hoping against a daughter. And no one saw my banners, my bruises, my flares, my flags,” Porterfield sings before closing the song back at the beginning, “This is the one in which I miraculously pulled out, of a free-fall dive over Fergus Falls, Minnesota.”

Many of the tracks feature quiet guitar plucking and a steel guitar, which plants the band firmly on the americana side of indie folk. And Porterfield’s voice adds grit and dirt to the tunes, which is perfectly suited to the stories of heartbreak and struggle across the midwest. This album could not have come out at a better time as it’s perfectly suited to the cold fall nights and dwindling daylight hours.

If you haven’t already grabbed their self-titled debut, you can grab it here. They’re playing a bunch of shows this fall, opening for Aimee Mann, and will be back in town in Boston on November 6th playing at the Great Scott.