Fields & Streams

Fields & Streams

Various Artists

Kill Rock Stars

Fields & Streams is a low-priced, two-CD, 45-track compilation of mostly unreleased tracks by indie label artists, focusing mainly on female-fronted bands. Disc two (“Streams”) offers the most familiar names, including former Helium frontwoman Mary Timony, New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lesbian rockers The Butchies, and Portland’s Quasi (covering Curtis Mayfield). There are also tracks from up and comers The Mooney Suzuki and even alt-country diva Neko Case (covering Canadian songwriter Sook Yin Lee’s “Knock Loud”).

But the bigger names aren’t the only thing that make disc two the keeper here. There’s also pretty acoustic pop from St. Paul’s Jeff Hanson on “Hiding Behind the Moon,” bright, bratty pop from Tender Trap on “That Girl,” and a terrific country-leaning track from Danielle Howle and the Tantrums called “I Don’t Know Where I’m Going.”

Disc one (“Fields”) offers mostly lesser-known artists. San Francisco’s The Quails produce an intriguingly dissonant groove behind their crazed-sounding lead singer. Manda Marble of Manda and the Marbles sounds like Belinda Carlisle fronting a more rocking Go-Go’s on “Sex Object.” Alicia Trout of Memphis’ Lost Sounds creates some effective Siouxsie-like bleating but “Total Destruction” suffers from really crappy sounding production.

Then things get really weird. Dada Swing offer some detuned guitar mayhem on “Pick Up You.” Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Jim O’Rourke turn up as The Supreme Indifference on “Male-in-communication,” another dose of noisy noodling. Tracks by The Convocation Of and I’m Being Good are virtually unlistenable. But San Francisco’s The Aislers Set display a nice sense of melody on “Through The Swells.” Portland’s Braille Stars create some interesting off-kilter harmonies on “Beautiful Fiction.” And Gene DefconÃs nifty synth pop sound stands out from the crowd on “Caesar’s Planet.” Still, there’s a lot more chaff than wheat in these Fields.

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