Sometimes there are bands that don’t have success, fall apart, and find all of their members go on to varying degrees of, but undoubtedly, success. When you find out, 10 years later, that these guys all played together, you wonder why in the world they never found success. The best current example is DeYarmond Edison, a four piece band from Milwaukee, WI. The band contained, most famously, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and the Cook brothers and Joe Westerlund, who went on to create Megafaun. One other past member of the band is Chris Porterfield, who now plays in a band called of Field Report.
5 years in the making, the self-titled debut album from Chris Porterfield and friends, Field Report is a three piece band that is both eerily similar and remarkably different from Vernon’s Bon Iver. It’s obvious that these two friends have influenced each other in huge ways, but in the time since DeYarmond Edison disbanded, their musical style s have diverged enough to be distinct, but still the same genre and, in fact, maybe the closest comparison to each other. That’s a very good thing. If you’re a fan of Bon Iver, you’ll love Field Report.
The album begins with “Fergus Falls”, a song that tells the story of an adventure in a plane over Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It’s a beautifully written song and one that’s beautifully sung, as are all of the songs sung by Porterfield. It’s also musically reminiscent of Bon Iver’s lighter more melodic stuff. It’s the kind of song I can’t imagine learning to play on the guitar, but also manages to make the guitar seem understated. It slowly builds and crescendos into a perfectly harmonized climax. “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” sounds much more like a mix of The Tallest Man on Earth and The Barr Brothers. With lyrics like “I have read between the lines,/ i have been wrong every time,/ Burned up on the altar, but I am fine./ I am not waiting anymore”, it’s easy to see why I think Field Report is going to be successful for years to come.
“Taking Alcatraz” is the mellow, soft, acoustic type song that sounds like “For Emma, Forever Ago”. Perhaps the strongest song, in terms of songwriting, is “Chico the American”, a song that is both sung and written with a rhythm that is unique and seems a little off at first, but slowly grows into one of the album’s strongest songs. It’s both personal and universal, the kind of song that requires 5 or 6 listens to catch the entirety of the lyrical depth.
The entire album is fantastic, especially for a debut. It’s difficult, I imagine, for Porterfield to always be compared to good friend and former bandmate Justin Vernon with the success he has had. But it’s clear from the debut that that hasn’t slowed Porterfield and friends down one bit. This is a stellar album and is sure to be on the lists of the best albums of 2012.