Guest Review: Brian McMahon on fielding’s Our Side is an Ocean – Indie folk rock

This is a track-by-track take on fielding, the duo of Eric Fielding Balmer (Plankeye) and Beth Balmer, and their latest offering *Our Side is an Ocean*.

Badlands: Starting off the album with a nice folk tune is a nice choice for the crowd they will appeal to. This is easy to sing along to, very consistent rhythm throughout the song. The sound this song displays turns my brain into reflection mode right away. If you have ever messed up and wanted to run away from the damage you have done you will likely connect to what is written in the song. If you like a well-written folk rock song this is the song for you.

Broken Hymns: This song screams body swayin indie folk rock. The song writing they put together is very catchy yet very simple. I appreciate that. In indie rock it is easy to over do it, Fielding has a strong grasp of balance in constructing their art. They effortlessly put together vocal goodness to satisfy those who enjoy quality harmony, not to little, not to much. As a lifelong musician I tend to connect more with artists who’s live performance is as good or better than what is recorded. I don’t hear anything in this song that would not be able to be preformed well in a live setting. On that note: I also think that some things should be left for a live setting, like the last 30 seconds of this track for instance. At just over 5 minutes long the entire song makes total sense until that epic ending. However that does not make or break the song for me. I could listen to this. In fact I have…. a lot. I believe that if what you write as an artist intrigues listeners to want more of what you are producing in that instance, then your job is close to complete. “Broken Hymns” has done that for me. I am excited to spin the rest of the “Fielding” collection.

Costume: If John Paul White, and Ben Gibbard produced a song together, I have to believe that this is what would be produced. Quite possibly my favorite song on the record. This is another example of tasteful harmony in the voices. This song tells the story of a guy who has been lied to and won’t let the liar get away with trying to be someone she’s not. By the end of the song it is apparent that he is having a hard time letting go of his feelings. You can almost watch the lyrics play out in your head, quite interesting.

Miles: This is a typical love story gone bad. The guy wants the girl but the girl is confused and not wanting him back. Simple powerful song writing, and the dynamics are brought in by their vocals. The nice thing about the simplicity that these guys bring is that its easy to learn the songs and sing along. The not so good part is that after a little while they all start to sound the same. (That may be because I have listened to these songs probably 10 times each over the last week but who’s counting.) It’s a great song from start to finish.

Reconstruct: The life of this song is contagious. This is getting back to more of the indie folk rock feel that Fielding does best (See Broken Hymns). This song tells the story that he will do whatever it takes to make his loved one feel alive again. He apologizes for what he has done and just wants to make things right. I like that they make more of a musical jump with the dynamics in this one. More drums, more guitars, thick keys, they did a great job with this one. You get a lot of music for your money with this EP. This song comes in at 5:18 with the average song length of around 4:30 on the record. The nice thing is that the songs don’t feel excessively long. Its worth your time and money absolutely.

Romans: Here is that Plankeye influence that was expected. Once again a good well rounded indie folk rock song. They took a step back in the area of vocals with this one but it really doesn’t need it. This is the most aggressive song on the album musically, and it is still very likable. Lyrically, he is afraid of something, I’m just not quite sure what. It’s evident that this song is written more for the music. It is a very good Indie rock song.

So for our readers who tend to enjoy easy going indie folk rock music, this is a great addition to your collection. It’s thoroughly enjoyable album and I hope there will be an LP to follow this record.

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