Neither violent hailstorms, legions of snakes, nor a rampaging swarm of bees are evoked in the timbre or poetry of Good Field’s brisk self-titled LP, but a portion of singer-songwriter and guitarist Paul Price’s lyricism incubated under those conditions while roughing it in the Mexican countryside.
“I was out there by myself, so it was kind of intimidating because I was taken out of the city and you realize how vulnerable you are,” Price explained. “I find that being out, being isolated and being out in open land helps me focus. I love it when my phone loses reception and I can’t answer emails on the Internet. When I can really just dive into thoughts—around lots of land—and being away from people for a while.”
The unassuming 29-year-old from Dallas is best known as a former member of the Austin-based indie band Brazos, and secondarily as a hired hand on several tours with Voxtrot—a standout ATX indie ensemble whose critical reception outweighed their commercial success. Today, Voxtrot is defunct and Brazos has disbanded. But the dissolution of Price’s involvement with each prompted him to found and spearhead Good Field after a period of post-mortem “soul-searching.”
Originally intended as a vehicle for solo work, Price opted to field a cohesive group by recruiting and trying out numerous Austin musicians, ultimately landing on drummer Esteban Cruz and bassist Michael McLeod—both longtime friends—and keyboardist Kyle Robertson.
“It’s more fun this way. I like the idea of collaborating. We all help each other and we all perform different aspects within the band,” said Price. “They also bring different ideas and do their own recordings. It’s better this way.”
Price and Cruz’s decade-long friendship germinated at Texas State, where both were enrolled in the university’s classical guitar program. For their part, McLeod and Robertson share common ground as television and film composers, with McLeod having scored Richard Linklater’s 2008 documentary, Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach, and Robertson’s high-profile credits including work for The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and American Idol—to name a few.
Justly or not, Good Field’s style is generally termed “shoegaze-pop.” The former descriptor seems at least a partial misnomer, but the latter quality is spread richly across their album’s breezy 34 minutes and 50 seconds. Others have also written of perceived resemblances to popular indie-rock bands The Walkmen and Deerhunter.
“It’s really hard to come up with what your band sounds like,” Price reasoned. “I guess (the ‘shoegaze’ label) is because of our reverbed-out sounds, some of the tremolo. Maybe we have a thick sound sometimes. Mainly in just the tones: maybe there are a few tones in there that are Shoegaze. We don’t really look down, though … We’re more ‘pop’ than shoegaze.”
As opposed to the multi-layered, droning “wall of sound” denoted by the genre and popularized by bands like My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Husker Du, the 11 tracks that comprise the Good Field LP—their first full-length album—instead convey an amplified, intelligible sense of space and fluency: analogous to the band’s namesake as “an homage to cricket and desolate landscapes” because the melodies and any given note have nowhere to hide.
At times, Price’s restrained, yet transformative vocals eerily evince Tom Petty and—to a lesser extent—replicate shades of Bob Dylan circa Desire or Blood on the Tracks. Nonetheless, the young Texan’s preternatural tonality tenderly melds with the alternately rich and spare atmosphere of dreamlike ambiance lent by the deft instrumentation of his cohorts and his own reigned-in strumming. The introductory tracks “Find a Way” and “Our Roofless Home” are particularly mesmerizing and striking in this mold.
The album’s second single, “Tell Me Ida,” is an affecting speculative discourse on the process of antiquated courtship inspired by old footage Price found of his grandparents in their youth.
Overall, though, the album’s narrative arc traverses the vast personal tract of Price’s relationships: past and present; real, borrowed or imagined.
“I think the album is about relationships in general. Not necessarily mine. Well, maybe some were mine, or happened to me. But I’d say it’s about friends and situations that people find themselves in.”
Good Field is re-releasing its 2012 debut on remastered vinyl. The band will host an album release party at Holy Mountain on Feb. 22 and will then embark on a brief national tour before returning to Austin to perform at South by Southwest. Listen to the song “Tell Me Ida” below.