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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s 5 favorite albums of the year

Field Report | Photo by Brittany Salerno
Field Report | Photo by Brittany Salerno

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN program director Bruce Warren shares his favorite albums of the year.

There’s always this internal debate I have with myself about year-end lists, and it’s always this battle between whether I should go with “best” or “favorite.” “Best” is usually saved for the “critics;” which is not to say I am one or not. I’ll leave it to the Pitchforks, the New York Times and the Robert Christgaus of the world to attach some higher level of artistic and cultural significance and importance to records.

But in so many ways, I am a critic. I just don’t use big words. Music is “best” when it has singular appeal to anyone who wants to say “this is the best album of the year,” or “this album is one of the top five albums of the year.” You see, everyone’s right and everyone’s wrong when it comes to what “the best” is. When it comes to my albums of the year, I typically list the records that are my favorite. Are they the best? Sure they are; to me anyway. And if for some reason some of my favorites hit the critics year end polls as “the best” (in a music critic kind of way) then I guess I get bonus points. So here they are: My favorite five albums that entered into my musical universe in 2014. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. You Do You, Field Report, Damien Rice and more

You Do You
You Do You | Photo by Carina Giamerese

You Do You had a big week, celebrating the release of their new I Got Time EP on Tuesday and premiering their Key Studio Session on Wednesday.  The latter features a track off of the new record, as well as an unreleased number and a few older jams.  Listen to “Island Rat” below and get the full set here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Field Report at Underground Arts, Esperanza Spalding at The Keswick Theatre, and Ron Gallo at Bourbon and Branch

Field Report
Field Report | Photo courtesy of the artist

As part of Communion Philly, a monthly series of shows created by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, critically-acclaimed Wisconsin folk band Field Report will be playing Underground Arts tonight. Fronted by Chris Porterfield (who played in DeYarmon Edison with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver), as well as multiple members of psych-folk group Megafaun, the band will be bringing their poetic lyricism and beautiful signature melodic-yet-ambient acoustic sound to Philadelphia to headline a night of diverse music with a lineup ranging from alternative rock to swing-hop to, of course, folk. Other groups playing include Portland, Oregon’s Quiet Life, and Philadelphia groups Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night, Weekender, and Marian Hill. Doors open at 8:00 p.m., tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Field Report’s Marigolden via Pitchfork Advance

Field Report
Field Report | Photo courtesy of the artist

Midwestern troubadours Field Report are getting set to release their sophomore album Marigolden, out on Partisan Records on 10/7. The beautifully haunting album is a great songwriting progression for frontman Chris Porterfield and his collaborators, and today the album can be previewed a week early over at Pitchfork Advance. Continue reading →

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Field Report flies high on their stunning new song, “Wings”

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist
“Wings” is the first new song by Field Report, the Milwaukee band led by singer-songwriter Chris Porterfield. The band releases its new album, Marigolden, on October 7th on Partisan Records. The band’s sophomore release more than satisfies the longing we’ve had for more music after being so thoroughly blown away by their 2012 self-titled debut. This time around Field Reports adds more of the right rhythms, synths, flourishes of electronica and musical depth into their carefully executed “folk” rock songs. One listen to “Wings” is all you need to hear the direction Porterfield goes in, and the musical maturity is stunning. At the heart of Field Report’s songs are his voice – yearning, aching, compromised, hurt, yet optimistic – and his acoustic guitar. Like Jose Gonzalez’s Junip, who build their touched-by-electronica songs on the sound of a six string or a keyboard, “Wings” does in a similar manner. The song starts with a soft keyboard, builds in emotion with some intricate acoustic guitar playing, the click track and beats seemingly randomly kick in, and once established, the synths blend in and the song builds with suspense and tension. Porterfield is the master at the “simmer as boil.” He understands how to take a song just to the edge of capturing the emotion he wants with the music his band is performing. While Stereogum called the song “the closest Field Report has ever sounded to Radiohead,” the comparisons to a song like “Fragile” by Sting are more appropriate, in that Porterfield brings his unique storytelling craft and musical warmth into the mix, as well as his own sense of ambient “Radioheadness” on this new song.

Below, download “Wings.”

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