Various Artists

Tracks and Fields

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Tracks and Fields is a double-disc follow-up to Kill Rock Stars' double-disc Fields and Streams set from 2002. Much the same as that fine release, this is a roundup of indie rock and pop bands that either record for KRS or make music that float KRS' boat. The disc plays like a state of the indie union address with a nice mix of established acts and up-and-comers and a strong sense of the overall vision and aesthetic that has helped keep KRS going all these years. Disc one's highlights are a crinkly track from the Legend! ("I'm Not Like That"), a deeply soulful revamping of What's Going On-era Marvin Gaye by His Name Is Alive ("Peace in Detroit"), the starkly beautiful "Eric's Song" from Cynthia Dall, the storming "Pink 14" by Billy Childish's Buff Medways, the cute new wave of the Charades ("The Only One"), and the nasty garage blues of Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee ("Wake Me When I'm Over"). Disc two holds many pleasures as well, like Biography of Ferns' epic Pastels/Television Personalities-influenced "John the Barber," Measles Mumps Rubella's glittery disco-funk "Fantastic Success II," the lo-fi demo of Devendra O Banhart's "Poughkeepsi," Nedelle's soulful indie folk ("Begin to Breathe"), a stunning acoustic take of "Golden Cloud" from space rock stalwarts Dead Meadow, and a sweet country tune from the heavily hyped (deservedly so) Decemberists ("Everything I Try to Do, Nothing Seems to Turn Out Right"). Some songs -- but only a handful -- aren't quite up to the level of the rest, and are not enough to drag the collection down. Anyone who wants to get a feel for beneath-the-radar indie rock in 2004 should seek this out.

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