REVIEW // REDWOOD FIELDS – ACCIDENTALS

Well, well, well… look who has bigger britches! Because, like, they got too big for their original britches. But not in that way where britches got big because of egos. I guess that’s the metaphor, though? I mean, like, they grew and then their old britches didn’t fit. Because they grew…

Whatever. Shut up.

REDWOOD FIELDS GET TO WEAR PANTS THAT FIT THEM BETTER THAN THEIR PREVIOUS PANTS BECAUSE THEY RECORDED A PRETTY GREAT ALBUM IS WHAT I AM SAYING.

Accidentals is a tight, carefully crafted release from the esteemed Fredericton four piece. Recorded at The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport, Nova Scotia by producer Diego Medina (Shotgun Jimmie, Jon McKiel, Paper Beats Scissors), the album is ripe with rich tones and smart uses of space. The band has definitely come a long way from their two track EP released last year. The dynamics are more fully realized, the instrumentation more deliberate and effective, and the arrangements more evocative of theme and feel.

So, it’s a smarter record. And a great first full-length release. Brendan MaGee’s synth and keys playing is more supplementary than I remember (I’ve been away, you guys), but always appropriate. Cedric Noel’s vocals are more honed and intentional. He’s still got a big voice but he’s sharpened it to a point. Heather Olgilvie’s harmonies are lovely as always, and I can really hear her legacy from some of her other projects here. Namely, there’s a little Slate Pacific happening. That’s a good thing. Her bass playing is punchy and effective. She’s easily one of the most underrated bassists in maritime music. And lastly – not leastly – Bruce Duval’s drumming both gives and takes room in equal measure. It’s largely Just Right.

The album feels like a coherent whole. At just 30 minutes, it’s enough to get a feel for how these musicians have grown into each other. Eight tracks spread out a good sonic variety, something the band is certainly known for. Opening on barnburner “Foundations”, Cedric wants you to hum the chorus melody all day. You will; even when the album is over. Followup track “Sappy” feels more like something Cedric might have recorded for his own bedroom project – with jangly guitars and a synth wash, fat, echoey “ooohhhs” and bass in the driver’s seat. There’s a build, but not enough to overstay it’s welcome. Redwood Fields have some restraint, and the tension/release in the track pacing works beautifully.

Then the title track, Accidentals, slaps your day dreaming face and reminds you that you’re listening to a polished indie pop band. Sometimes you get that feeling when you listen to an album for the first time that you know what’ll make your best-of lists come December. Here’s one.

The rest of the album plays out in a similar way. Polite and comfortable tones to make you feel warm. I don’t want that to sound like an insult, either. The sounds fit. One one hand, I can tell the band are not quite done growing. There’s germs of bigger things here. One of my favourite tracks on the album, “Distant & Obtuse” has Cedric wailing that he’s “walking on air without you”. He’s sick of your shit. But the guitars are more a wall of reverb to duck behind than a dramatic gesture. I sort of want them to get a little mad.

But like, have you met these folks? They don’t really get mad. Especially Ol’ Brendo. I can’t fault them for not getting more worked up. And that restraint is actually what makes this release so balanced and complete.

I’m way excited for the next step. If there was a lot of potential in their two-track EP release, there is buckets to spare here. It’s another sweet release in a manic summer of Fredericton releases (and, like, all of them have been good? What gives?).

The album is up on bandcamp for you to PURCHASE TODAY. They’re got a bunch of tour dates, too! For you! To see them! LIVE EVEN. They won’t be playing Fredericton until the 17th of August, but that gives you time to learn all the words.

- Mike Nason



Comments are closed.